Tom Bradford is going back to work. The retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department captain is the newest member of the Big Bear Municipal Water District board of directors.

Bradford was one of two applicants to fill Vince Smith’s seat in Division 5 on the board. Smith resigned in August to move out of state. Mason Perry also applied to fill the seat.

At a special Saturday meeting on Nov. 2, the remaining board interviewed the two candidates seeking the seat. In a somewhat unusual process, the board interviewed the candidates at the same time, asking the questions one at a time, but giving both applicants the opportunity to answer.

Board member Charlie Brewster, before making a motion toward appointment versus special election, said they had two well qualified applicants. The vote to appoint Bradford was unanimous later in the meeting.

Prior to the business portion of the meeting, board president Bob Ludecke explained the process and assigned two questions to each board member to ask the applicants. Ludecke reminded his fellow board members that if they chose to ask additional questions, the questions must be directed to both candidates and both be allowed to answer.

Perry and Bradford provided information on their qualifications and why they wanted to be selected. They were asked what they felt was the most important project the MWD is involved in. Perry gave three answers — the in-lieu agreement to keep the lake level stable, the fish hatchery and Replenish Big Bear — but said the No. 1 in his opinion is the in-lieu agreement.

Bradford cited the fish hatchery as the top project. The funding is there and it will have a big benefit for the lake, he said.

Each candidate was also asked what things the MWD might be struggling with. Bradford said he would like to see a more aggressive approach on warm water fish habitat, suggesting forming a volunteer program to build and maintain the habitat. Perry wants to see the Cool Kids program continue and expand. He said he would also like to see a public education campaign launched to promote and explain the MWD mission.

Following the interviews, the board was asked to formally decide if filling the seat was to be done by appointment or special election. Once the motion was on the floor, board member Larry Cooke said he felt the decision was made in committee. He said he felt uncomfortable voting at this time.

The district’s legal counsel assured the board it was in compliance and even went beyond in allowing anyone who wanted to apply to do so at the meeting. Cooke abstained on the formal action to appoint.

Cooke also suggested the decision as to which candidate to appoint be made in closed session. The Grizzly objected immediately and the MWD’s counsel advised Cooke and the board that this matter does not fall under the allowances for closed session.

Bradford was invited to take a seat at the dais, although he hasn’t been sworn into office. He will fill out the required paperwork and a meeting set for him to take the oath of office. That date has not been set.

Read more about Tom Bradford in the Nov. 6 issue of the Big Bear Grizzly.

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