Archive for Monday, March 9, 2009

Fire chief looking for deeper community involvement

March 9, 2009


Mark Bradford

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.

Mirrored experience

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.

The issues

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.


chargdup 9 years, 1 month ago

Please explain how working for the City and being on the school board isn't a huge conflict of interest.

thinkagain 9 years, 1 month ago

USD497 isn't a City of Lawrence Department. School Districts have State oversight.

truckfan 9 years, 1 month ago

Bradford is a great guy. he'll make a good school board member

NoOneSpecial 9 years, 1 month ago

I think the Lawrence community, and also the men and women of the Lawrence Fire Department, deserve a full-time fire chief. Bradford should concentrate on the job he has now and run for office later.

fiercesomeus 9 years, 1 month ago

Pogo how do you think Bill Self came to K.U

Lynn Wilson-Bruce 9 years, 1 month ago

Bradford should just RETIRE!!! He won't be able to give 100% as Fire Chief! He would do more good on the school board than what he is doing now. I never see him out and about OR at any functions like the helmet fair. Plus I hear he isn't in the best of health.

Peter Houston 9 years ago

If they really want to "make a difference" then why doesn't Mrs. Bradford run for school board so her husband can concentrate on the job which we taxpayers are currently paying him well over $100,000/year to perform?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.