Jim Bradley has never been satisfied with a secure job and a predictable future.
He once worked for eight years in Salt Lake County's alcohol and drug division before he realized how secure he was getting.Suddenly he was scared to death, he said.
"I realized they would send my paycheck whether I was productive or not. I didn't want to do that the rest of my life," he said.
Bradley quit without having another job, causing some concern within his family. Things have turned out all right in the ensuing eight years, but now he says he is ready for a change again.
Bradley, a 41-year-old father of two who has spent most of his life in various government jobs, is the Democrats' choice to challenge Republican County Commissioner Mike Stewart for his four-year seat.
Personable and soft-spoken, Bradley does not always agree with the things fellow Demo
rats decide to use as issues in county government.
He used to wince whenever he heard Democrats criticize the extravagance of the paintings and sculptures in the new Salt Lake County Government Center.
The Republican-dominated County Commission authorized more than $250,000 for the art and Democrats have used that as an example of how public money is being misspent. But Bradley believes art serves a purpose.
"The Salt Lake County complex is one of the best galleries in the state," he said. "Without art and what it stands for, no civilization moves forward. Art is the major force behind civilization."
Bradley, who was born and spent most of his young life on the unincorporated east side of Salt Lake County, owes much of his appreciation for the finer things to his parents, both educators. Part of his childhood was spent running through the halls of Westminster College, where the Bradleys were dorm parents for a short time.
His background also helped him learn how to handle jobs in unfamiliar fields, picking up skills as he went.
"I learned how to write," he said, noting that communication skills are vital to any job and that information about most fields can be learned from books.
Bradley holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Utah and has held jobs as state energy director under former Gov. Scott M. Matheson, financial analyst for the county, program developer for the county's alcohol and drug division and a private consultant.
While working with the county's alcohol and drug division, he said, he developed a successful teenage alcohol school for troubled youths and their parents - a five-week course where teenagers would talk about their problems in groups with parents other than their own.
Learning about a new job, he said, is the easy part. The difficult part comes when ideas and thoughts need to be communicated. That is a skill about which Bradley feels confident.
"If you can write, you can learn the facts and issues and get by," he said. He also believes in surrounding himself with people he considers to know more than he does.
"I have always hired people brighter than I am. I have to do that. When you've got people like that, you are ahead on all issues and know you are doing the right thing," he said.
If he becomes a commissioner, Bradley wants to hire an assistant who is more analytical than political.
"I want someone who can bring in a new idea - someone who reads," he said.
Within a year after he quit his job with Salt Lake County, Bradley was working for the state energy department. One year later, he was promoted to director. He was doing what he enjoys most - administering.
"I enjoy management," he said. "I enjoy getting people to be productive and feeling good about what they're doing."
But that job ended when Gov. Norm Bangerter was elected. Bradley went to work as a consultant, entering the private work force for the first time. He wanted to run for commission in 1986, but felt he wasn't ready to handle defeat if things went wrong. He feels he is more confident now.
"I probably could have gone back to the state, but I just couldn't do that," he said. "I had to make a decision in terms of what I was going to do. I looked at what I've enjoyed most over the last 20 years and that was managing and the political parts of the jobs.
"I'm not a grandstander. I get embarrassed by too much attention. I want to serve, not to make a lifetime job out of it."