The Quay County Sun sat down with Quay County District 3 commissioner-elect Brad Bryant Tuesday morning in his office at the Modern Woodmen of America insurance agency. Bryant talked about his background as a Quay County resident and his goals as commissioner.
Can you tell us about your background?
My parents graduated from San Jon and moved away, but we came back in 1976, so I've been here since '76. I graduated from San Jon High School. I started working in town for the company I work for now in 1993.
What kept you in Tucumcari?
I like the small community. I've lived in other places prior to coming back here in '93, and I like the small-town atmosphere, I like knowing everybody. I like being able to get things done when you want to and being able to talk to people. That's what I like most, I think. I don't think I'd live anywhere else, and I've tried. I like it here. The small schools are a plus. I like that my kids are getting to go to the same school I went to and I enjoyed it.
What made you decide to run for Quay County commissioner?
Well I'll tell you, what got me to thinking was in the '90s I was very involved. (In the) mid-to-late 90s, with the (Tucumcari) Economic Development Corporation, I was on that board. I was on the (Tucumcari) chamber board. I was just very involved. I was actually the mayor of San Jon for many years and I had just kind of gotten away from it and I wanted back in. I wanted to know what was going on and where we were at. I wanted to give back a little. Quay County has been good to me over the years and I wanted to give back some, so this is the way I could do it. It just worked out to where I decided this is a way I can get involved and give back to the community that's been good to me, so that's what I did. Prior to becoming commissioner, I had been running the Quay County little league for about three or for years and finally passed the torch there, so that freed up quite a bit of time for me to do some other things.
What is your main objective going into office?
You know, I think just knowledge is my main objective. I've been going to the meetings for the last two or three months, just trying to pick up and figure out where everybody's at. I knew I'd be green when I started, but I didn't want to start without knowing anything about what was going on, so being able to attend the meetings and just listen and talk to the commissioners has given me a jump start on getting ready for this first real commission meeting where I'll actually be a commissioner, but I think knowledge is the key. I want to dig in. I want to find out where we're at. I feel really comfortable with the manager and the other commissioners. We're in a great direction. I'm hoping I can just add a little to it. Not change anything, maybe just add some new vision to it.
Do you have any particular initiatives or policies you plan to undertake?
No, not particularly. I really didn't run with any agenda because I've been removed from it for so long that I didn't know what some of the main issues are. Of course, the roads are always an issue and things like that, but that's getting addressed as we speak and so, no -- no particular agendas. I would love to see growth. I know that's going to be a tough one. That's going to be hard, but I'd love to see Tucumcari and Quay County, San Jon, Logan and Nara Visa, I'd love to see us grow a little some way or another, but we'll just have to keep our eyes open and look.
You are replacing Franklin McCasland as District 3 commissioner. Has he given you any pointers on the position, or have the two of you discussed it?
Franklin is a longtime friend. I've known him for 30 years. When I told him I was going to run I think he was happy about that. He said, "I'll help where I can. I'm not going to get in your way, not going to influence you." So he's been really good to just kind of stay back in the curtain and let me trip and fall where I need to, but he's willing to help. If anything comes up, I would feel comfortable asking Franklin about it. After eight years, he's picked up a lot of things that I don't particularly want to spend eight years trying to learn, so it's a wealth of knowledge to be able to go back and have him tell you about something that went on or something that's happened, or bring you up to speed on an issue. So he's going to be an asset, no doubt about that.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an elected official?
Well, I don't think you can keep everybody happy, but I think if you truly do bring the issues from your constituents, from your district, to the board meeting and bring their concerns, I think that's the biggest issue, is just trying to make sure that you're the voice for your district. If there's something wrong, the people, their first stop should be me, the commissioner, and let me bring it to the board and let me try to rectify the situation.
What are your constituents concerned about?
Roads are going to be the number one. Always have been. In District 3 there's a lot, a lot of miles of roads. It covers from Nara Visa all the way to the Caprock and San Jon, picks up Logan and so that's an ongoing issue that we'll address every meeting. And there will be roads out there that I need to go look at on a regular basis, and that works out good for me. I do a lot of work on this part of the county anyway at my job so that'll be handy. I can stop and bring those concerns back, look at the roads and bring them back to the board.
What do you do at Modern Woodmen of America?
We're a full-sized financial services business. We do everything from individual life insurance to business retirement plans. If it has to do with money, that's what we deal with. I have individual accounts and lots of business accounts. That's all we do is help people save.
Do you feel your experience as an insurance agent will help you fulfill your duties as Quay County commissioner?
Maybe in a couple of ways. I think I'm very fortunate in this job. I get to travel all the way from Clayton down to Roswell, so I've met a lot of people in this job, and I have a lot of clients north and south and around the district, and that helps. I don't think I'm an unknown. I think I'm very approachable. There's no fear in coming up and saying, "Hey, I've got a problem," or calling and saying, "Hey, here's what going on." So I think that helps some. In 18 years I've had a chance to meet a lot of people and learn how to listen.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am going into this on my own free will. This is something I wanted to do. I wanted to give back to the community and I can only hope at the end of the four-year term I can look back and say, "Hey, I contributed in a place or two," and I think I will. I get sworn in on the 3rd and we'll go from there.