Photo courtesy of Frank Brocato
Frank Brocato Feb 2016
Retired Hoover Fire Marshal Frank Brocato is running for mayor of Hoover, Ala.
Frank Brocato, a longtime Hoover resident who served 42 years with the Hoover Fire Department before retiring a year ago, today announced he is running for mayor of the city.
Brocato, 63, was the city’s first paramedic and first fire marshal. He said three of Hoover’s past mayors came out of the Fire Department and he has had the spark in him for most of his career.
He almost ran for mayor four years ago, but the timing was not right for his family, Brocato said. With his retirement just a year ago, this year is the perfect time, he said.
“I’ve always loved Hoover. I’ve raised my family here,” Brocato said. “I’ve always seen myself as an ambassador for the city. Everywhere I went all over the country at different trade shows, meeting with other firefighters, I loved to talk about Hoover and what we were doing here.”
He said he wants to be mayor because everything that determines the quality of life in the city starts in the mayor’s office — the direction of the city, the vision, the planning.
“He’s the leader. He’s the one that should be setting goals, should be surrounding himself with outstanding leaders,” Brocato said.
One issue on the forefront of many Hoover residents’ minds right now is public safety, and “my commitment to public safety will never be compromised,” Brocato said. “I think our city was built on providing a great public safety program.”
Increasing funding for Hoover City Schools
Another goal would be to provide better support of the city’s school system, he said.
“We have got to look at our school system as part of our team,” Brocato said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the most critical components that affects our quality of life.”
A strong school system helps property values increase, helps attract quality businesses and helps create vibrant and safer neighborhoods, Brocato told more than 100 people who gathered this morning at the Capers on Park Avenue cafe in Bluff Park for his announcement.
Photo by Jon Anderson
Frank Brocato 2-15-16
Retired Hoover Fire Marshal Frank Brocato announces he is running for mayor of the city of Hoover at the Capers on Park Avenue cafe at the Artists on the Bluff facility in Hoover, Ala., on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.
“Our school system is running a deficit every year and having to draw from their reserves,” Brocato said. “My fear is that if the school system begins to suffer, I believe it has just a domino effect,” causing property values and businesses to suffer. “I don’t think this city wants to see that happen.”
Brocato said he wants to provide more financial support for the school system, but “nobody knows exactly what that number is.”
As mayor, he would sit down with school officials, look at the city’s budget and the school system’s budget closely and try to reach a consensus of how much more money the city can give the schools.
“Surely smart people can get together and figure it out,” he said.
Some people are calling for a tax increase for schools, but Brocato said that should be a last resort. He first wants to see what can be done with existing revenues, he said.
Brocato said city leaders also need to develop a master plan.
“I don’t see master planning as something that boxes us in,” he said. “I think it gives us direction in how we would like our city to develop in the next 10 to 20 years.”
The master planning process should involve city department heads, the city planner, landowners and neighborhoods, he said. City leaders need to identify vulnerable pieces of land with incorrect zoning that could negatively impact neighborhoods and figure out what zoning is appropriate, he said.
The city should never had been blindsided by U.S. Steel’s plan to develop 820 apartments along Interstate 459 between Preserve Parkway and Chapel Lane because the city has known that land was zoned for apartments for 30 years, Brocato said.
“Had we been proactive, I don’t think it ever would have come up, and we wouldn’t be fighting this issue right now,” he said.
If the city had worked with the landowners to come up with a more suitable development plan, the city wouldn’t now be trying to rezone their land without their consent, he said.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Brocato said. “It’s easy to be against that development, and it’s easy to be against large landowners, but we all have property rights. We all own our own property, and we want to enjoy our property. On the flip side, we want to be good citizens and contribute to our community” and not do things that will negatively impact the community.
Brocato said he would like to develop a plan to create more of a city center in Hoover — something that people would consider a downtown area with a quality fine arts center.
“The Hoover Public Library does an outstanding job in a small auditorium,” he said. “If we built something like that and expanded on it, I think it would be a huge success.”
People in Hoover need somewhere in the city where they can go to see a Broadway-type play or a performance by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, he said.
Brocato, who went through both Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Shelby County and now serves on an advisory council for Leadership Birmingham, said he would like to start a Leadership Hoover organization that brings together some of the best leaders in the city.
“That’s what make the city of Hoover a great place to live — the people who live here, not the politicians,” he said.
Brocato grew up in Birmingham’s Southside. After marrying his grammar school sweetheart, Frances, they moved to Vestavia Hills for a year and then moved into an apartment in Hoover in 1973. A few years later, they bought their first home in Irondale but moved back to Hoover in 1979. They have lived in the Loch Ridge, Riverchase and Greystone communities and about four years ago moved to the James Hill section of Ross Bridge to be closer to two of their three children and six of their nine grandchildren.
Brocato joined the Hoover Fire Department as a volunteer in March 1973 and soon thereafter was hired for a paid position. Former Chief Ralph Shepherd sent him to paramedic school, and he became Hoover's first paramedic. He was hired as a full-time member of the department in 1975.
In 1979, former Chief Tom Bradley named Brocato the city's first fire marshal. He served in that role for three years until being promoted and named captain over a new fire station in Riverchase.
Brocato obtained his associate’s degree in fire science from Jefferson State Community College and later a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Birmingham-Southern College in 1982 at the age of 30.
In 1985, Brocato was named a battalion chief and made head of the department's emergency medical services. He served in that role for 24 years until 2009, when new Chief Chuck Wingate asked him to reprise his role as fire marshal and chief of operations, a position he held until his retirement last year.
Brocato for many years represented the city of Hoover with the United Way. He served many years on the medical direction committee for the Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System and on state committees dealing with EMS issues. He currently is on the board of directors for the Literacy Council of Central Alabama.
Current Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey has announced he is running for re-election. They are the only two candidates who have announced publicly that they are running for mayor so far. The election is Aug. 23. Official qualifying takes place in July.