Skip to Main Content

Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Joe McGinnis

Joe McGinnis was born in 1936 and the spent the majority of his childhood living within the city limits of Carrollton. This interview discusses his family, school years, professional life, service on the Carrollton City School Board (1977-1993), and his activities as mayor of Carrollton (1993-1999). His father, Gilbert McGinnis, built the house on 1100 Dixie Street. McGinnis' father died when he was 15 years old, and his mother, Lois, had to support him and his siblings. At Carrollton High School, McGinnis played quarterback and was captain of the football team, while also serving as class president his senior year. After high school, he entered into a dual enrollment system at Georgia Tech, in which he spent a semester enrolled in classes and the next semester working. He married his high school sweetheart, Carole Copeland. McGinnis struggled to keep up with his coursework at Georgia Tech and he joined the Army Reserves. After graduating from Georgia State University in 1963 with a degree in Business Administration, he worked at the Reynolds Metal Company. After travelling the Southeast for the Reynolds Metal Company, McGinnis returned to Carrollton in 1975 and purchased Copeland Groceries, the stored owned by his father-in-law. He and his wife bought a house on 216 Cedar Street where they raised their three sons. In 1977 he successfully ran for the Carrollton City School Board and served on the Board until he became mayor in 1993. McGinnis was recounts upgrading school buildings and racial relations at that time. In 1993, after the retirement of Tracy Stallings as mayor of Carrollton, McGinnis decided to run for mayoral office. McGinnis was a Democrat, but the mayoral race was non-partisan. McGinnis discusses the day-to-day city operations which were taken care of by the city manager. He recalls issues such as whether or not to legalize alcohol sales in Carrollton, SPLOST, taxes, and how he worked to form good relationships with the growing University of West Georgia and the Southwire Company, since both were important economic producers for Carrollton. McGinnis recounts a meeting with County Commissioner, Horrie Duncan at the County Jail in which McGinnis witnesses Duncan severely beating an African-American inmate working in the kitchen. McGinnis reflects that his 1999 mayoral loss to Gerald Pilgrim may be due to Pilgrim’s attendance at the Tabernacle Baptist Church which had many more members than the First United Methodist Church of which McGinnis was a member.