Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris reflects on 15 years of service as term ends

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — A local mayor is reaching the end of his term.

Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris says he has always had an interest and been involved in politics.

He grew up in Henderson County where he served two terms on the City Board in Lexington. He then moved to Jackson and started building the Republican Party in 1990.

In July of 2007, Harris was appointed Madison County Mayor by the County Commission. He then won his first election on February 5, 2008, in the Republican Primary.

Since then he has been reelected twice, holding office for a total of 15 years.

“My ambition was to continue to move this community forward and hopefully, that what we provided was the infrastructure for business and industry to do well in his community and our business and our industry are thriving very well,” said Mayor Harris.

When reflecting on his accomplishments, Harris says he is most proud of those that will leave a long lasting effect on Madison County.

“We, the city, county, the hospital, and JEA purchased the Lambuth campus and got University of Memphis here, a four-year state institution,” Harris said. “I think that will pay rewards for this community and they’ve done well, they continue to grow.”

He also believes Pope School will make a difference.

“When we finally approved and moved forward on the construction of the new Pope School, I think that is going to be something that will help energize our community, and help grow our school system.”

He says his goal was always to improve the quality of life in Madison County.

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“In 15 years, we only raised property tax one time, and that was as a result of when the city terminated an agreement we had pertained to school funding about five years ago, and we had to raise taxes to make up the shortfall,” said Harris. “But other than that, we’ve lived within our means, and I’m really proud of that.”

Harris says one of the biggest challenges for this community was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was a real challenge for everybody. We were dealing with something we didn’t know anything about. We didn’t have a playbook to go by. We didn’t have anything to refer back to on how it was handled in the past,” Harris said. “I think it’s affected our schools, our community, our businesses.”

Harris says it is important for future leaders to take advantage of Blue Oval City.

“I think it’s important for us to continue to improve the quality of life to prove that activities are available to people, especially with Blue Oval City coming in. You know, the next three or five years is going to transform West Tennessee into something that we really can’t even comprehend now.”

Harris says Blue Oval will bring more industry and business to West Tennessee, presenting more opportunities for the younger generation in Madison County.

“We might have 10, 15,000 more people in Madison County in five years than we have today. And those people have to have a place to live. They have to have infrastructure to support them. So that’s going to be the real challenge not only for Madison County but all of West Tennessee, is to develop that infrastructure that will support the increased population that we certainly anticipate with the development of the megasite.”

While Harris is sad to leave the position of county mayor, he says it is time.

“I firmly believe in term limits and having served 15 years, I feel like that it is just time for me to move on somebody else to move in this spot. Because we always need new and fresh ideas coming from our community and I think and we do have younger people involved in the process, and I think that’s important for our community to have a broad perspective of various offices here, especially county commissioners that that represent what our population is.”

After his term ends, he plans to spend more time with family and focus on his other business.

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When asked what message he would like to leave Madison County, Harris answered emotionally that he was grateful.

“It’s been an honor for me to serve at this office and I’m very humbled and appreciative of all the friendship and the support I’ve received from the citizens of Madison County, and I hope that everybody feels like that I’m leaving the county in a good order for the next mayor and the next county commission,” Harris said. “They can continue to move our community forward, but it’s absolutely been an honor to serve people in this county.”

Mayor Harris has less than two weeks of his term left. He will be succeeded by Republican A.J. Massey.

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Categories: Local News, Madison County, News