A Portrait of Mayor Harless


Rachel Bell, Messenger Reporter

Believe it or not, politics affect all of our lives. The 2016 Presidential Election was on everyone’s minds, but there was a political shake-up in our town as well. Brandi Harless defeated the incumbent mayor Gayle Kaler, and is now running the show.


“Honestly, I don’t see myself as a politician,” she explains. She tells about the realization she had during her campaign. “What happened to us calling elected leaders ‘public servants’? We don’t do that anymore. That word died, and now we call everybody a politician. So I’ve kind of ingested a mentality that I’m a public servant, and that’s the mindset I’m going to serve out of.”


“Alan Rhodes begged me [to run for mayor],” she says with a laugh, “and my husband. So the two of them worked on me for about six months. It came down to me understanding what the issues were. I asked myself this question: ‘What are the problems that I see as a citizen of Paducah, and what would the solutions be to the problems I see?’” She recognized she had the skill sets to remedy the problems she saw, and reasoned that she should go after the mayoral title.


She says the best part of Paducah is its potential, but she sees that something is holding it back that no one can put their finger on. She has a plan to make Paducah a better place. She ran on three basic policies during her campaign: improving the basic infrastructure of our town, entering into the modern economy, and enriching the health and wellness of Paducah citizens. She’s set aside her first 90 days in office for “listening”, where she schedules meetings with community members and listen to their concerns for she can learn what we as citizens believe to be the biggest concerns facing our town.


Since the job of mayor is only a part-time job, she also has a software company that’s in a startup phase, which specializes in prevention software that works with physicians in preventing chronic illness. She also does consulting with the health department. Outside of work, Mayor Harless enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs, biking on the Greenway Trail, reading, and traveling. She also enjoys running, and is always looking for a new album to run to. Right now, she runs to the Hamilton mixtape. She watches Parks and Recreation, which she often uses to explain life in City Hall to people that aren’t as informed about the ins and outs of the job. People often compare her to Leslie Knope, the main character of that show, who, much like Mayor Harless, is earnest and driven by big ideas.


One fun fact about Mayor Harless is that in the early 2000’s, she worked at Rocket Town, a teenage music venue in Nashville. She met all kinds of musicians working there, including Fall Out Boy.


To young people looking at a potential career in politics, she has this to say: “Perspective is really important. Perspective and diversity of experience. So, anything in life that can give you perspective on something you don’t know anything about, and an experience that can maybe start to shape you. Make sure you’re getting a broad range of experiences.”
In only speaking with Mayor Harless, one can see that she’s a naturally eloquent speaker, driven, and she takes her job very seriously. She has a plan to fix Paducah’s problems and showcase what makes our town great already. There’s no doubt that with her at the helm, the next four years in Paducah will encompass progress, hard work, and dedication to the city that we all love.