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Sgt. Mark Medford said he discovered a way to connect with schools, lead people toward good choices and contribute to the wider community when he became the York County coordinator of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E., in 1990.
“It’s just what I do. It’s my passion. It’s what gets me up in the morning and gets me out the door to work, to know I’m making a difference in children’s lives,” Medford said.
He said he hopes to continue to have this kind of influence in another capacity – as the District 3 representative on the York County School Board, a position he has held since 2000.
“I still have the burning fire in my belly to continue to serve children. It’s been my career. It’s in my blood,” Medford said. “There’s no burnout with me. There is zero burnout with what I do.”
Medford, 51, is a native of York County and said he chose a career that would allow him to stay in the county. As a deputy for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, Medford works as an administrative sergeant and the D.A.R.E. coordinator. He was recently appointed the Virginia state D.A.R.E. coordinator, a position that allows him to provide assistance to D.A.R.E. programs throughout the state.
He said he knew early in his law enforcement career he wanted to focus on crime prevention and community policing. Medford said his experience interacting with students and working with teachers when he presented D.A.R.E. put him in a unique position to run for school board and saw the position as an opportunity to contribute more.
Medford, who most recently served as chairman of the board, has run unopposed in every general election until now. This year he faces challenger Julie Reichle for the District 3 seat.
He said one of his most important accomplishments on the board was bringing forward research, best practices and programming for a behavioral management manual for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
Medford said efforts at the beginning of the fiscal 2016 budget cycle to improve the relationship between the school board and the Board of Supervisors, which at times has been contentious, have already paid off.
“In one year we built a very sturdy bridge back with our Board of Supervisors. The relationship reconnected,” Medford said. “Having resistance between the boards serves no purpose.”
If re-elected, Medford said his priorities would include advocating for funding from the state and the federal government and improving compensation for school division employees, the latter being an issue the school board and Board of Supervisors both identified as a common goal.
He said the school board has found creative ways to compensate employees as the county recovered from the recession, such as one-time payments and covering some healthcare costs.
“We wanted to make sure we kept sending the message to our employees that compensation mattered. They mattered. They’re the reason why we’re successful as a school division,” Medford said.
Medford said he sees the school board as a civic service and, if re-elected, aspires to remain accessible and approachable.
“I have a proven track record of successes. The confidence of the community? Proven. My career? What I do? Proven,” Medford said. “It’s what I truly believe in. It’s about the students. It’s about the kids. It’s about our schools and giving back to my community, and I hope the voters allow me to continue that.”