In 2012, when I interviewed Ben Harrison during his successful campaign for Limestone County District 4 Commissioner, I was intrigued by his blend of career experience in corporate America, as well as that of a small businessman.
Ben grew up on his family’s farm in rural West Limestone County. He is married to Beth McGuire Harrison, and together they have 4 children, Erin, Caleb, Olivia and Emily, as well as two grandchildren. Family and traditional values have always been central to the way Ben does things. This is one of the many reasons why he’s so concerned about the direction our country is headed. “It really makes me sad when I think about the Government debt and burdens we are leaving for future generations,” he said. Fighting for our community and children’s futures is one of the main reasons he got involved in politics, and was a deciding factor in his decision to run for political office. “I’m not a politician and sometimes that gets me in trouble, but I am going to stand for what I believe in and not back down just because it’s politically correct,” he stated with conviction.
Ben’s conservative world view and his experience in the business world make him an excellent watchman over county spending. He knows how to spot and eliminate wasteful expenditures without curtailing services. A recent example was the Grigsby Ferry bridge project in West Limestone County. Grigsby Ferry Road had a one lane bridge which was old and needed to be upgraded. Ben was told the only option was a new bridge at a cost of 250K. That seemed exorbitant and unnecessary, so he looked for alternatives that would be safe, and also save money. He found a solution by changing designs and utilizing round culverts instead of a traditional box bridge design. The upgrade cost only 32K, and saved us (the taxpayers) a whopping 218 thousand dollars.
In addition, when Ben took over as District 4 Commissioner, the District was over 200,000.00 dollars in debt, and the entirety of that debt has now been paid off under Ben’s leadership. That is no small accomplishment in an era when measurable fiscal solvency has been relegated to the realm of suggestion rather than necessity.
Ben says his desire is to always be a wise steward of taxpayers’ money, and be attentive to the needs of the community. He feels it’s been an honor to serve as County Commissioner, and enjoys working with the people of District 4. Ben believes, “We live in a blessed area,” and he says he wants to “keep it that way.”
As County Commissioner, Ben’s biggest concerns are centered around road maintenance and improvement, i.e. improving the quality and safety of our roads while reducing costs. His priority is to do the job right, taking care of the base and drainage before he resurfaces current roads. He is investigating a different way to chip seal roads that will result in a smoother and longer lasting surface. During his first term, Ben has been a strong supporter of eliminating unnecessary government projects and diverting that revenue to our road system. With District 4 getting less money per road mile compared to the other districts, these issues are especially important to him. If re-elected, he will continue to be an advocate for better roads, not only in District 4, but throughout Limestone County.
Transparency is also something that is important to citizens of our county as well as those of our nation as a whole. Ben has been talking about government transparency since he took office, and if it were up to him, he would post the county books online for easy review by citizens. By that, Ben means, “every transaction, who wrote what check, and from what account”. Baldwin County already does it and Ben believes it would be a good move for us. He would also like to have Limestone County Commission’s work sessions recorded. “We currently record our regular meetings, but adding the work sessions would give people an added level of background as to what we are voting on during those meetings.”
While many think of County Commissioners as being only “the road guys,” Ben says with a passion, “Our job is also to protect the liberties and freedoms of citizens,” and that means public safety as well as their pocket books. He has been a consistent supporter of private property rights, and opposing tax increases on the hard working people of Limestone County. Now that he is a grandfather, he is even more passionate about building a lasting foundation for his grandkids’ future that starts with roads and goes from there.
If this is what you are looking for in a Limestone County Commissioner, then Ben Harrison would appreciate your voting to return him to his “watch” over District 4 on November 8th.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner