Jackson Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris Jr. has resigned after eight years with the department, Mayor Chokwe Lumumb’s office announced in a statement on Sept. 8. It’s the second resignation of a leading city official in the Mississippi capital this month after Public Works Director Khalid Woods resigned on Sept. 4.
“Mr. Harris handled the department with integrity and dedication,” Lumumba said. “He has made great strides during his tenure here to consistently and tirelessly reach out to the community and hold events that uplift our youth and others, as well as significantly upgrade our City’s golf parks and the Jackson Zoo, among many other things.”
Last year, Harris spoke to the Mississippi Free Press about fundraising and attendance numbers at the Jackson Zoo after the city received a $60,296 donation from the estate of Robert B. Childers, a Jackson attorney who died in 2017.
The Jackson Zoo has been a particular point of contention for the city over the years. As reported previously, the zoo was placed on a list of 10 endangered historical places in Mississippi in 2021. At the time, Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director Lolly Rash told the Mississippi Free Press that the designation garnered shock and then support from community members.
Some even argued that the zoo should possibly be moved to a location further east, outside of West Jackson.
Still, Harris was hopeful about the zoo’s potential for growth.
“(The Jackson Zoo is) actually doing really well,” Harris told the Mississippi Free Press in 2022.
On Friday, Harris thanked the mayor and offered his gratitude to the Parks and Recreation staff for their hard work and dedication to the city.
“I truly am appreciative to my staff for all of their hard work over the past several years,” Harris continued. “I respect their dedication to this city and the residents that we serve. I am truly indebted to them. … Right now, I look forward to spending more time with my family. I’m also excited about the next chapter of my life.”
In his statement, Lumumba praised Harris for how he handled problems during his tenure.
“He accepted these challenges amid budget constraints, and we are grateful for his service in making the city a better place,” the mayor said. “I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”