City of Riceboro Mayor Joseph Harris has died from COVID-19. The Courier received confirmation of his death from Riceboro Mayor Pro Tem Pearlie Axsom this morning. It is being reported that Harris, 35 passed away Tuesday morning around 4 a.m. at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville. Axson said that Harris was hospitalized last week.
Mayor Harris was elected in November 2019 and was the youngest Mayor to hold office in the City when sworn in January 2020. He was also a school teacher at Lyman Hall Elementary.
According to the City’s website and a previous Courier report, Harris was a Riceboro native who got his start as the city's grant administrator upon graduation from Florida A&M University in 2009. After getting a front-row seat to local government, he decided to take a more active role in shaping Riceboro's future. This led to Mayor Harris volunteering on various committees and deepening his bond in the area.
Harris took pride in being a part of what he called a "small-knit community that loves everyone, and "everyone knows your name.”
During his first year in office, Mayor Harris' focus was on updating city operations and working with staff to ensure they have the tools needed to serve the public with excellence and pride. The Mayor wanted to market Riceboro as a business-friendly and business-ready city, his website biography stated.
Axson said the city council will meet to decide how to proceed and if a special election will be needed.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.