Shelby County Circuit Clerk Mary Harris wins Republican primary, secures new term

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA – Longtime incumbent Shelby County Circuit Clerk Mary Harris will go on to serve another six-year term after winning her latest bid for re-election in the Tuesday, March 5 primary election.

Harris received a total of 15,465 votes, or 62.91 percent of the total vote, while her opponent, Sharon Cooper collected 9,117 votes, amounting to 37.09 percent of votes cast. A total of 24,582 were counted as of writing.

Harris, who will face no opposition November’s election due to the fact that no democratic candidates ran for the office and position of Shelby County Circuit Clerk, will automatically retain her position for another six-year term at the conclusion of her current term.

Prior to first being elected to the position of circuit clerk in 2000, and being subsequently re-elected in 2006, 2012 and 2018, she was employed in the circuit clerk’s office for 26 years and was first appointed to the position of Circuit Clerk by Judge D. Al Crowson on January 19, 1999.

Over the course of those preceding 26 years, Harris served as chief magistrate for 17 years and as deputy circuit clerk for four years.

“I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Shelby County for the past 51 years (26 years as an employee and 25 years as Circuit Clerk),” read a quote from Harris’ bio on the City Clerk’s website. “It is a challenging job, but one I find to be rewarding. I am confident you will find the employees of my office to be friendly and helpful as well as knowledgeable of their duties.”

A native and lifelong resident of Alabaster, Alabama, Harris moved to Columbiana in September 2022 following the death of her husband Phil Harris from mesothelioma and remarrying to Kenneth Wilson, a long-time resident of Columbiana.

Duties of the Circuit Clerk include:

  •  To sign and issue all summons, subpoenas, writs, and other processes.
  •  To maintain all court records.
  •  To monitor compliance with court orders.
  •  To assist in the planning and scheduling of court dockets.
  •  To act as magistrate for issuance of all felony and misdemeanor Warrants.
  •  To receive and distribute all money coming into the courts.
  •  To manage the jury.
  •  To take sworn statements.
  •  To act as one of the election officials.
  •  To act as absentee election manager.
  •  To issue passports.

The circuit clerk’s office is compliant with all audits required by the Examiners of Public Accounts, Division of Risk Management, Property Auditor and the New Orleans Passport Agency.

Harris actively works with the Administrative Office of Courts in piloting technology programs that benefit not only Shelby County but the state as well. She was also instrumental in having a certification program for District Court magistrates put in place as well as implementing background checks for all new hires to the state court system beginning in 2006.

According to her re-election campaign, she has also served as absentee election manager since 1988 and was appointed by former Secretary of State John Merrill to chair an absentee voting task force that sought to streamline the absentee voting voting process in the state of Alabama with the intention of making it more user-friendly.

Harris was also influential in having a SafeHouse advocate put in place in the Shelby County Courthouse to assist victims of domestic violence in a long list of matters.