Sunday, August 15, 2010

Interview with Kevin Bradley, Candidate Running for U.S. House of Representatives in the State of Colorado

Mr. Kevin Bradley and I recently connected through a mutual friend (who is now, incidentally, the Communications Director for his campaign). It is with great pleasure to share this interview I had with him this past week. I've included my introductory email, too.

Dear Kevin (if I may):

Thank you for allowing me to interview you for Education Matters. So you are aware, I am an advocate for student loan debtors in the U.S. Education Matters is the place where I write about my research on the student lending crisis. I feature debtors on a regular basis, and try to stay in touch with leaders in D.C. about this issue. That is my primary focus. However, the student lending crisis intersects with all the major issues/other crises that the U.S. is facing today, i.e., stagnant wages for the lower- and middle-classes, unaffordable health care, home foreclosures, etc.

That's just a very brief introduction, so you know who I am and what I am about. So, without further adieu, let's get down to the questions. 

CCJ: Kevin, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? What is your family like? Where did you go to school, and what did you study? Does your personal background influence your professional life? If so, how? What were some of the values your family instilled in you, and have those values affected your politics? 

KB: I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado.  I am the second of four children. I have an older brother and a younger brother and sister. As the “middle child” I was the peacemaker and go-between. My father was an accountant and mid-level manager at Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph, later Mountain Bell, later US West, currently Qwest.  My mother was a “stay at home” mom until I was in middle school. She returned to the workplace when all of her children were in school.  My mom returned to college at the same time that I enrolled, and she got a couple degrees in Nursing. She eventually became a registered nurse. My father was a company man and as his son, it was my job to test his choices in my own life. My parents gave me every opportunity to succeed and a sterling example of what it takes [to do so].

I attended Denver Public Schools throughout Denver during the era of court-ordered desegregation.    Beginning in my junior year in high school, I participated in the non-profit public health care organization Amigos de las Americas, traveling to Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Honduras to provide a variety of health care services in rural Latin America.

I started my collegiate studies at Metropolitan State College, paying for it by working part-time. Back then, tuition for a full load semester was about $250 and the minimum wage was $1.20. I graduated from Metropolitan State College in 1981 with a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Marketing. After a couple of years working I took my savings, applied for a student loan, and headed for Glendale, Arizona where I had been accepted to the American Graduate School of International Management (now the Thunderbird School of Global Management). In addition to taking out loans and relying upon my savings, I held a part-time job at Thunderbird Samaritan Hospital. I graduated from Thunderbird in 1985 with a Master’s degree in International Management.  Even though the loan was modest and reasonable, I quickly discovered that I had to secure a “good,” well-paying job.  I finally finished paying off my student loan six years after graduation.  My loan was very modest by today's standards and the interest rate was guaranteed and reasonable.

CCJ: What are you running for, and why are you running for office now? 

KB: I am running the United States House of Representatives CO-5.  It is one of the most Conservative Districts in the Country.  Since this District was created (due to population growth) 38 years ago, it has been held by Republicans.

CCJ: How are you raising awareness about your campaign? How can volunteers help you win this forthcoming election?

KB:  I am running for this office with the firm conviction that apathy and ignorance are the real enemies of democracy. The view that government is “them” not “us” is a real threat to the future of our Republic [my emphasis].

I travel this Congressional district every day, trying to visit every corner of it, and let people know that I am an alternative to the incumbent.  The internet is a most amazing tool. It is a tool that is available, at very low cost, throughout the world.  It is a 24/7 learning space with the power to level what is otherwise a very uneven playing field. Print media then broadcast media provided the public with a better understanding of the issues facing individual communities and ultimately the nation and world.  The internet has dramatically broadened that capability.  Discovering how to utilize this medium to reinforce the message that government is us and we can build a society that reflects the values that we have is the challenge of this campaign. I seek to advance my belief that people need to stand up for their beliefs, to be the change that they want to see in the world.  Volunteers can help by engaging in the causes and issues that they have, balancing the interests that seek to monopolize understanding for monetary gain.

CCJ: What are your top concerns for the state of Colorado? How do you intend to help residents there?

KB: My principle concerns Colorado and America are protecting the environment, creating sustainable communities that value production as well as consumption, promoting diversity and stability, and freeing individuals to act in our long-term, best, interests.  Providing universal, affordable, and relevant education is at the heart of our future.

Realistically, I hope to help residents by providing an example.  Practically, I am a conduit for people and  information, trying to connect problems with solutions and people with one another.  Ideally, [I am a model]: providing an open mind and a wealth of experience to the very real challenges ahead.

CCJ: Why did you become interested in running for public office? 

KB:  I believe that registering to vote, voting, and running for office are the most patriotic activities that we can engage in as Americans.  I have long promoted this belief.  The strongest statement that I can make, is to take constructive action.  I was granted a rare opportunity and privilege.  I am trying to discover ways to learn for this experience and pass that effort on to others.

CCJ: Please tell us two model Americans whom you admire. Why do you admire them?

KB: Martin Luther King Jr., because knew injustice and tried to right it. His conviction to non-violence is one that I also share. His understanding of the fact that he might not see the end result of his efforts and trod the path with conviction is something that I aspire to.
Thomas Jefferson, you have to love a gardener, with a thirst for knowledge.

CCJ: Are you aware of the student lending crisis? Do you know that 1 in 3 student loans are now in default (those are statistics gathered from the U.S. Dept. of Education, and they only track loans for 2 years)? What are your thoughts on this matter?
KB: You have made me more aware of this crisis.  I believe that the Obama Administration and the Congress  made a critical first step in removing the “middlemen” banks from the lending environment.  We must find a way to assure that quality education is affordable to all. It must also be appropriate, truly addressing the needs and abilities of the student and society. 

CCJ: Thanks so much, Kevin, for the interview. We are eager to see you win this important seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 




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