ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Ferguson native Calvin Harris, II is back home as the newly appointed Chief of Staff for St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
He may have worked in various government roles all over the U.S., but he will always be a child the community raised. Barbara Cole is his proud godmother. She shows off a picture.
“I believe this was junior prom at CBC,” Harris fondly remembered the party at Christian Brothers College.
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His parents were both community activists, and so was Cole. Harris may have left his mark across the nation, but he was never far from home.
“He loved by candied sweet potatoes, and he tried to fix them in D.C. He tried,” Cole took pity on Harris. “He would call and say, ‘How do you make it?’”
They both laugh. Then they both got deadly serious about diversity, inclusion, food deserts, and access.
“I believe we have an obligation,” Harris said. “To really give folks a lot of faith, and give people a lot of hope, simply by the way we govern.”
So now, this North County native is serving all corners of St. Louis County. Page appointed Harris in January 2022. Harris immediately gathered an ethnically diverse team that launched an online survey. Residents have a voice in how approximately $80 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds are spent.
“As we issue these funds,” Harris explained. “We want to hear from the people themselves on ways they think we should really boost recovery efforts in St. Louis County.”
He admits not everyone has access to the technology needed to complete the survey. Harris says County staff will be at several town hall meetings to help.
“We’re not stopping there. We are already starting the process of reach-out to Black fraternities and sororities, various community, and civic-based organizations, and having as many conversations with as many people as we can.”
Back home with one of the women who set the bar high when Harris was still short, Cole remembers being busy with all her godson’s activities and activism.
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“He’s just always had a vision. I believe, confidently, that he will make it happen.
If you are a St. Louis County Resident, you can find the ARPA Community Needs Survey here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/community-needs-survey/.
You can find the schedule for the in-person town halls and register for virtual access here: https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-government/county-executive/news-press-releases/county-executive-press-releases/press-release-312022/.