Among the current Grady County Board of Commissioners, its most senior member is Cheryl LaFaye Copeland who is completing her second term on the board and she announced this week that she will seek a third term as the District 4 commissioner when qualifying opens next week.
“I have the passion for service. I want to continue working to help develop Grady County into an even better county. I believe I have the leadership and experience to help shape Cairo and Grady County in the 21st century,” Ms. Copeland said.
Looking back on her nearly eight years of service as a county commissioner, one of the issues Commissioner Copeland says she was pleased to work on was resolving the long simmering debate regarding a new aquatic center. “This issue has been batted around for much too long. I was happy that we were able to negotiate a deal with the City of Cairo and the Grady County Board of Education on the aquatic center. With the partnership of the school system, this project will soon be a reality,” Commissioner Copeland said.
She also says she reflects proudly on the opening of Tired Creek Lake during her tenure. Copeland says the high school fishing tournament over the weekend is just one of many such events she hopes the county can host at the lake.
Commissioner Copeland said she worked with her fellow commissioners to put the right personnel in place to set the county’s financial ship in order and she praised the efforts of new finance director Holly Murkerson and auditor Perry Henry for balancing the county’s books and establishing sound accounting practices.
She has supported efforts by county administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, to lease county vehicles to save on expenses as well as to contract for vehicle maintenance through Enterprise Leasing. “These are positive steps that will help us save money while improve our fleet,” she said.
Another initiative she says she has supported was to transition the county’s solid waste collection to consolidated, centralized manned dumpster sites. “Not only has this improved the appearance of our community, but it has also created some jobs for local citizens,” Commissioner Copeland said.
While much has been accomplished, Commissioner Copeland said there is more work to be done.
“Before I leave the board, I would like to see the Tired Creek Lake project developed. Not only will this be good for economic development, it will also add to our tax digest and ad valorem tax revenue,” she said.
Roads continue to be an issue, according to Copeland, and she pledged to work along with her fellow commissioners to push for the passage of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. “With this additional source of revenue, we will have the funds to do some work on some of our worst county roads. We truly need this tax to be able to do all of the things we need to do,” Commissioner Copeland said.
The District 4 commissioner says she wants another four-year term to continue working for her friends and neighbors to hold the line on taxes. “My constituents trust me to keep my promises. When I promised them in 2019 I would not vote to increase their taxes, I meant it. I will continue to work to be a good steward of the county’s tax money and to spend it wisely,” she said.
Copeland said her role as an elected official made her more effective in helping the community recover from the devastating March 2019 tornado that struck Cairo. “I worked hand-in-hand with E.M.A. Director Richard Phillips. I knocked on doors, helped set up sites, assisted people who needed help, and everything I could as a county commissioner to help get our community back on its feet. This job is an awesome responsibility, but after eight years of service I am experienced, highly trained and effective. I would very much like to continue serving and would humbly ask for your vote and support for District 4 County Commissioner,” Copeland said.
Copeland earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1999 from Albany State University and has worked as a counselor for juveniles working through the Juvenile Justice Center. She has also served as a substitute teacher in local schools.
Copeland is the former chairwoman of the Grady County Democratic Party, secretary of the Grady County Chapter of the NAACP, and former board member of the Jackie Robinson Boys and Girls Club of Cairo/Grady County and United Way for Grady County.
She is an active member of Bethlehem A.M.E. Church, where she has served in a number of leadership capacities.
Copeland has received numerous honors for her community service and volunteer work including the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year in 2014, N.A.A.C.P. Humanitarian Award and the Drum Major for Justice and Peace Award. She has also received a Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Achievement and Public Distinction Award from U.S. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr.
Copeland is married to Ernest Miles and resides at 307 Sixth St. S.W. in Cairo. She is the daughter of Vivian Copeland Hill and the late Isaac Smicky Williams.
“It has been my honor to serve Grady County as the first female African American on the board. I had the opportunity to serve twice as the board’s chair and I would love to continue serving this great county,” Copeland said.