A third candidate has filed his papers for the District 5 school board seat currently held by Chairman Ron Martin.
Richard Bradley is a Key Largo hypnotherapist, working out of a small home office. He ran for the same seat four years ago, but lost to Martin, who already has already taken the steps to run again.
Bradley is a former British military intelligence officer from Manchester, England, who moved to the U.S. with his wife 10 years ago "following the American Dream, like everybody."
Since arriving in America with his nurse wife, Bradley has become a nurse himself, though he has currently put that career on hold to concentrate on expanding his own business into an office on the Overseas Highway.
He has been a U.S. citizen for the past five years, and has a 9-year-old son currently in third grade at Key Largo School.
Bradley is convinced that the district has been on a downward slide for at least as long as he's been here to witness it.
"It's not got any better, that's for sure," he said. "I have no disrespect for Ron. He's a lovely guy, but he's an administrator with the same background as Debra Walker, who he replaced. So, management has had a change of face, but not a change of practice."
Bradley noted that in taking his citizenship examination, he was constantly reminded of the need for checks and balances in government.
"That's not what we have right now in the district," he said. "We have administrators at the schools. Do we really need them at the school board level, as well? Ideally, I think we want to have some lay people, parents of students, who will have their interests at heart. My son is my chip in the game. He's going to be in the Monroe County system for some years to come, and the standards are slipping. I think it's time for a change."
Bradley said he is also the newest officer of the Civil Air Patrol, auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, as well as the Cubmaster for Pack 999 at St. James the Fisherman Church in Islamorada. He claims membership in his local Masonic Lodge, as well as the Shriners, at Scottish Rite Temple in Key West.
"I'm active with all the Masonic charities throughout the Keys," he said.
As for Bradley's own education, he holds a high-school diploma from the United Kingdom, as well as a diploma in applied hypnosis and hypnotherapy from another British institution, and a nursing certificate from a school in Miami.
"I look around at the continuing decay and slide and I see a worsening economy, health care turned on edge and, yes, even schools here in Monroe still with falling and failing standards," Bradley wrote on his Facebook page recently. "As a proud parent, I have to stand up and try to make a difference, to fight for what is right, to stop standards slipping away which are sorely missing, and fight for a moral code that seems to have evaporated in the heat. Our schools should be the envy of the world not ranked in the low 20s or 30s."
Besides Martin and Bradley, retired educator Dennis Caltagirone is also running for the seat.