Age: 49 Address: 1509 Brink Court Family: He and his wife, Trish, have a 15-year-old son, Zach, who is a ninth-grader at Southwest Junior High. Occupation: Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical chief
Mark Bradford was considering an end to a 23-year career in fire service when he got a call from Lawrence.
The call was from then Lawrence fire chief Jim McSwain, who asked if Bradford would apply for his department’s deputy chief position.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll go over and talk to him,’” said Bradford, assistant fire chief in Lee’s Summit, Mo., at the time. “And here we are.”
That was eight years ago. He’s since been promoted and has been chief of the Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical team since September 2005. Now he’s ready to expand his service to the community by running for one of the three open seats on the Lawrence school board.
“I want to be more involved in the community and this is one where, again, I have an investment,” Bradford said. He has a 15-year-old son at Southwest Junior High, but he’s also concerned about the city of Lawrence as a whole.
“I also think it’s an investment because of the economic development issues which, as we all know, are key in the city, not only for school district tax issues, but also for municipal tax issues,” he said.
Bradford has been managing organizations for more than 20 years and that, he says, is important experience to have, especially when those organizations are run similar to how the school board works.
“There’s a lot of similarities between municipal government and school district government, if you will,” he said. “That involves, obviously, both revenues and expenditures.”
Bradford also notes his experience with working with unions and negotiations. “I believe in a participatory type management style,” he said.
Plus, joining the school board is another place he can use what he learned during his time completing a master’s degree in public administration. Bradford is also a Kansas state certified public manager.
“I have the experience in working with budgets, working with people, working with organizations, doing a total review of organizations,” he said.
While being fire chief is a demanding job, some of Bradford’s other commitments in community groups are coming to an end. He feels now is the time to take advantage of the openings on his calendar.
Bradford has some issues that he plans to focus on if elected to the school board.
The first is the welfare of the academic process for the children and that the taxpayers determine the level of that process.
“I think we hold a very high standard here in Lawrence and obviously we pay a certain amount of money to get that,” Bradford said.
That also ties in to another priority — budget woes.
Bradford wants to make sure money is being used wisely and efficiently. When money is tight, as the state government says it will be at least this year and next, it adds a burden to making sure things work, he said.
And a smaller budget means cuts are going to have to be made. Bradford thinks a key factor in finance is the school district staff, which takes up over 80 percent budget.
“If we are having to reduce, which I think we are, significant expenditures, then one thing we’ll have to look at is people and how to make that work,” Bradford said.
He said the staff, from the superintendent to the custodians, are excellent and they should be in on how to make cuts.
“They’re the ones that should be part of this decision-making process on how to make this manageable,” Bradford said.
He also wants to make sure the community works together to educate students.
“It’s a community and we as a community have to provide education to our youth,” Bradford said.