RALEIGH — The John Locke Foundation will mark its 20th anniversary next week by honoring the man who led state government at the time of the foundation’s founding. Former Gov. Jim Martin will collect the James Knox Polk Award Jan. 13 in Cary.
“The Polk Award honors an individual who has demonstrated true leadership in public office, and there’s no better example of leadership within North Carolina government than Gov. Jim Martin,” said JLF President John Hood. “Like the John Locke Foundation, Gov. Martin challenged accepted ideas about the way state government should work. He stressed reforms that helped steer government back toward the goals of competition, innovation, personal freedom, and personal responsibility.”
Elected in 1984, Martin was the second Republican governor to lead North Carolina in the 20th century and the first to serve two terms in office. He focused on education and roads. “He fulfilled a promise to finish Interstate 40; the highway, which connected Tennessee to Wilmington, was completed in June 1990,” during Martin’s second term, according to his N.C. History Project biography.
“During five years of the Governor’s administration, North Carolina led the nation in economic development,” the biography continues. “His tenure also witnessed the net creation of 500,000 new jobs, an unprecedented increase in the percentage of the state budget committed for education, the introduction of foreign languages into the K-5 public school curriculum, and total immersion language training for elementary teachers.”
Martin’s eight years as governor followed twelve years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also chaired the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. Since leaving office in 1993, he has held leadership roles for the Carolinas Medical Center and McGuireWoods Consulting.
Martin is the second straight Polk Award winner to be honored for statewide service, following 2009 honoree Les Merritt, the former state auditor. Past Polk Award winners include former Charlotte mayor and gubernatorial candidate Richard Vinroot, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, and U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick.
In addition to the Polk Award, the John Locke Foundation will honor William and John Hammer with the John William Pope Sr. Award for the Advancement of Freedom in North Carolina. William is publisher and John editor-in-chief of The Rhinoceros Times, a weekly conservative newspaper founded in 1991 and published in Greensboro.
The Polk and Pope awards will be featured during the John Locke Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration. The general reception starts at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Embassy Suites in Cary. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will offer featured remarks on “The Future of America.”
Tickets cost $75. Head to JohnLocke.org/events for preregistration and details.