Glenda Key: Bloomingdale’s First Female Vice Mayor
Story by Katrice Williams
Photos by Emily Roscher
Glenda Key was elected vice mayor of Bloomingdale, Georgia, in the recent January 6 city election. The new vice mayor is thrilled to become the first female elected to the office, working alongside Bloomingdale’s newly-elected mayor Dennis Baxter.
“It was overwhelming. It was very touching because I had a big support system,” Glenda said. “I feel honored. I hope I can be a great asset to the community.”
Glenda has been in Bloomingdale for more than 37 years, so the city has long been home to her and her family. Glenda and her husband Sidney are the proud parents of four and grandparents of eight.
Finding Her Way into Politics
The local political scene is not foreign to Glenda, as she served on the city’s planning board for four years.
“I loved working with the city,” she said of her time working in the best interest of Bloomingdale.
However, for much of her life, Glenda’s professional career was far from the political arena. For more than 30 years before becoming vice mayor, Glenda was a career licensed cosmetologist and the owner and operator of Glenda’s Hair Salon in Bloomingdale.
In fact, she credits her career as a stylist to having a meaningful impact on where she is today. Whether engaging in small talk or merely exchanging routine pleasantries with customers, Glenda often heard, first-hand, how concerned citizens felt and what they wanted for their city. She feels that the relationships she established within the community over all those years have been priceless.
Glenda is confident that she is a relatable and caring professional with a true understanding of community needs, allowing her to be a realistic representative for Bloomingdale—a city she loves and a community that she has always been proud to be a part of.
“It’s such a close-knit community. I loved raising my children here, and I love that my grandchildren are being raised here. I love my city with all my heart,” she said.
Glenda will forever be grateful for two people who were true inspirations in every facet of her life—people who had a beautiful and lasting impact on her, contributing to the woman she is today—her mom and dad Claydie and John Perkins.
“They were the loves of my life. They taught me to love strong because love brings strength,” she said.
Professional Role Models
Two of Glenda’s most notable professional role models were her father-in-law Albert Key and her mother-in-law Virginia Key who both served on the council years ago. Through both of them, Glenda saw the importance of playing an active role in the community and the positive impact that strong community leaders can have on the city.
“Albert Key was one of my biggest influences,” she said.
Another of Glenda’s biggest professional mentors has long been Mayor Billy Strozier, who was elected mayor of Bloomingdale in 1986. He served as mayor for 16 years and was on the city council for 14 years. She admires the heart he possessed for the city and appreciates all that he has contributed to the community. Even more, she values him as a good friend.
Glenda’s campaign trail exemplified community. It was exciting to work toward overcoming a new and challenging feat—one yielding results that would impact the entire community in some way. Glenda appreciates all the support she received from individuals whose tireless help and dedication helped her to become the new vice mayor. She recalls family and friends traveling by golf cart with her door-to-door to spread the word. She even received the assistance of a few former city council members. The tremendous effort—the outpouring of love, kindness and support—was something she deeply cherishes. Glenda feels privileged to have such a kind and committed group of individuals on her team.
“I received a lot of support from friends and previous council members. Mayor Strozier also helped out a lot,” she said.
Glenda gives credit where it is due. The love of her life, her husband Sidney, was always in the trenches with her. “My husband is my biggest supporter,” she said.
In addition, Glenda is particularly thankful for the efforts of her daughter and son: Becky Knowles and Blake Key. Their hard work and diligence made a world of difference to her through it all. “It was a family thing,” she said.
Looking to the Future
Looking ahead, Glenda is anticipating the positive growth and development the community will see, and she is excited to be a part of it all.
“Every city has room for growth. I want to listen to the citizens and work with the council to make the best decisions for our town,” she said.
Many citizens are anxious about growth in the area; however, gradual yet sensibly consistent growth is often preferred—that which will not stifle much of the city’s resources, cause the city undesirable congestion and burdens or undo the very intrinsic fabric that has long made the community what it is. City Administrator Charles Ackridge, along with other local officials, strive to make good and judicious decisions for the community.
“We have a wonderful group of people with a common goal. Our city administrator Charles Ackridge works well with the council and mayor. They have the community’s best interest at heart,” she said.
City leaders are working toward various goals that should prove to be in the best interest of the city. They want to be attentive to the needs of citizens while also making wise and conscientious decisions—those that will continue to reap a favorable outcome for the community in the years to come.
Glenda anticipates more residential growth to the area. She also understands that industrialization can be instrumental to a thriving economy. Glenda, however, is aware of the impact that rapid and vast industrialization can have on any community, and she does not want citizens’ livelihoods to be negatively impacted. Hence, she understands the value of being prudent in making decisions for residents.
Glenda mentions that another big goal for the city is to work on water and sewage needs in order to better accommodate the growing community.
“We are trying to focus on gaining more water and sewage capacity. That will make a great difference,” she said.
Glenda is looking forward to the completion of a community gym for kids to enjoy. Moreover, she anticipates more available activities for the city’s senior citizens.
Speaking of seniors, they have maintained a special place in Glenda’s heart for a long time. She lovingly remembers spending a lot of very treasured time with her mom Claydie at Bryan County Rehab after Claydie had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. “She was an amazing woman,” Glenda said.
At the time, her mom became very fond of baby dolls, so Glenda and her sister Ann Smith bought her a doll of her own, who she named Abigail. Glenda teases that she thinks her mom soon grew to love Abigail more than her real children—the two were nearly inseparable. The doll was such a hit that it was adored by some of the other residents as well. So Glenda and Ann took on the task of providing dolls for the other ladies who resided there, naming the cause “Me-Ma’s Baby Doll Mission.”
Glenda Key has long possessed a heart for others and for her community. She is looking forward to a bright and prosperous future for Bloomingdale—a city that will forever be in her heart.