Harris jumps in
In the mid-1980s, when a career in finance and a job on Wall Street were sure signs of success, Sally Harris was four years in the game when things were booming.
“Wall Street was the place,” Harris said. “I enjoyed that.”
The Portland, Ore., native had moved to Manhattan after several years of working a variety of high-tech jobs in the Bay Area, including a stint in the video gaming industry. Harris eventually left Wall Street and moved back to San Francisco to work for software maker Macromedia.
But the demanding lifestyle of the high-tech world eventually burned her out, Harris said, so she sought a calmer pace of life.
Harris moved to Santa Barbara, where her mother lived, but didn’t feel a true connection to the community. Ten years ago it was too small, but later it seemed too big, Harris said.
She found herself drawn to the quaint, Sierra foothill town of her father’s birth. Subsequently, she was hired as business manager at The Union.
“It felt perfect,” Harris said of Nevada City. “I am not an impetuous person, but I just jumped right in and bought a house.”
Her allegiance to Nevada City is so strong that Harris hopes on March 2 to be elected to the Nevada City City Council.
Harris, 50, will compete with three others – David McKay, Steve Cottrell and Ruth Poulter – for three seats currently held by Cottrell, McKay and Thomas Balch, who is not seeking re-election.
Harris’ involvement with local politics was somewhat sudden. She was drawn into the political arena one year after moving to Nevada City with the proposal of an 80-unit apartment complex.
Harris joined several of her neighbors concerned with the size and impacts of the project. She was one of seven legal appellants who contributed money to appeal the planning commission’s approval of the project. They were successful as the City Council overturned the approval.
“That was illuminating. It opened my eyes to see one’s ability to make a difference,” Harris said.
From that experience in 2001, Harris said her connection to the community was strengthened and her political interest piqued. She got to know her elected officials and other people in City Hall and was eventually appointed to the city’s finance committee.
The Union business manager said her combined financial and business savvy is what sets her apart from the other candidates.
“They all bring skills, but no one has the finance and business, a significant contribution I could make,” Harris said.
Nevada City has a small budget stretched to meet certain requirements, Harris said. And her background and experience working with people of diverse opinions makes her best able to accomplish those tasks, Harris said.
“No matter who is sitting on the council, I will be able to work with them,” she said.
Harris said she just wants what’s best for the town she remembers from summer family reunions. Her family, in fact, still has claims to a mine where they once found a gold vein, though no one ever got rich, she said.
Even after life on Wall Street – and a few years in France – the divorcee with no children plans to live permanently in Nevada City with her 2-year-old wire-haired fox terrier, Harvard.
“He’s gotten me a few votes here and there,” Harris said of Harvard, whom she takes while knocking on doors around town.
Candidate for: Nevada City City Council
Occupation: The Union business manager
Major Issue: Growth
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