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County board tribute to Mayor Jean Harris
Four days after succumbing to cancer, Eden Prairie Mayor Jean Harris was honored by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. A December 18 proclamation authored by Commissioner Randy Johnson cited Mayor Harris' many achievements and states that Hennepin County "Mourns the passing of Dr. Jean L. Harris and expresses its deepest sympathy to her family, friends, co-workers, and to all those who over the years appreciated and benefited from her outstanding leadership."

"I know that we all share this loss," commented Johnson, a long time friend of the Mayor. "I was particularly close to Jean Harris when she first came to Minnesota. You know, there are some people you just hit if off with and we talked and talked and she was a person of firsts. She was the first person to do so many things as an African-American, as a woman. She had such a positive attitude. It was always "how can we do this? How can we work on this together?" I think of some of the transportation problems in Eden Prairie, housing. Most recently Birch Island Woods, which was a delicate situation for both the City and the County to transfer that land. She was a leader in the City, she was a leader in the region. I looked upon her as my advisor and counselor."

Johnson then confessed that Jean Harris had been co-chair of his campaign committee for the past decade and, smiling, quipped, "So she also had good political judgment,"

Other Commissioners joined in praising Harris:

County Board Chair Mike Opat: "There was a brightness in her eyes that said she was ready to tackle any problem or any issue or have any conversation that needed to be had.... She stood out for me, from the very moment I met her ... now we're left with many of her accomplishments and that's a source of consolation, but to Eden Prairie, and everyone who knows her, her family and friends, go our sympathy."

Commissioner Mary Tambornino: "Privately she was a tough, respected and wonderful lady who always attempted to figure it out. And I truly respected her for that ... and I am glad she was part of my life."

Commissioner and former St. Louis Park Mayor, Gail Dorfman: "She was a mentor of a number of us mayors. She was graceful in how she did her job but also how she managed her illness. She was still doing her work and volunteering ... and really pressing for a number of progressive issues like affordable housing ..."

Commissioner Mark Stenglein, who with Mayor Harris sees health care disparities as a major challenge: "She will be missed by all of us.

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