Outgoing Commissioner Bradley hailed for hard work

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.

As outgoing Alachua County Commissioner Winston Bradley leaves his post, his fellow commissioners say he worked hard to get up to speed quickly on the board’s most challenging issues.

When Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the Alachua County Commission in February, Bradley resigned from his longtime position on the Santa Fe College board of trustees to assume his first local government gig. He joined the commission at 71 years old to fill the seat left by former Commissioner Rodney Long, making him both the oldest and least experienced member of the board.

Bradley, a Republican, worked for more than two decades as an Allstate Insurance agency owner before eventually retiring and founded Kingdom Life Ministries in 2005, for which he still serves as pastor.

He previously had run for the Alachua County School Board in 1992 and 1996.

Bradley spent 14 years as a trustee and 12 years on the Gainesville Housing Authority Board, so he was well-versed in civic involvement before joining the commission. But it was still a new environment, and he was thrown into the mix at a vital time as the board developed a budget for fiscal year 2013 and slogged through updates to the Unified Land Development Code.

“I’m very proud of his ability to stay firm and be tough,” Commissioner Susan Baird said. “He was strong enough to vote his values.”

She said he stood firm even when Gainesville city commissioners criticized his decisions.

Bradley butted heads with them at a City Commission meeting in September over the “Fix Our Roads” sales tax referendum, which voters defeated this month and the City Commission officially opposed.

Bradley’s appointment shifted the board in a more conservative direction. He often voted with fellow Republican Baird and Democratic Commissioner Lee Pinkoson.

Pinkoson commended Bradley on devoting his efforts to educating himself about the complicated issues the county addressed this year, on which he was expected to vote after missing many of the background discussions that occurred before he joined the board.

“It was obvious that he cared about Alachua County and the people,” Pinkoson said.

Bradley said he was relieved to relinquish his seat to incoming Commissioner Charles S. “Chuck” Chestnut IV, a Democrat, who will be sworn into office today, but found his time on the board rewarding.

“I came in at a real tough time when so much was going on,” he said, citing the fiscal year 2013 budget as the biggest challenge.

At his last regular commission meeting on Nov. 13, he received an engraved gift as a thank you for his service.

“If I have any regrets, my greatest regret is really that we were not able to give the employees a raise, and I’m hoping the new commission will be able to do that,” he said at the meeting.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said he admired Bradley for taking on the responsibility of becoming a commissioner, even though it meant stepping down from the board of trustees.

His experience delving into complex issues that impacted the college gave him a solid background to serve in local government, Sasser said. He especially appreciated Bradley’s integrity, which kept him “honest to the core,” as well as the personal support he offered.

“I always felt like he had my back 100 percent, and you don’t forget those things,” Sasser said. “You just don’t forget it.”

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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