Craighead County Judge Marvin Day’s bid to become the next mayor of Jonesboro has ended. Day released a statement Monday (Aug. 3) that said he wanted to give a heads up to others contemplating a mayoral run this year.
Former State Rep. Harold Copenhaver, D-Jonesboro, told Talk Business & Politics on Monday morning he might jump into the race. By the end of the day, he formally committed to a run. Copenhaver finished second to Mayor Harold Perrin in the 2016 mayoral race.
“After considerable thought, prayer, and discussions with my family I am excited to announce my candidacy for Mayor of Jonesboro,” he said.
Copenhaver, a former State Representative and current Senior Business Development Officer for Centennial Bank, pointed to his extensive experience in both the public and private sector as a key to ensuring Jonesboro continues a path of progress.
“Jonesboro has experienced phenomenal growth over the last two decades and has quickly developed into an economic hub that is competing with cities across the nation for jobs in the technology and industrial fields. That does not happen by accident, it is a result of strong leadership that can build relationships, understands finances and business development,” he said.
“My wife Kathleen and I are blessed to have our children and grandchildren live here in Jonesboro. Unfortunately, far too many of our best and brightest are forced to leave Jonesboro every year to build their careers elsewhere. As a city, we have to make Jonesboro more appealing to future generations if we are going to move in the right direction,” Copenhaver said. “We need improvements in quality of life, increased public safety, and to recruit companies that will offer good paying jobs in our community. As mayor, I will work alongside the citizens of Jonesboro to do that.”
Last week, several residents questioned whether Day could seek the office because he was already the county judge. Amendment 95, passed in 2016, allowed countywide officeholders to serve four-year terms instead of two. Still, it stipulates that the officeholder cannot seek or accept an appointment to another state office.
“After consulting with my family and friends, I have decided that I will not be able to run for the office of Jonesboro mayor. I am making the announcement today to allow time for other citizens who may have an interest in this position to gather the necessary signatures and file by the deadline on Wednesday (Aug. 5),” Day said in a statement.
Day said he has met with attorneys and thinks if the provision in Amendment 95 that prevents county officeholders from seeking other offices went to court, it might be overturned. The county judge said there probably wouldn’t be enough time between now and November to adjudicate the issue in court.
“Their research has indicated that while there are serious flaws in the language of Amendment 95, that if challenged, would most likely be overturned, the out-of-pocket cost to challenge the state court system could be as high as $75,000. The real issue for me was that that it is very likely that this would not be resolved before election day. In good conscience, I could not ask the people of Jonesboro to vote for me without the certainty that I would be on the ballot come election day.”
Perrin announced last month he will not seek a fourth term due to health issues, but he plans to fulfill his current term. After he decided not to run, Perrin encouraged Day to run for office.
Perrin faced a litany of opponents during his 2016 run for a third term, but he won that race without a runoff. Perrin received 49% (11,465) of the 23,407 votes cast during that election. Copenhaver garnered 24% (5,673) of votes cast.
Alderman John Street received 13% (3,135) of votes cast, while police officer Nathan Coleman tallied 8% (1,830) of the vote. Small businesswoman Amanda Dunavant 4% (839), and small businessman Tom Elwood garnered 2% (465) of votes cast.
Municipal elections in cities of a specific size only require a 40% threshold for victory if there are more than two candidates.
Jonesboro native Andy Shatley is the only other announced candidate for the office. On his social media accounts, he said he would seek the mayor’s office. According to his social media accounts, he is a physical therapist and a former Major League Baseball player. Tom Elwood, who also sought the office in 2016, is also contemplating a run.