Richard LaGrand was reappointed to the Lee County commission seat for District 5 Monday night during a county commission meeting.
LaGrand stepped back into the seat about three months after John Harris died on Jan. 15. He was the incumbent when Harris defeated him in November’s primary election to become the District 5 Lee County commissioner.
According to state code, it falls on the governor to fill any vacancies on a county commission unless local laws authorize a special election.
Lee County Commission Chairman Bill English verified that the county does not have such a local law. Since no special election is available, it was up to Governor Kay Ivey to appoint a commissioner to fill Harris’ term.
Ivey confirmed her decision to appoint LaGrand in a letter to him that was dated April 6.
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Judge Hal Smith presided over Monday’s swearing in ceremony. LaGrand asked Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and Jack Robertson to stand with him during the ceremony.
“I want to let y’all know that I went out and invested in a brand new Bible, and it’s kind of heavy. So I’d like to invite Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and Jack Robertson up to help me hold the Bible,” LaGrand said before the ceremony.
This is now the second time LaGrand has stepped into Harris’ considerable shoes to fill the District 5 commission seat.
Harris, who was notably the first Black person on the Opelika City Council, served in the District 5 Lee County Commission seat from 1994 to 2018. He ran unopposed during his 24 years in the seat.
In 2018, Harris decided not to run. LaGrand decided to run and won the District 5 commissioner position. In 2022, however, Harris chose to step back into politics and run again LaGrand, taking the democratic primaries.
While Harris’ term would not have expired until 8 days after the general election in November 2026, LaGrand will serve the unexpired term through November 2024. Whoever is elected in 2024 will then finish Harris’ unexpired term through November 2026.