One Monticello Life – Bobby Harris, Candidate for County JudgeMay 20th, 2012 by Mandy Moss
Bobby Harris has spent his entire life in Drew County, and this is where he has chosen to raise his large, close-knit, family. He says he learned how to have strong family values by his own experiences growing up.
“My daddy believed in hard work and he taught all of the boys how to work. It was the way he was. He ran a rural water system out here, and my brothers and I did a lot of labor on it. He still believes in work and he’s 69 years old. We were raised in a real close family, we still are. We still do everything like a family’s supposed to do and that’s the way I raised my family, too.”
“We always had animals and livestock, and that was what we all liked to do. I was very close with my grandpa (R.L. Harris) and we went hunting and fishing a lot. He was a very influential person on my life. We liked the same types of things.”
Mr. Harris said his father’s work ethics stayed with him, and he jumped into the work force as soon as he could.
“At 16 years old I went to work for the Drew County Road Department. I worked on the GCE Program; you went to school half a day and worked half a day. Joe Chambers was my teacher, and he and his wife still live here, too. Three or four boys did it in Monticello before me, and after me. We did the program while in school and working part time, and during the summer you worked full time. Then, when you graduated, you already had a job. The day after I graduated I had a full time job with the County.”
“I really liked the job; I learned how to run everything the County had that was there. The only reason I left was because of money, because my oldest daughter was born, and I was only making $3 an hour… I doubled my money by going to work at the asphalt plant. I worked out there for 15 years.”
“After that I bought a log truck and went into business for myself for 10 years, and then I sold the truck and went to work for the pipeline. I’ve been doing that for four years.
Bobby said that the most important thing in his life is his family. He laughed remembering how he started dating his wife, Susan, because his grandmother liked her.
“I’ve been married for 27 years to Susan Harris, and we got together because my grandmother introduced us. My wife was my grandma’s beautician. My grandmother worked at Van Atkins forever…and she’d walk to get her hair done, it was on Main Street. She was just trying to fix me up, and she said that Susan was just a good type of girl. It’s lasted a long time; grandma knew what she was talking about.”
The two married in 1984 after dating for one year. Combined they have a total of five daughters: Stephanie, Amber, Nikki, Laci, and Staci. They also have six grandchildren: Madison (8), Lynnley (5), Parker (2), Jaxan (2), Robert Alan (4 months), McKenna ( 6 weeks), and another grandson due this June, John David.
“It’s busy at my house. Four of my daughters live within two miles of us and another lives in Selma. They are all there all of the time, there’s someone at my house every single day. It’s pretty wild. Madison gets off the school bus at the house every day. We have helped a lot with our daughters with the new babies, and the whole bunch comes every other Sunday afternoon. You have to have values to keep the family close and keep those types of traditions going strong.”
“I never had any boys, I only had girls, but I will tell you if I built a fence they helped, and they could each get on a tractor and run it. I wanted them to know how to do anything, and they can. I had Stephanie out before she went to work this morning trying to help me catch a cow that got loose… those girls can do anything.”
He said that everything they do, they try to do together. And, since they work together, they reap benefits together, as well.
“I have a herd of cattle, I’m a cattle farmer… and that’s my hobby and what I love to do. My family is involved with that and with everything I do. My grandkids have a cow, and whatever that cow produces, when we sell it, the money goes to the grandkids in savings bonds or other assets. “
Mr. Harris says that his love for his family greatly contributed to why he decided to run for the position of County Judge.
“We have a close knit group, when we need each other we’re there.” “There are four generations of us that live in Drew County right now, and we need industry here to keep these kids here. We need to do all we can to make this County great. I want my kids to be here. Most of my nieces and nephews even live here, it’s our whole family.”
With is past experience with the Road Department, Harris said he feels very ready to tackle any issues surrounding current road issues, and thinks it is critical to keep up the progress that has been made through the years.
“I’ve got plenty of road experience and that’s a huge part of the County Judge’s job. When I was in business for myself, it was the toughest business there was, and I survived. I budgeted my money, made my money, and made it well. That will help me create and stick to a County budget. I really think I can give the office a fresh new look. I think I could find cheaper ways to do things, like with the roads. I think we can stretch the money a little farther. As high as operating costs are, you have to stretch it.”
“People worry about money… the whole economy is so bad. They want our County assets to be managed well, really well. They want their tax money to be spent wisely. They pay taxes, just like I do, and just like you do, and it needs to be handled properly. It isn’t as hard to pay taxes when you see where your money is going and what it is doing to further the County. People really just want to see what’s being accomplished with their money.”
Mr. Harris said that running for the County Judge position is something he had thought about for many years, and he finally felt like now was the right time.
“I thought about it for a very long time, for 7 or 8 years probably. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and the opportunity is perfect right now. Judge Lampkin is going to retire, and I’m at the right age, my health is good, my knowledge is where it needs to be to do the job well.” “I see it as a big challenge and I like a challenge. I’m up for it, every day.”
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