Mayor of Riceboro dies due to COVID-19

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:02 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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RICEBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - The mayor of Riceboro has passed away due to COVID-19, according to the mayor pro tem.

Mayor Pro Tem Pearlie Axson said she was informed Tuesday morning that Mayor Joseph “Joe” Harris had passed away from COVID 19 at Liberty Regional Hospital in Hinesville.

Mayor Harris was elected in 2019. He was 35-years-old.

Service arrangements have not been finalized by the family.

“We’re deeply saddened by the loss of of our mayor who was a young man who was very ambitious, had a lot on his plate. We were working hard to improve life here in Riceboro,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Pearlie Axson.

Joseph “Joe” Harris was 33 years old when he was sworn in as mayor of Riceboro in 2019. The youngest mayor, but he was a mayor with a vision.

“When I started as state representative 20 years ago, Joe wasn’t old enough to vote. To see him come along and pledge his efforts, his work and his time - it’s inspiring,” said Rep. Al Williams, (D)-Ga.

Mayor Harris worked closely with the Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber, as he wanted to see Riceboro grow and flourish.

“He had a vision of making the city a place where people actually lived, worked and played,” said Sabrina Newby, CEO of Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber.

A leader who saw potential in his community and his students.

A community that, Sabrina Newby says, now has hope due to Harris’ leadership.

“He had a tremendous belief that the city of Riceboro can be more.”

A community leaders hope will continue his legacy.

“It should inspire someone want to step up and fill those shoes.”

The City of Riceboro released the following statement regarding the death of Mayor Joe Harris.

State Representative Al Williams (GA-168) released the following statement:

“Mayor Harris was my friend and a dedicated public servant who loved his community. I watched his development and his love for Riceboro. He was very involved in the community and could be counted on to be present and vocal throughout Liberty County. We have lost a leader with a great future. My prayers are with his family, and his service will be recognized in the next session of the Georgia General Assembly.”

State Representative Carl Gilliard (GA-162) released the following statement:

“Today we have truly lost the greatness of possibilities in the passing of Mayor Joseph Harris. Mayor Harris was a hardworking public servant who served to the best of his ability, and gave so much of his time and heart to this community. Mayor Harris’s mission, vision and goals were designed to make the city a desirable place to live and visit. The entire state and nation mourns in his passing and we offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the Harris family.”

The City is asking everyone to respect his family’s privacy right now before any more details are released.

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