Brad Stanton might not be a household name throughout the City of Delaware, but that doesn’t make his impact on the city and its residents over the past three decades less important. If anything, the fact his name doesn’t ring a bell with most residents means he did his job well.
After 32 years with the city’s Public Utilities Department, Stanton retired as director on Wednesday, leaving behind a well-oiled machine that he had more than just a hand in developing.
“Brad has clearly left the community in better shape than when he started,” City Manager R. Thomas Homan said. “We are a better community because of his leadership.”
Public Affairs Coordinator Lee Yoakum, who worked closely with Stanton to keep residents informed of utility emergencies, etc., said no matter the situation, Stanton always remained cool, calm, and collected. It’s those characteristics that earned him the nickname “Steady Stanton.”
Stanton, however, will tell anyone who listens that his department was never about one individual taking the credit for an achievement or the fall for a hiccup. Instead, it was all about the team, which did its job under the radar.
“I really feel the public utilities department staff doesn’t get as much credit as they probably deserve because a lot of what we do is behind the scenes,” he said. “The majority of our infrastructure (water, sewer, and stormwater) is underground, and it’s only an issue when it doesn’t work.”
Stanton’s three-decade-plus stint with the city began in 1986 when he was hired as wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operator. At the time, the city’s population hovered around 20,000.
As the city’s population increased over the years to the brink of eclipsing the 40,000 mark, so did Stanton’s role within the public utilities department. In 1998, he was promoted to WWTP superintendent before being named deputy director in 2002. Stanton’s rise to the top of the department reached the pinnacle in 2007 when he was named public utilities director.
“Since I moved here, we’ve doubled in population,” Stanton said. “It’s just been very interesting to see the growth of the city and how the city has planned for that growth.”
He said from day one, City Council and administration have always had the residents’ best interests at heart, which made his job easier.
“It’s been very rewarding working for a city that provides the necessary means and staff to provide the level of service that is needed,” Stanton said. “We weren’t always the first ones to do a new type of treatment, but we made sure we stayed ahead of any regulatory issues. We also always made sure we provided the safest, most cost-effective treatment options out there.”
When Stanton made the decision in 1986 to leave the Cleveland area for a job in Delaware, he never imagined it would turn into a lengthy career and the place where he would end up raising his three children. Neither did his family.
“When I told my family I was moving from an engineering firm to work at a wastewater plant, they thought I was crazy,” Stanton recalled. “I never thought I’d be here 32 years, but it’s been such a great career that I couldn’t imagine having done anything else. It has also been a great place to raise a family.”
As for his decision to retire from the city, Stanton said with the department scheduled to take on a new project soon, the timing was right to pass the position on to a new director.
“Everything that I wanted to accomplish during my tenure as director has been accomplished, so I feel really comfortable with the state of the utilities department,” he said. “I’m leaving it it good hands with Blake (Jordan) and our existing staff, who are very experienced and well-versed in running the utilities department.”
While he will no longer be employed by the city, Stanton isn’t planning to sit back and relax for too long.
“I do plan on getting back to work here in a couple of months for another organization,” he said.
Until then, Stanton plans to spend time with his grandchildren, travel, and enjoy America’s pastime.
“I’m taking a trip to Arizona in March to attend Cleveland Indians spring training games,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and the timing is right to do it.”
While Stanton has had a hand in his fair share of projects over the past three decades — including the likes of the WWTP expansion project, installation of the 24-inch water transmission main along U.S. Route 23, and the implementation of advanced metering infrastructure (new water meters) — one stands out more than the others.
“I’m most proud of the water treatment plant (upgrade and expansion),” he said. “It was a longtime coming, and I couldn’t be more happier with the outcome of that plant in terms of the treatment that it provides and the confidence in the staff who operate the plant on a daily basis.
“It’s the largest capital expenditure the city has made to date, which shows the commitment that the city council has in providing Delaware residents with the best that water treatment can provide.”
Homan said the revamped water treatment plant has provided the city with an “innovative approach to water treatment.”
“It was a complicated project, and Brad provided a lot of the expertise and vision in terms of how the water plant would operate,” Homan said.
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.