Black Mountain Mayor Harris announces plans for reelection

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News

Larry Harris, mayor of Black Mountain, announced Jan. 24 his intention to run for reelection. 

"I look forward to the challenge of running for election and serving, assuming I have earned our citizens confidence along with their votes," Harris said. "This will be my last election in the town of Black Mountain."

Black Mountain Mayor Larry Harris

Originally voted into office in 2020 by Town Council, Harris filled the vacancy left by his predecessor, Don Collins, upon the former mayor's retirement. 

As a former council member, Harris worked closely with the town manager, coming into his role as mayor with familiarity of the town staff. According to Harris, certain areas can be contentious, such as planning and zoning, but ultimately, the town staff and council work well together.

On the whole, Harris said he's felt the town has supported him in his current term. 

In his experience as town manager, Josh Harrold said the "majority of people" have been receptive to Harris. He said there may be negative attitudes toward the mayor but he hasn't heard much. 

Harrold has worked with Harris for roughly six years. He said the mayor has had a good working relationship with all the town staff and has done a good job of running Town Council and staying on task. 

Council members Pam King and Bill Christy said they were unsure as to how well liked the mayor is by the community, but although there hasn't been any vocal approval, there also hasn't been any complaints.

Although the mayor doesn't have a vote on the council, he does preside over the discussion at the meetings. King said Harris has set an "even-keeled tone" for the council, crediting his background with various community boards as leading to expertise in his position. 

"I think Mayor Harris has done a good job," King said, in reference to the mayor's relationship with the council. "I think he's created an atmosphere that's conducive to discussion."

Council member Archie Pertiller agreed with King, saying the mayor tries to do what's best for the town and fosters discussion with the council. Pertiller said Harris communicates well with each council member individually, giving each person the opportunity to express their views. 

In addition to his position as mayor, Harris serves as the chair of the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization. Harris also serves as the chair on the board of directors of Mission Hospital and continues to serve on the Buncombe County Audit Committee, of which he was the former chair.

Harris also served on the Land of Sky Regional Council and said he plans to join the Givens Community Board in July, pending approval by the Methodist conference. 

"He's involved with numerous other boards and agencies throughout the county," Harrold said. "He's very connected to different organizations, has a lot of knowledge of town governments." 

A shareholder of Parsec Financial, Harris is a director of tax with the financial management firm. With his experience and the opportunities afforded to him, Harris said he feels a responsibility to serve. 

Looking ahead, Harris called attention to the I-40 Blue Ridge Road exchange project, a town venture already in progress. He said his experience with Town Council will help with the completion of the project as it continues. 

The mayor also said the completion of the Black Mountain greenway is another project he'd like to see through, namely the connection from Black Mountain Avenue to Veteran's Park.

"That particular leg is going to be so special," Harris said. "We still have a lot to work through on it."