Jonesboro City Councilman Joe Compton
JONESBORO Several residents who follow Jonesboro politics closely believe one of their city councilmen deserves a second chance after he was arrested last week and charged with driving under the influence.
Councilman Joe Compton, 55, is facing DUI, striking a fixed object and making an improper lane change charges after he allegedly ran into a neighbor’s mailbox and ran his truck off the road last Wednesday. He allegedly had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.239 grams during the accident, which is three times Georgia’s legal limit of 0.08 grams. He was released from jail last Thursday on a $9,500 bond.
However, residents who attended a Jonesboro Neighborhood Watch cookout Monday night said they and their neighbors are supporting Compton, who has served on the council since 2009.
“People seem to be really upset with the media coverage of this, and the way the TV stations have really blown this up when they don’t pay much attention to anything else happening in the city,” said Jonesboro resident Beverly Lester.
Several residents and city officials said they don’t like the act Compton is accused of doing, but they still stand behind him as a person and as a city leader. That support will likely be needed as the case moves into Clayton County State Court, and as Compton deals with any impact the arrest will have on his personal life.
It is Compton’s second arrest for DUI. He was previously arrested in September 1982 and charged with driving under the influence and speeding-35 miles per hour or more.
“I haven’t heard anything but support for him,” said former city Councilman Billy Powell.
Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day and some of Compton’s colleagues on the city council declined to talk at length what they think may have prompted last week’s incident because they didn’t want to speculate on personal matters in his private life.
But, they are not yet ready to give up on their colleague.
“I would support him the same way I would support any other council member,” said Day.
Last week, police said Compton allegedly knocked his neighbor’s brick-encased mailbox off its foundation, lost control of his truck, swerved across the street and ran off the road before continuing down the street to his Arnold Place home. Jonesboro police allegedly found him lying in his driveway and unable to stand on his own.
Clayton County police were called in to handle the investigation because of Compton’s position on the city council.
His attorney, James Studdard, Sr., told reporters last week that Compton is “remorseful” about the incident, and colleagues who attended the neighborhood watch cookout Monday were not ready to cast any stones.
“I just think everybody deserves a second chance,” said Councilwoman Pat Sebo.
Compton did not attend the cookout because of a family emergency in Gwinnett County, his colleagues said.
Councilman Randy Segner said he believes his colleague has the full support of the six-member Jonesboro City Council. He said Compton, a plumber, is usually one of the first people to help a person out if a tree has fallen on his or her house, or if he or she is having a drainage ditch problem.
“I just hope he doesn’t quit and resign his seat over this because he really is a good guy,” said Segner.
City leaders, as well as some residents, said they believe in Compton in large part because of work he has done to help improve the city’s quality of life.
One of those efforts was when Compton served as the chairperson for this year’s Jonesboro Days committee, said Powell. Under the councilman’s leadership, it grew in one year from a small event at the Jonesboro Fire House Museum and Community Center into a small, one-block street festival.
In 2009, Powell ran for re-election as part of a candidates block which included Compton and former Jonesboro Police Chief Brad Johnson. Compton was the only member of that block who got elected.
“I just feel like Joe’s worked really hard to make this city a better place to live,” said Powell.
But for now, all Compton’s supporters can do is rally around him to show their support. They’ll then have to wait as a community to see how the fallout from his arrest shakes out.
“We’re sad to see something like this happen, but we’re hoping for the best right now,” said Lester. “We don’t think people should judge him by this one instance."