BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Leland resident John Bradley is seeking to be elected for a first term on Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO.
Author’s note: Port City Daily’s candidate interviews are largely unedited. Edits have only been made to correct spelling or grammatical errors. Candidates were not given word or character limits to answer each question. Questions were delivered to candidates prior to the moratorium being lifted on September 27.
What is your campaign platform?
Restore the credibility of H2GO and earn the trust and confidence of the voters.
What makes you qualified to serve as commissioner of a water and sewer utility?
There are two aspects to this answer:
1) Education and Experience: I am a degreed Mechanical Engineer and have a master’s degree in Engineering Administration. Much of the work in obtaining that degree was in
conducting, and understanding, financial analysis for complex projects. In addition, I have about 36 years’ experience in the design and management of complex projects with
IBM and Lexmark, Intl., including working with vendors both domestically and overseas.
2) Ethics: I am a strong believer in the rule of law and that companies must be operated in an ethical, lawful and transparent manner. The unlawful actions of the previous board, ending in 2017, and fully supported by the Hosmer/Laub team, badly damaged the credibility of H2GO. I feel that Chairman Gerken and I can work with the sitting board
members to restore that credibility much more effectively than our opposition.
The Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant is under moratorium for exceeding capacity in 2018. H2GO’s Chappell Loop Road plant has neared capacity for years (but can’t upgrade due to a 2010 court order resulting from Brunswick County’s lawsuit). Which parties, in your opinion, should be held accountable for this scenario?
Many voters may not realize that the H2GO WWT plant is legally limited to 400kgal/day. Because of this limitation, and since they have the ability to send any excess to the Brunswick County WWT, the rules are interpreted somewhat differently than most WWT plant. The problems at the Northeast WWT were caused by excessive I&I as a result of Hurricane Florence. Because they are operating in compliance and are well along with upgrade plans, the moratorium has been lifted.
What lessons should regional leaders learn from this scenario, and what solutions can you bring to the table?
This was such a severe storm and happened early in the upgrade plans, when they were getting close to the maximum capacity. It may be worth reconsidering when the upgrade process is started, possibly at a lower percentage of maximum capacity. While no spills occurred during the storm, it would be prudent to revisit the process.
What would you (or do you) say to customers in the region who are frustrated with their utility providers given the moratorium, lawsuit, and years of political battles over public utilities?
Vote for Jeff Gerken and John Bradley. While the H2GO commissioners have no say in the upgrading of, or in the operation of the Brunswick WWT plant, the other problems can be laid directly at feet of the H2GO Board of Commissioners. They have lied to their customers from 2013 when they raised rates to cover the future RO system and told their customers that it was needed because of a rate increase by Brunswick Co., when they entered executive session for the declared purpose of employee discussion when they actually heard a presentation from their RO engineering firm and of course when they tried to subvert the election results by giving away the company. This has got to stop. It is up to the H2GO Board of Commissioners to make it happen and Chairman Gerken and I are clearly better equipped to restore faith in H2GO than our opposition.
It’s been a nasty couple of years. Campaign material from both tickets show this race won’t be pretty while both sides defend their position statements and past actions. Can you try to compliment each of your opponents on one topic or issue?
I left this question for last because it bothers me greatly. Both Mr. Hosmer and Mr. Laub are educated men. I hate that I can not find anything better than that to say about two people but I refuse to lie and make up some platitudes that I cannot honestly say I believe. Chairman Gerken and I have tried very hard to maintain the “high road” and campaign on our strengths, but when I see the misinformation being spread by our opponents, and the vile comments made at the H2GO Board of Commissioners meeting, I feel the voters have the right to know the truth and I will respond.
What’s one thing about you that people misunderstand? What would you like voters to understand more clearly about you?
I am fairly new to Leland so I don’t know of any misunderstandings that people may have of me, unless they believe our opponents’ distortions. What I have been trying to get across to the voters is simple: here are my qualifications and experience, here is where I stand on the issues and I can only hope you give me a chance to show you where I stand ethically. More information on myself, and Chairman Gerken, can be found at our web site: www.GerkenBradley.com.
Do you agree with how 2017 Belville Commissioners and outgoing H2GO Commissioners orchestrated the transfer outside of public review or knowledge? Why or why not?
No. I feel what they did was illegal, unethical, against the entire Code of Ethics they promised to uphold as Commissioners. I am a strong believer that laws are to be respected and followed. Laws that you do not agree with, you should work to see them changed, but nobody has the right to disregard them. There is no place in H2GO for the back-room politics that took place in 2017.
Do you see any drawbacks to the current settlement proposal, which includes the option to absorb all of Leland’s utilities? Do you see benefits?
I think the H2GO-Leland-Belville proposal is a great step forward for all three entities. It allows H2GO to move forward and by adding the Leland assets to H2GOs will lead to greater efficiencies in the providing of these services. I hope that it will lead to greater cooperation among the local governments. I have been opposed to the H2GO RO, primarily on financial issues, but adding the Leland customer base will make it much more viable. I would like to see Brunswick county participate and, as a Commissioner, will try to keep that avenue open in the future.
Do you have any remaining reservations about working with the Town of Leland, given the town’s past actions to attempt to dissolve the utility and stop the proposed plant?
No, I do not foresee any problems working with the Leland government.
Do you have any remaining reservations about working with the Town of Belville, given the town’s past actions to attempt to absorb the utility to “save” the proposed plant?
No, I don’t think there should be any problems. They seem to have their own agenda on some topics, but I see no reason not to be able to work with Belville to the benefit of both H2GO and Belville.
Anything else you’d like to share with voters?
I feel this is a very important election for setting the direction for H2GO. The voter’s choice is very clear. You can vote for two candidates with strong educational backgrounds and work experiences that are very well suited to carrying out the responsibilities of H2GO Commissioners and with ethical standards that will enable the H2GO Board of Commissioners to regain your trust and respect. Or you can vote for sales/marketing hype from two candidates who stood squarely behind the unlawful activities of the prior board and have shown no interest in working for the good of the majority of H2GO voters, but clearly want to represent the wishes of a small group. Your choice.
More information on John Bradley and his platform can be found on his campaign website.