Transportation commissioner opts against 2020 run, says ‘no plans’ for future office bid 

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert speaks at The Mill in Starkville in July 2017. (SDN File Photo) 

Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert announced on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2020, after serving nearly a decade on the state commission. 

He told the Starkville Daily News following the announcement that it was not one single factor that led to his decision to step away from the office, but rather a combination of reasons, including what is best for his family.

Tagert is married to the former Mary Love Mortimer of Kilmichael, and the couple has four children: Frances, Harlan, Wilkes and Henry. 

“I had nothing but a positive experience in working this position and being able to be a part of it as long as I have,” Tagert said by phone on Tuesday. 

Tagert said he first ran for the office because of his experience with transportation development issues and how transportation plays a role in economy development. 

“I wanted to be a part of it on state level, because I had already been on private development side of it,” Tagert said, referring to his time as administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. 

Tagert was the first Republican to hold the transportation commissioner position for the North District and only the second to hold the office for the entire state. 

A United States Marine, Tagert also served his country for six years between the United States Marine Corps and Reserves. 

While Tagert said he will remain in public service in one capacity or another, he said he had no immediate plans to seek elected office in the future.

His successor will oversee one million citizens in the northern 33 counties of the state. 

“Mary Love and I would like to let you know that I will not be seeking re-election as the Transportation Commissioner for North Mississippi,” Tagert wrote in an open letter to friends and supporters as part of his announcement on Tuesday. “It has been an absolute honor to serve the good people of North Mississippi in this capacity. We are forever grateful for having been given this opportunity to serve and work for you.”

Tagert first took office by way of the special election in January 2011, but he was re-elected in 2011 and 2015. 

On Tuesday, he said in a statement that there will always be improvements needed in Mississippi’s transportation system, and he leaves office with the feeling that MDOT made the most of its resources, exercising fiscal responsibility in the name of public safety and economic development.

“I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to work with the very dedicated public servants in state government,” Tagert said. “It has been a tremendous privilege to work with my colleagues at the Mississippi Department of Transportation, our legislature and state leadership to develop a safer and more comprehensive transportation system that will ultimately improve the long-term infrastructure framework needed for growth.”

Tagert said he made the announcement well in advance of the March 1 qualifying deadline to provide ample time for potential candidates to consider the race. 

Tagert’s term ends January 2020 and he is joined by Central District Commissioner Dick Hall, of Brandon, who also said he would not seek re-election. 

The Associated Press on Tuesday confirmed that Southern District Commissioner Tom King filed qualifying papers as a candidate Tuesday.