Mayor Rob Keffer has two passions: farming and politics. While the two career paths are drastically different, he says his farming background has helped him with his current role as mayor for Bradford.
“It’s hard work,” he admitted. But “it keeps my feet on the ground."
Managing both a dairy farm and mayoral duties is a balancing act, but “it seems to be working out alright,” he said.
Waking up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to feed and milk the cows with his youngest son, Matthew, is not something many mayors can say they do.
Keffer grew up in BWG and works on his family farm on the 5th Line in between Highways 400 and 27.
He attended the University of Guelph to study agriculture and married his high school sweetheart, Jean, whose parents also owned a farm.
Both their parents were also members of council, “but not at the same time,” he added.
Together he and Jean have three children, Philip, Nicole and Matthew.
Matthew works on the family farm, while Philip is currently teaching in Australia and Nicole works for an online agricultural business.
Matthew is an avid cyclist and Nicole trains in physically demanding and intense, spartan races.
“I don’t know where they get their athleticism from,” he joked about his kids and their sport hobbies.
Keffer has worked in many volunteer roles throughout his life, focusing specifically on protecting the environment.
2010 is when Keffer got his start in town politics. He ran for deputy mayor and won, then in 2014, decided to take it up a notch and went for mayor- and won again! He was re-elected as mayor in 2018 and has another three years left in the term.
Keffer says what really motivated him to get involved with council was his concerns over the development coming into town. He wanted to make sure the farmlands were maintained.
“I was worried about the loss of farmland and the change that would rapidly occur if that much growth happened at once,” he explained.
Through campaigning, he was able to learn more about the residents of Bradford and their needs and wants for the community.
“I enjoyed the campaigning and talking to people. It’s very busy, you’re out knocking on doors, but it’s the way to find out what’s on the minds of people in town,” he said.
He noted the blend of both rural and suburban living makes Bradford a desirable area to live.
“The one thing that impresses me is that Bradford has nice areas and nice communities,” he said.
While all members of council have a specific ward to look after, Keffer oversees them all. He says his team has been great to work with and enjoys getting out in the community and enjoying all it has to offer.
One of his biggest accomplishments so far on council has been the recent approval for the new Highway 400-404 link, which was just announced last month.
Under his leadership, Bradford has seen many improvements and advancements to the town including new senior homes, the leisure centre, Henderson Park, and road developments like Marshview Road.
Keffer keeps busy on the farm but always takes the time to attend at all grand openings, flag raisings, and town events.
“You’re a public face to the community and the province,” he said.
“It’s a great way for us (council) to get out in the community.”
With three years left of his term, he says he will see about running again but for now is enjoying his time and says it has been a rewarding job so far.
“It’s a very interesting position and one that’s rewarding,” he said.
“You can make a difference with how the town grows.”
In terms of Bradford’s future, he says he hopes to maintain its “small town flavour” and keep it a neighbourly community, with everyone helping one another.