Medford’s next mayor? After serving as police chief, Randy Sparacino looks to return for a second act
Last year, Randy Sparacino retired after nearly 30 years with the Medford Police Department, including serving as its chief. Apparently retirement wasn’t the right fit, as Sparacino is attempting to step back into public life, as he is campaigning to be Medford’s next mayor, a seat being vacated after 16 years with the same incumbent.
Rogue Valley Messenger: Stepping into the mayor’s role right now seems like a very daunting task. It seems like there is more opportunity for blame than for fame. After retiring a year ago, why step back into a public job now?
Randy Sparacino: I served the City of Medford for 30 years and I am proud of that service and what I was able to accomplish during that time. I love the City of Medford. The City has provided for me and my family and want to give back to Medford and see Medford become one of the best places to live, work, and play. I dedicated most of my adult life protecting and serving it. I have seen the great things we have accomplished as a city over that time, but I also recognize there are still some great challenges in front of us as well as some great opportunities. I think I have the right experience and the right skills at the right time to take bothon.
RVM: Can you provide a brief economic forecast for Medford—and one or two policies that you would want to first implement?
RS: I believe that we are in for a period of time with a tighter economy but can have a robust return to better economic times similar to those we had prior to the pandemic. The mayor and council’s abilities are defined by the charter of the city of Medford. It is the council specifically that sets policies and not the mayor. As Mayor, I would advocate for the council to establish policies that are business friendly to ensure a robust economic recovery. I would also do all I can to attract and retain businesses on behalf of Medford and I would work closely with the Medford School District, RCC and SOU to support training of highly skilledworkers.
RVM: What is it like campaigning during COVID?
RS: COVID has definitely changed what I imagined campaigning would be. Not being a career politician, I am not as familiar with traditional campaigning. I believe it is extremely important during a campaign to take into consideration the health and welfare of your constituents. I imagine this campaign will have far fewer personal contacts than a regular election season. By nature, I am a problem solver. These times are challenging, and leaders must find ways forward. I will be finding new ways in which to reach voters so that I can hear their concerns and share with them my vision for the future.
RVM: With so much interest in city police departments, what is your assessment for a priority to change?
RS: I believe police organizations should be learning organizations and constantly improving. The Medford Police Department has been such an organization since it was accredited back in the early 2000’s originally by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and subsequently by the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. Accreditation ensures that organizations are following best practices in their field. Oregon as a state has been at the forefront on police oversight and the Medford Police Department has been included in that oversight. Additionally, the Medford Police Department has sought to include public input in promotional processes and initial hiring as well as having input from the Police Advisory Committee. The department was one of the first in the state with body-worn cameras. As Chief, I implemented an Ethics and Leadership program that has greatly enhanced the department as a whole. The department ensures that their policies are frequently updated to ensure they are meeting current standards and case law. One of the great strengths of the Medford Police Department has always been their willingness to listen, learn and grow. As chief, I believed that it was important to bring diverse groups together for the common goal of improving our city. I will continue to do that as Mayor. I will work hard to serve the interests of the entire community. I will listen to all sides to make the best decisions for the betterment of Medford.
RVM: Can you pay a compliment to your opponents?
RS: My opponents have both demonstrated passion for issues that they support as council members. While I certainly have different views than the two of them, from my time with the City, I realize how much time and work is involved in being a volunteer council member and I believe they deserve to be commended for their commitment as council members.
RVM: And what sets you most apart from your opponents?
RS: I am not a politician, but I am a problem solver. I have a unique set of qualifications that makes me a very well-rounded candidate. I have been in the military, was a partner in a small business and had a career that started as a volunteer for the Medford Police Department and ended 30 years later as the leader of the department. During that time, I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I have experience as a member of a government organization as well as a committee member making budgetary decisions for a city and as a member of an elected board. So, I understand all sides of running a government organization. I have been directly responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget and making personnel decisions for that department. It is this level of experience that sets me apart from my opponents. My 30 years of public service, valuable leadership experience, active community involvement, and commitment to Medford uniquely qualify me to lead as Mayor.