A community that relishes its rich and colorful history will have the opportunity to make some history next April. At that time voters will have the chance to elect as Hannibal's next mayor James Hark, who is the son of current mayor, Roy Hark.

A community that relishes its rich and colorful history will have the opportunity to make some history next April. At that time voters will have the chance to elect as Hannibal’s next mayor James Hark, who is the son of current mayor, Roy Hark.

While City Clerk Angel Vance can’t say there has never been such a family succession in the mayor’s office at Hannibal City Hall, she feels safe in saying it hasn’t happened in at least a generation.

In announcing his candidacy late Wednesday afternoon at the Hannibal Nutrition Center before approximately 80 enthusiastic supporters, Hark paid homage to his father, a former Hannibal fire chief who is wrapping up 15 years as mayor.

“I’m proud of his legacy of service,” he said. “A five-term elected mayor has tough shoes to fill. I wouldn’t even attempt to say I could do anything better because that man has given his life to this community.”

Hark says one lesson he has learned about being mayor from his dad is there is no time to coast.

“My dad has taught me that there is never an end to what you can do. You can’t complete one project and expect everything to be all right,” said Hark. “There is a continuing evolution, working on things day to day, never forgetting that what you’re doing is merely carrying out the wishes of the community and what the people say is important to them.”

James Hark is a pure-blooded Hannibalian, having been born here, plus graduating from Hannibal High School, and later, Hannibal-LaGrange University.

Unlike his father, James Hark pursued a career in law enforcement, serving 22 years at the Hannibal Police Department. During those two-plus decades Hark rose from custodian to assistant chief.

“I do believe with the experience I have, the leadership I’ve demonstrated at the Hannibal Police Department and my ability to get people to work together, to interact with the community, I can pass that along to the entire Council to get more done in the community,” he said.

Hark is no stranger to the workings of city government, having represented the Fifth Ward for the past five years.

Hark acknowledges that running for mayor has been a long-term goal.

“I knew that was a direction I would want to go some day. I didn’t anticipate it would be this soon. However, when I see the current mayor has no intention of running again, I felt I would go ahead and step up,” he said. “I have the energy, enthusiasm and foresight to be able to take the challenges on.”

While most Council candidates don’t reveal their plans until the filing period begins, Hark decided to commit sooner than later as a courtesy to the city’s residents.

“I wanted to announce now because I want to get the word to as many people as I can so that they can essentially report to me and tell me what is important to them. What do they feel the city needs to be doing for them? That’s the reason I’m here, to carry out the desires of the people,” he said.

If elected mayor, Hark identified two areas of focus.

“My main goal is I want to see the revitalization of our riverfront,” he said. “I also want to see us continue to work on economic development in concert with the Northeast Missouri Economic Commission.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com