In 2012, when I interviewed Ben Harrison during his successful campaign for the 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. Erin is married to Greg Burton, and they have one son, Fionn. Caleb and Angela are expecting their first daughter this summer. Family and traditional values have always been important to Ben, and that is one reason 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 future 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 a bridge project in West Limestone County. Grigsby Ferry Road had a one lane bridge which was old and unable to accommodate the weight of much more than a passenger car. School buses and construction equipment could not legally cross the bridge, and were forced to detour around to another road. The whole situation was a hardship on local citizens, and was costing them time and money. Ben looked into getting the Grigsby Ferry Bridge upgraded, but was told the only option was a new bridge at a cost of $250K. That seemed exorbitant and unnecessary, so Ben started to look 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
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 3 years ago, 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. He has fought hard for fiscal responsibility, and is proud to have helped get District 4 out of debt during his first term.
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.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner