Growing up in Trenton, N.J., Joy Cooper was always drawn to public service; for three years in college, she worked in the New Jersey auditing department. But it wasn’t until she moved to sleepy Hallandale Beach, Fla., that she became interested in running for office. Vocal at public hearings, she attracted the attention of the then-mayor, who took her under her wing. She first worked as city commissioner, then as vice-mayor and eventually became the town’s first directly elected mayor. “I really wanted to make Hallandale Beach more than just a retirement community and bring it into the modern century,” she says, noting that she didn’t even have a computer on her desk when she first got to office in 1999.
She established herself as “the technology mayor” -- yes, she has a computer today -- and last fall unveiled an OpenGov website for the city, providing transparent budget and expenditure data to citizens. Cooper is most recently proud of a $58 million bond referendum that will “transform every park in the city.” She’s now turning her attention to the city’s sidewalks.
Cooper plans to run for re-election when her current term is up. “I truly love being mayor,” she says.