There will be a new person next year representing the Northern District, including DeSoto County, on the Mississippi Transportation Commission, after current Commissioner Mike Tagert Tuesday announced he would not be seeking re-election.
“Time has moved quickly but this is the overall best decision for the family for me to make at this time,” Tagert said in making the announcement. “It has been an absolute honor to serve the good people of North Mississippi in this capacity.”
When looking at Tagert’s time on the Transportation Commission, the I-269 interstate project completed last fall will be the most impactful accomplishment to travel in DeSoto County and North Mississippi. The new interstate connects Tennessee’s State Route 385 near Collierville, Tenn. with I-55/I-69 north of Hernando. The project cost approximately $612 million, below its $664 million budgeted amount.
“I-269 is an example of just a tremendous project and one I am particularly proud of,” said Tagert. “That is a monumental accomplishment which I will appreciate being a part of for a long, long time.”
At the same time, Tagert said the commission has been able to be financially responsible while keeping the current road system maintained.
“The policies that we’ve put in place that I’m really proud are those to prioritize maintenance within our state,” he stated. “It was not the most popular decision but it was the most responsible decision that I think has really strengthened our transportation system. The fact that we have been maintaining the system we had built and we’ve really minimized the new-capacity projects that we’ve been able to do has made the existing system that much stronger.”
As Tagert said he would not be running for re-election to another term after his current time on the commission ends in January 2020, he quickly added he would continue working for transportation in North Mississippi, in particular.
“We’ll continue to advocate for proper funding for the DOT and I certainly will do that in my remaining time,” Tagert said. “The Department of Transportation has done a fantastic job over the last decade at addressing the state bridge needs. We work well with our local partners and we’ve got to find a solution to those local bridge needs.” Tagert has served in the post since he won a special election in January 2011. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2011 and 2015. It is likely we will see Tagert in some way doing work elsewhere after his term ends, as he noted, “Once my time in this position concludes, I do hope to remain in public service in some capacity.” Tagert said he is making the announcement well in advance of the March 1 qualifying deadline to provide plenty of time for potential candidates to consider the race.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.