The First Female Judge of Miller County Answers The Call of Leadership During a National Crisis
Miller County, AR – On January 1, 2019, Cathy Hardin-Harrison was sworn in as the first female county judge for Miller County, Arkansas. From the start of her campaign to the day she started work, Harrison knew she wanted to be a different kind of county judge. Traditionally, county judges in the area had focused on roads. One former county judge even used the catchphrase, “We fix roads. That’s what we do.” Harrison felt there was more a judge could do and should do for a county, and she set out to prove it. Not only has her administration focused on county roads, but she has also had a focus on grants, revitalization of the county park, improvements in business development, and working on a state level for improvements to the county. Now facing one of the worst national emergencies the country has ever faced, Harrison has had to rise to be a leader for the county, a voice of comfort and a voice of support for the citizens as the county, state, and nation faces an uncertain future.
Fortunately for the county, in January 2020, Harrison was appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness. The group of select emergency leaders from around the state places Miller County in a unique position to be on the inside track for preparedness. The appointment means that Harrison is not only involved when disasters or emergencies like the COVID-19 are being faced on a county level, but she is also active on the front lines working on plans for the entire state.
Cathy Hardin-Harrison is at the mid-term of her first time as a county judge. Already parks are being updated, grants are being provided to the county, the industry is being encouraged and grown, and cooperation between the county and cities is improving. Harrison has also worked to help improve the volunteer fire departments across the county. During all the on-going work, the COVID-19 emergency rose.
Even before there was a joint operation with daily briefings and updates, Harrison was online reaching out to citizens. The county has had a website for a long time, but Harrison has taken it a step further and developed a county judge page where updates are feed directly into social media for citizens. It was on this Facebook Page that Harrison first reached out to reassure citizens.
On March 13, Harrison broke previous records for the page with a post that started “Citizens of Miller County.” Harrison went on the reassure, encourage, and layout the plan clearly to citizens. Her message was direct that the county was working and on top of the crisis. The post reached over 13,000 people, had 2,794 engagements, and was shared over 120 times on social media posts. It was one of the first posts made by leaders in the community, and it was appreciated. Responses from citizens were as simple as “Thank you” to “Thank you for such a great message,” and “God bless you.”
Since the March 13 message, Harrison has continued to provide updates on the page and through the media with other community leaders. She has answered questions, taken calls, and provided information from the state, national, and local level physicians and professionals. Harrison has maintained constant vigilance and, on more than one occasion, directly interacted with citizens. She has provided leadership, confidence, and information in a way that has remained compassionate and understanding. Like all community leaders, she has taken some criticism as well, but that comes with any elected official’s office.
Despite everything going on and all the projects happening in the county, the citizens of Miller County should be thankful that Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison has a broad view of the duties of a county judge. When the crisis arose on a national level, she has proven her ability to stand and lead the county forward even in what some might consider the darkest of hours.
Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison can be followed online on her Facebook Page.