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- Elisabeth G. Hair oral history interview, 1993 June 25
Elisabeth G. Hair oral history interview, 1993 June 25
Elisabeth "Liz" Hair, the first woman to be elected to the Mecklenburg County Commission, recounts her life and involvement in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's government and Democratic Party. Having grown up in a prominent political family involved with the Democratic Party in Missouri, Mrs. Hair explains that getting involved in the League of Women Voters and the local Democratic Party was a priority for her after moving to Charlotte. She describes the internal politics of Charlotte's Democratic Party in the 1950s and the work she did to bring structure to a chaotic organization. This led to a more prominent role for her in local and state politics in the 1960s, when she was the chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections and a member of the Carlyle Commission, which established North Carolina's community college system and brought a number of colleges into the public university system. Mrs. Hair discusses her role in the formation of the Charlotte Women's Political Caucus, explaining how that led to her election to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners as its first female commissioner in 1972, where she would go on to become the board's first female chairman in 1974. She describes the sexism she faced from the male commissioners, from their suggestion that she be the board’s 'hostess' at her first county commissioners' meeting to the internal politicking they engaged in to unseat her as chairman in 1977. Mrs. Hair discusses many of the political issues she fought for while on the Board of Commissioners, including education, affirmative action, food stamps, energy, and the arts. She also discusses her political and civic activities at the time of the interview, including her election to the State Community College Board and as a registered lobbyist for Piedmont Gas, and her involvement with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet). Mrs. Hair concludes the interview with a reflection on her family and her political legacy in Charlotte.