Lee Harris

County Mayor

Shelby County, TN

Pro-Growth Progressive Idea: Expanding opportunity by giving a preference in city contracts to those that provide workforce training 

In August 2018, Lee Harris was elected as the 6th Mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee. Prior to his election, Mayor Harris served in the Tennessee Senate and the Memphis City Council. Throughout his political career, Mayor Harris has been an unwavering voice for neighborhoods, public safety, environmental protection, and a strong middle class. He has won numerous awards because of his work in politics and government, including selection to the prestigious Aspen-Rodel Fellows program and as a New Deal Leader.

Mayor Lee Harris is a proud product of the public schools in Memphis (Alcy Elem., John P. Freeman Middle, and Overton High). He was a top student at Morehouse College and worked his way through law school at Yale. After law school, Mayor Harris practiced law and later joined the faculty of the University of Memphis Law School. He is believed to be the first African American tenured full professor of law at the University of Memphis.

Mayor Lee Harris is married to Professor Alena Allen and, together, they have three children, Lee Allen, Claudia, and Lou.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared


Previously, the law stated that an ex-offender could petition for their certificate of employability, which is available to ex-offenders who committed non-violent crimes and can help them land a job, only if they were in the process of restoring their rights of citizenship, which is a lengthy process in its own right. This made it difficult for ex-offenders to get a job and reenter the workforce.


My bill unlinks the certificate of employability process from the restoration of citizenship to make it easier for ex-offenders to apply for the certificate and reentering the workforce.


Narcan, or naloxone, is a powerful opioid antagonist used by first responders to treat those experiencing an opioid overdose. Medical professionals tell us that when an individual experiencing a drug overdose wakes up from narcan administration, they think they are okay. However, they are not medically stable. We understand from medical professionals, including Knoxville Tennessee EMS that they have to return to the same person they just treated due to the fact that they have stopped breathing. It is a temporary reversal and further medical intervention is critical.


This bill represents the new best practice when administering narcan. As the opioid epidemic rages on, narcan will only increase in usage. If someone is treated with narcan, this bill requires that they should be taken to the hospital to ensure they are okay and to prevent yet another opioid overdose fatality. At the end of the day, this bill is about acknowledging what we know about the science around drug overdose treatment.


Parole hearings are often delayed, which can significantly impact someone's life. My bill was inspired in part by the story of Mr. Robert Polk, who was on parole when a false charge was lodged against him. Despite the DA dismissing the charges quickly, Mr. Polk was immediately arrested and re-incarcerated for parole violation, where he had to wait more than a year for a parole hearing.         


My bill provides expedited review by the board of parole, when requested by a judge or DA, to address cases when someone has been falsely accused of (and subsequently reincarnated) for a parole violation. Since the bill became law in April, we have become aware of at least one other case that warrants expedited review. Even just one case of an individual languishing in jail or prison when they are innocent necessitates the passage of this new law. We are excited at the prospect of folks being able to get out of jail or prison, allowing them to return to society and allowing our corrections system to become further unburdened. We also believe that this is a policy that could be widely adapted across the country.