James Harvey Named New County Commission Chairman

James Harvey Named New County Commission Chairman

During the failure to pass a tax increase, the election of a new Shelby County Commission Chairman was overlooked.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - When the Shelby County Commission failed to pass a new tax rate on Monday, July 8, the election of a new Shelby County Commission Chairman was overlooked.

Democrat James Harvey raised eyebrows voting against the tax hike, but was later voted into the top seat.

Harvey characterized himself as being accused of making statements in one direction, then going another.

He was unavailable for direct comment on Tuesday, but in the Monday meeting he made his feelings on governing very plain.

“I haven’t changed into being white,” said Harvey, “nor have I changed into being Republican.”

That’s how Harvey described himself when voting against a proposed tax hike.

“I’m still that little black man and Democrat, James Harvey; that wants to stand for what I think is necessary,” he announced to the crowd.

Steve Mulroy was also a candidate for the chairmanship, but wasn't shocked by the outcome.

“At this point, nothing the Shelby County Commission does surprises me. Let me put it that way.”

Current chairman Mike Ritz was defeated in a repeat bid, but he’s okay with that.

“I felt we should flip-flop between Republicans and Democrats,” said Ritz, “and quite frankly, that’s what we’re doing this time - going back to a Democrat.”

Harvey takes exception to the political pigeon-holing.

“I’m neither one,” said Harvey, “I’m a human being; a man.”

And he is a man with strong convictions.

“Many people, including myself, are sick of the way government leads our community from the top down. I’m one of those leaders - maybe you all are sick of me. I have a strong commitment to do the best job possible. Let’s be fair about how we assert our power.”

Some see asserting that power as a problem due to Harvey’s frequent absences.

“It is true that his job has taken him out of town on a lot of commission meetings," said Mulroy. "It is true that he has said he has a new job which will allow him to attend more regularly.”

That’s a good thing, especially with an election year upcoming.

“The committee meeting will probably be consumed with political rhetoric, “said Ritz, “and I think that will be difficult to manage.”

But, if enthusiasm is a gauge, Harvey seems up to the task.

“I actually wish you could feel my heart and my passion for what I believe we could achieve if we work together.”

Harvey doesn’t assume the chairman’s seat until September 1st; until then Ritz remains at the helm.
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