On July 31, 1942, future Little Rock Mayor Dalton James “Jim” Dailey, Jr. was born to Dalton and Ellen Dailey. After graduating from Little Rock Catholic High School, he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He joined his father in the family business, Dailey’s Office Furniture.
In 1974, Dailey was elected to the City of Little Rock Board of Directors. He served one four-year term. The last two years of that term, he was the Vice Mayor of Little Rock.
Following that term, he remained engaged in civic activities including serving in leadership capacities in community campaigns. He also served as president of the National Office Products Association – the first Arkansan to do so. Dailey also served as the founding chair of Leadership Greater Little Rock.
In 1988, Dailey was elected to return to the City Board. He was reelected in 1992. Dailey served as Vice Mayor in 1991 and 1992. In January 1993, he was chosen by his fellow City Directors to serve a two year term as Mayor. Under his leadership, the Future-Little Rock goal-setting process took place.
Following a voter-approved change to the City structure, the position of Mayor was changed to be elected by the people while maintaining the City Manager form of government. On January 1, 1995, Jim Dailey was sworn in as the first popularly-elected Mayor of the City of Little Rock in over 38 years.
Dailey has served on the Board of Directors for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Metroplan, Communities in Schools, Arkansas BioVentures and New Futures for Youth. He was appointed to the National League of Cities Board of Directors and the Municipalities in Transition on Public Finance.
As Mayor, he served as Chair of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee of the Federal Communications Commission. He was also a member of the United States Conference of Mayor’s Communications Task Force. He also served as president of the Arkansas Municipal League in 2002 and 2003.
While he was Mayor of Little Rock, he was a strong proponent of the development of the River Market and worked to locate the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. He also worked to increase public safety support. He also oversaw the establishment of Central Arkansas Water, the development of downtown headquarters for Acxiom Corporation and Heifer International, and the creation of Prevention, Intervention and Treatment programs. In addition, he was instrumental in leading the efforts for the 40th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High in 1997.
Mayor Dailey was re-elected in 1998 and 2002. His fourteen years as Mayor of Little Rock set a longevity record. Upon his retirement the City’s fitness center was renamed the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center. This was in recognition of his lifelong interest in wellness activities.
Since leaving office, he has continued his civic involvement by serving as a member of the Little Rock Airport Commission which oversees the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. He is also involved in commercial real estate.
Since 1965, he has been married to the former Patti Murphy. They have four children and six grandchildren.