(Sept. 11, 2020) At 69 years old, Susan Harrison is Pocomoke City’s first woman to be elected mayor.
Harrison grew up in Pocomoke, graduated from Pocomoke High School and then earned a bachelor’s degree in music and performance from Mars Hill University in North Carolina.
For 34 years, she taught music to elementary school students in Richmond, Virginia before returning to her hometown in 2010.
“I saw a need at that time,” Harrison said. “I just saw a stunted hometown . . . later on, I became very interested in becoming part of the solution. That grew into my desire to become mayor.”
She said she thinks her emphasis on citizen involvement helped her to win the election for mayor.
“I think my campaign was run on honesty, integrity and transparency,” Harrison said. “To do that, you’ve got to have citizen involvement.”
She said she saw the opportunity to make leadership in Pocomoke more positive, such as connecting residents to herself and the city council.
“I feel like sometimes the citizens feel a little shut out and not heard,” Harrison said. “That’s where I felt like I could make a major change.”
Meetings for city council have all been virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Harrison hopes to return those to in-person meetings.
“I’m anxious to get our city hall open and, of course, following all the state guidelines, able to have open city council meetings . . . to get the citizens involved with talking to myself and the council on what their ideas are and what they want to see accomplished,” Harrison said.
After taking office on Aug. 18, Harrison’s other goals during her three-year term are to improve youth mentoring programs and water quality.
“We can do much better getting either the Salvation Army involved, or the little brothers and sisters of America [Big Brothers Big Sisters of America] – youth organizations that can mentor and get our youth on the right track,” Harrison said.
She also wants to make clean water available to all of Pocomoke.
“Some areas in the city are fine and some are terrible, so water improvement has been a very important concern of mine and others as well,” Harrison said. “And the revitalization of our downtown area and the surrounding community.”
Although Evelyn Parsons was the first woman mayor of Pocomoke when she took over the position after her husband died, Harrison is the first woman to be elected mayor.
She said that achievement is important to show women’s empowerment and leadership abilities.
“It’s very important that women be involved in municipal government, county government, state and national,” Harrison said. “It’s very humbling. It’s a large responsibility that I take very seriously, but I’m up for the task and looking forward to it.”
Overall, Harrison thinks she can make a difference in Pocomoke because she loves to work with people and build relationships.
“My hometown gave so much to me growing up,” Harrison said. “I just want to give back to Pocomoke City in a positive way.”