Shelby County Mayor transition team meets for first time

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Mayor-Elect Lee Harris made no promises Tuesday about the current employees in appointed positions in Shelby County government. He walked through the plans for change with his 35-person transition team made up of some of the city's most active and influential experts.

Members included politicians like Shelby County Commissioners Heidi Shaffer and Mark Billingsley, Shelby County School Board members Michelle McKissack and Shante Avant and Shelby County Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Dale Lane.

Harris said he wanted the group to come up with a report that sets goals for the next year as well as the next four years.

"There was a lot of diversity and perspective. That gives me hope around of what this report is going to look like," Harris said of the first meeting. "They’re laser-focused on poverty. It’s a challenge that’s affected so many generations in this community. They wanted to talk about how do we turn the corner and reduce it.”

He also announced a couple priorities; for one, he is not making any promises to the 142 appointed county employees. He said he planned to interview new candidates and even re-organize.

“An office of innovation of some kind seems like a good idea," he said. "My campaign thing was a new era and I'm going to continue that into office. There is a new era taking hold. There’s new opportunity. So folks, if they want to leverage their talents on behalf of Shelby County government, I'll be happy to hear from them."

He also said he wants to improve the relationship between the county mayor and the commission, despite the commission’s recent efforts to limit the mayor’s power over the Economic Development Growth Engine.

"Not to limit anyone’s power but to make sure people who need to act have the power to do it," Commission Chair Heidi Shafer said.

"I don’t think we’ll see major changes before next commission takes office," Harris said of the EDGE moves.

The transition team will have its next meeting in two weeks on August 28. Lee Harris takes office on September 1.

Harris also said his team has already moved into the Shelby County offices.

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