By Joel Hall
Three-term Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day, whose service to the city will end with the start of the new year, has been honored by Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell for more than a decade of public service.
A proclamation declaring Dec. 10, as "Joy Brantley Day" in Clayton County was approved at a recent meeting of the Clayton County Commission. (Brantley is Day's maiden name, as well as the first name of her only son, Brantley Day.)
"Day achieved many accomplishments during her 12 years as mayor of the city of Jonesboro," Bell said, while reading the proclamation. He praised Day for helping the city achieve certified local government status, and for formulating a comprehensive plan for the developing the city.
"She was also instrumental in obtaining grants to fund numerous projects, and directly responsible for the Streetscape project," Bell said.
Day will be replaced by former councilman, Luther Maddox, on Jan. 1. "It's been a privilege for me to be the mayor," she said. "We've built parks, improved sidewalks, improved benefits for employees ... I'm proud of what we've accomplished."
An educator by trade, Day graduated from Tift College in Forsyth County with a bachelor's degree in education in 1969. Upon graduation, she took a two-year position with the Department of Defense as an English teacher in Crailsheim, West Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Day started her professional teaching career in Jonesboro in 1971 as a third-grade teacher at Lee Street Elementary School. She later became an assistant principal at Swint Elementary and the principal of Suder Elementary. She is a native of Thomaston, Ga.
Only recently retired, after 34-years with the Clayton County Board of Education, Day said, "Now, I can really feel retired," with her job as mayor coming to an end. "I'll certainly be spending more time in my garden. I'll miss [being mayor], but I know the city will go on. I have a lot of interests, and I'll be going on to my next project."
Day said her father, Harris Brantley (89), greatly influenced her interest in politics. Her father served as a commissioner in Upson County, Ga., for more than 20 years.
"My family has always been involved in a lot of civic and community activities," she said. "Local service is an opportunity to have more impact than any other form of service."
She said the highlights of her time in office include helping bring "the city into the 21st century. There was only one computer in the city when I came into office ... everything was done with paper and pencil." She also prided herself in improving the aesthetic beauty of the city, getting a large building removed from the lawn of the Historic Courthouse and helping repair the building's clock tower, so that it would strike again.
"I hope that will be my legacy," she said. "Beautifying the city is one of the things that I have worked really hard on ... to me, aesthetics are important."
Of the biggest regrets the outgoing mayor expressed was the city's lack of a city manager and downtown development director, as well as the city's inability to commit to plans for a downtown Streetscape project.
"That's a big regret, but tomorrow's another day, and hopefully, the city will continue to move forward," she said.
Day said she believes, in order for Jonesboro to continue to grow, city officials need to improve relationships with surrounding governments and "network with other cities that have been successful. "We need to learn from the mistakes of others, but we're not doing that ... we're ignoring it," she said. "We've got to stop pretending that we are immune to the problems that face cities. We can't continue to bury our head in the sand and pretend it's 1950.
"Some of it is bound to work for Jonesboro, but we have to be open to new ideas. Jonesboro is a great place to live ... we just need to sell it to other people."