Mayor Jake Day departing for U.S. Army deployment

Jake Day will leave Salisbury for a 10-month Army deployment.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day is leaving next week for an overseas deployment with the U.S. Army that will take him to the Horn of Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Day, a Captain with the Maryland Army National Guard, will be away for up to 10 months.

He will leave City Administrator Julia Glanz in charge as acting mayor.

“I’m confident she has the management chops to keep the team together,” he said.

As acting mayor, Glanz will have all the powers of an elected mayor, except for vetoes. There will be no changes to the City Council, but Council President Jack Heath has been asked to step up as a senior elected official, Day said.

Glanz also will take over the daily 5 p.m. Coronavirus update on Facebook Live that Day started in late March as a way to keep the public informed of the latest developments.

While Day will be able to check in periodically while overseas, his availability will be anything but certain. The time zone for the portion of Africa in which he will be serving is 7 hours ahead of Salisbury.

City department heads were notified of the changes as soon as Day’s orders came through on Tuesday.

More details are expected to be announced during a Thursday morning news conference.

It is uncertain if Day will be able to communicate with anyone back in Salisbury on a regular basis. “I don’t know,” he said. “But we’re certainly treating it as if I won’t.”

He will be one of three U.S. mayors deployed to combat zones during their terms in office. Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 while in office. North Ogden, Utah, Mayor Brent Taylor was killed in 2018 while serving in Afghanistan.

City Administrator Julia Glanz will serve as Acting Mayor.

Day is acquainted with Buttigieg through the United States Conference of Mayors and he called the former Democratic presidential candidate for advice a few weeks ago.

In Africa, Day will be working as an information operations officer with the U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Operations Command in a 12-country region. He will likely spend time in Somalia and Djibouti with a focus on fighting terrorist groups al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab.

His National Guard unit, the 110th Information Operations Battalion, is on ongoing rotation to support the effort in Africa and Day said he knew he would eventually be deployed. He is part of the 13th team from the battalion to be sent overseas.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I have a team of expert professionals to go into battle with.”

But Day said he will worry about his wife, Liz, and their two young daughters while he is away, and hopes the community will “wrap their arms around them” in his absence.

He also hopes Salisbury residents won’t think he’s abandoning them in the middle of a pandemic.

“I acknowledge this is a difficult time for everybody,” he said. “But you don’t get a choice when Uncle Sam calls.”

The Day family at the Mayor’s swearing-in ceremony in November.

Day was first elected Mayor in 2015 and was re-elected last November. Before that, he was elected to the Salisbury City Council in 2013 and immediately became Council President.

During his first term, Day carried out an ambitious agenda. He initiated a program to reduce homelessness in the city, started community centers on Truitt and Newton streets, added police officers, rebuilt the Riverwalk and added an amphitheater, began improvements to long-neglected Fitzwater Street and started the Main Street revitalization plan that was approved and financed under former Mayor Jim Ireton.

Day also was successful in attracting the National Folk Festival for a three-year run in Salisbury. Last year’s event had a $45 million total economic impact on the area and drew 153,911 unique visitors to the event, according to a study by the Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University.

A Salisbury native, Day has a master’s of science degree in Nature, Society & Environmental Policy from Oxford University, a master’s in Urban Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Maryland.

Before becoming Mayor, he worked for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy where he served as the director of the Center for Towns.

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