Jackson City Councilman Harvey Buchanan dies

District 4 City Councilman Harvey Buchanan holds a picture of his father, James Buchanan, and his mother, Junetta Buchanan. James Buchanan was one of the three plaintiffs in the 1977 lawsuit that successfully challenged the white-controlled Jackson city government.
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  • James Buchanan
    American politician, 15th President of the United States (in office from 1857 to 1861)

Jackson City Councilman Harvey Buchanan has died.

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger announced the news on his Facebook page Friday morning, adding that he will order flags to be flown at half staff to honor Buchanan, who was 64.

"Councilman Harvey Buchanan lived a life of service to his city and community," Conger said. "For the last 26 years, he served as the District 4 representative on the City Council.

"In my time on the council, and as mayor, I could always count on Harvey for guidance and wisdom. No one knew the City Charter, like he did."

Conger noted in a later interview that Buchanan was a "true servant."

"He wanted to serve district four and make sure they were informed, and that he made decisions that best served the city of Jackson and the district that he served," he said. "He was a true servant and a true leader.

"He wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to make Jackson better every day in every aspect of everything he did. From his job in workforce development, from serving on the city council—he always tried to make Jackson a better place."

An inspiration for change and engagement

Buchanan’s impact can be felt throughout the community, with one very common theme: he wanted people to get involved, no matter your age or background.

“The Jackson-Madison County community, and especially the East Jackson community, are saddened by the loss of my brother, Harvey Buchanan,” said Earnest Brooks II, District 2 city councilmember and friend of Buchanan’s. “He welcomed me on the council upon my election, and we have been able to work very closely together over the years for the betterment of our respective districts.”

Brooks described Buchanan’s passion for civil rights and getting the community to work together.

“Like me, he comes from a family of freedom fighters who have fought for justice and equality for the Black residents and all residents of the city of Jackson,” he said. “His father and my aunt worked tirelessly for voting rights and voting equality for African Americans here in Jackson-Madison County.

“And our loss is tremendous. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and we just revere him and his stature and status in our community. Personally, Harvey even coached me as a young child at the Boys and Girls Club. I’ve known him most of my life…And it has been truly an honor to work with him, to know him, and he will be missed.”

Buchanan’s dedicated to the youth of the community didn’t stop at Brooks—his passion changed countless lives, which Sabrina Anderson, the current director of Jackson’s Boys and Girls Club, can attest too.

“He was a program director here many years ago. Way before my time,” Anderson laughed. “He was always excited about Boys and Girls Club, and he loved to tell people about all the things that he did—he even started a Facebook page of the alumni of the club.

“He was just ticked to see pictures of everyone. They all wanted to have reunions, and of course nothing could be done without Mr. Harvey. He was an exceptional man. And everyone really loved him.”

Anderson hopes that people will remember Buchanan for his dedication to making the community better, for young and old.

“I think his love for the children, and his help for them (should be remembered),” she said. “I think he was passionate about youth being engaged in positive activities and learning life skills to help better themselves for the future. Education is key.”

Richard Donnell, senior advisor to the president of Lane College, expressed a similar appreciation for Buchanan’s community involvement.

“I’ve initially got to know Harvey when he was involved with the voters council, along with his dad James Buchanan,” Donnell said. “Harvey was a student of politics—he loved politics, and I considered him to be a very good political strategist.”

Donnell said Buchanan’s interests in politics went far beyond just his locale—but never strayed in focus.

“When he and I would talk, we would talk about national politics, state and local politics,” he said. “He was just a figure that just loved the political spectrum. And he was a towering figure in the political life here in Jackson.”

One of his biggest impacts, Donnell feels, was Buchanan’s push to get community members registered to vote.

“Service—political service to the community is his legacy,” Donnell said. “Harvey emphasized that everyone should register and vote. Voting changes things. That was one of the major things he always talked about. How important voting is. And how we would be letting down our ancestors if we failed to use our tool of voting.”

Donnell sighed. “He will be very missed.”

What happens to Buchanan's city council position?

For residents of District 4, this is a pertinent question.

According to the city charter, Section 2 page C-5, if a vacancy occurs in the office of a council member, the seat will be filled by a "qualified resident of that district" by a two-thirds majority vote of those who are present and voting.

Anyone appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council will serve in that position "until the next regularly scheduled municipal election."

The election to fill the vacancy on the city council "shall be held in accordance with the provisions for a regular council seat."

Have a story to tell? Reach Angele Latham by email at alatham@gannett.com, by phone at 731-343-5212, or follow her on Twitter at @angele_latham.

This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: Jackson City Councilman Harvey Buchanan dies at 64

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