The Observer asked candidates competing in the primary races for seats on the Mecklenburg Board of County commissioners a series of questions about county issues. Below are the responses of Keith Bradford, a candidate in the Democratic primary forDistrict 1. Some answers have been edited for clarity.
Q. What issue in county government do you feel merits more attention? What will you do as commissioner to address that issue?
The budget affects all areas that fall under the county commission’s authority. It’s the domino effect; we are responsible for vital areas such as the education, health/human services, and the county jails are the top three. I would review the current budget and how the services and programs are effective or not.
Q. What services or programs do you believe should receive top priority in the budget? What areas would you cut?
First, I would like to talk with staff and go over the budget to review all the services and programs. Then, I would have a better idea of what is top priority. I would like to state that Education, and Health/Human Services are at the top of my list. We most also look at the county jail system and what type of funding is being allocated in that area as well. We need to be fiscal as well as realistic on what is working and what’s not working in making the best decision of what areas are top when it comes to budgetary items.
Q. The county has faced some criticisms over its handling of the 2011 revaluation, including communication with residents. How would you assess the county’s performance and what, if any, changes would you like to see in the future?
I would have town hall meetings within District 1 where county staff can go over how this process is done and evaluated. Once the process is completed and notices went out, then I would have a follow-up meeting on how to file claims for revaluation. I would assess the county’s performance as fair and the changes as stated above would be how I would keep my district informed of all things that affect them within the County.
Q. The current board has, at times, drawn more attention because of conflict among commissioners than their work on policy issues. How will you build consensus with other members of the board? What will you do to reach out to members of your opposing political party?
First and foremost, we need to sit down and talk about the real issues affecting our districts as well as our county as a whole. Dialog is important and the ability to agree to disagree is at the top of my list. Where I may feel the concerns and issues in my district may be the most important, I must consider ideas and plans that cover all of Mecklenburg County. At the end of the day, it’s not about political party. It’s about the concerns and issues of Mecklenburg County.
Q. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has hired a new superintendent. What would you say is the top issue or initiative that should be at the top of the new superintendent’s to-do list?
I believe that the new superintendent should look at the dynamics of the current system. Review what’s working and what is not. Have real conversations with administration, as well as all staff. To work on a plan where all children are educated fair and equally based on specific needs. Address the teacher issues that are realistic so they can move forward in educating the all students of CMS. Look at cutting the areas that are not working or not a benefit to the education of all the students in CMS and enhancing the areas that are in the best interest of the students, teachers and staff.
Q. Why should voters pick you and not your opponent?
1. I have been very active in my District for the 12 years that I have lived in District 1.
2. I am a community activist.
3. I listen and engage with all residents of District 1.
4. At the end of the day, you know that I will work hard for the betterment of District 1.