Michael Harper will rely upon his background as a fire fighter and administrator for the Grayson Fire Department, along with an independent point of view, if elected as a write-in candidate for Grayson City Council – a board with only five official candidates and six open seats.
Harper said he was introduced to Grayson as a student at Kentucky Christian University where he studied elementary education from 1999 to 2003. Before earning that degree, he returned to his home in southeastern Ohio to help with family matters, and experienced the loss of his mother.
While there, Harper joined a volunteer fire department. “I had the bug,” he said with a smile.
He moved back to Grayson to resume his studies, but ultimately concluded “School was not for me.” He had already looked into the Grayson Volunteer Fire Department before he even left home.
When he visited, he found members cleaning up for the annual Christmas dinner and was signed up for duty after the new year in 2006. He initially earned the nickname “Buckeye” although he’s been here so long now he says few of the younger guys even know the reference.
He has worked his way up the ranks and now serves as a Captain with duties including payroll and staff scheduling. Harper is also a certified fire training instructor and provided CPR training to the county’s Little League coaches after a local youth collapsed on the baseball field.
Family & Fun
Harper, 39, and his wife, BobbiJo, are parents of an 11 year old son and a seven year old daughter. The family dog is a loving “pit terrier mix” named Roxie. Harper works as a tank farm operator at Marathon.
When he isn’t working, Harper said time with family is at the top of his list.
“I’m a family man. I like spending time with my kids,” he said, adding he also enjoys bass fishing at Grayson Lake.
Harper unsuccessfully ran for a city council seat “eight or ten years ago” and has often worked closely with the city’s elected officials and employees as a spokesman for the city’s fire department, such as when he worked with council members to obtain new air packs for fire fighters.
“I saw a need. I’m just trying to fill a need,” Harper said of the open spot on the ballot where he hopes supporters will write in his name.
“I think I have an ability to listen and do what’s best for the city. I’m not looking to go in there and make a lot of big policy changes. Just to help, basically – be a boots on the ground public servant. I’m used to the hard work.”
“I’m not going in as anybody’s puppet. I will get various input on everything and form my own decisions,” Harper said, noting he has seen issues come before the city council with no opportunity to research or discuss the situation.
“Snap decisions are not good,” he said, citing emergency situations as an obvious exception. “In the end, you are representing the citizens of Grayson.”
“I’m not going in with the idea of changing anything. I just want to be a voice for the community. I was not born and raised here, but I’ve lived here for 15 years on the west side of town.
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Story & Photo by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post