As a sheriff’s deputy, a member of the Clinton-Sampson Rescue Squad and a leader in the annual Relay For Life event, Jerry Bradshaw has been a servant of the people of Sampson County for years. He wants that to continue.
Bradshaw, a Democrat, is one of many who have expressed interest in the Clerk of Superior Court post and he will be officially filing for the office at the Sampson County Board of Elections later this month.
“I started getting some phone calls after Norman Wayne said he was retiring, asking if I would consider running,” Bradshaw said in a telephone interview with The Sampson Independent. “I thought about it for a few months, and wanted to get my retirement from the Sheriff’s Office in order, and now here we are.”
Republican Dwight Williams Jr. swore the oath as Clerk of Court on Wednesday and will fill former clerk Norman Wayne Naylor’s unexpired term, which ends November 2018. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Albert D. Kirby Jr. announced his decision to appoint Williams following interviews with seven candidates over recent weeks. Bradshaw was one of them.
“I’ve served people all my life,” said Bradshaw. “This is another way of serving the people of Sampson County.”
Bradshaw worked full time for the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office from April 2001 to December 2017, ending as sergeant over the civil/child support unit, a position he held for a decade since the retirement of Capt. Jimmy Jones in 2007.
Even before he was full-time, he worked in an auxiliary capacity under three different sheriffs, including Buck McCullen, Cranford Fann and Graham Butler. He did that while working first as a chief accountant at Sampson County Memorial Hospital from 1973-81, then with Carr-Boyette Insurance Agency for the next 20 years, from 1981-2001.
Bradshaw came in as a road deputy in 2001 as McCullen was wrapping up his tenure and continued in the criminal division until 2005 under his fourth sheriff, Jimmy Thornton. Then he moved on to the civil division, where his dealings on court matters became an everyday task.
”Whatever came from the courthouse, we dealt with it,” said Bradshaw. He sees the possibility of being Clerk of Court as befitting his accrued knowledge of the courts through his dealings with civil and child support papers.
A Clinton High School graduate, Bradshaw attained his associate degree in accounting from Mount Olive Junior College in 1969 before going on to earn his bachelor’s in accounting from Atlantic Christian (now Barton College) in 1973. When he got back from school that year, he began working at the hospital and as an auxiliary officer with the Sheriff’s Office, while also becoming a member of the Clinton-Sampson Rescue Squad. He is now a lifetime member of the squad (serving well in excess of the 15 years that earns that distinction).
“I’ve been active that whole time,” said Bradshaw. “I’ve not gone inactive. Some lifetime members stay on the roster, but don’t remain active when they get lifetime status. We’re not running a lot of the calls we used to run, but we do a lot of standby, Relay for Life, Fourth of July and those kind of events, so paramedic level can stay on the road and provide service.”
A cancer survivor himself, Bradshaw has also been one of the faces of the Relay for Life movement in Sampson, his involvement dating back to its inception locally. Bradshaw was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and has missed just one of the local Relay events over the years, that absence due to a followup appointment at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Oklahoma.
Bradshaw is married to wife, Toni. They have two daughters, Kelly and Jennifer, as well as four grandsons, ranging in age from 2 to 16 years old. He is a member of Miller’s Chapel PFWB Church in the Faison area, where he likes to tell people he has been attending since 9 months before he was born, as his parents Jim and Esther Bradshaw were also members.
“I’ve been there my whole life,” said Bradshaw, who has served his church as a Sunday School teacher, usher and youth leader.
He said he enjoys serving, and wants to extend a life of service in the Clerk of Court capacity.
“I appreciate the people allowing me to serve all these years in law enforcement and with rescue. I’ve been a servant of the people and I’ve always tried to treat people the way I wanted to be treated,” said Bradshaw, noting he would bring that same mentality to the Clerk’s post. “With the people’s help, with their prayers and by the grace of God, we can do it.”
Bradshaw recalled many years ago, when he was just 21, seeing an ambulance drive past his house on the way to a call.
“Those guys are being mighty slow,” Bradshaw recalled his younger self saying. Jim Bradshaw chided his son’s judgmental tone. “Rather than criticize, why don’t you see what you can do to help out?” he told young Jerry.
That mantra has stuck with him ever since.
“From that point on, I’ve always tried to use that attitude,” said Bradshaw. “I’m not criticizing anything about the Clerk of Court’s office. Until you’re in those shoes, you don’t know exactly what they’re dealing with. I’m taking a positive attitude into it. There is a talented staff there with knowledge that you can build off, and I think I can bring some knowledge and managerial experience to that position.”
The filing period at the Sampson Board of Elections extends from noon Feb. 12 to noon Feb. 28.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.