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Escambia County school board candidate Willie Kirkland, Jr. says he’s not running for the paycheck, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

At a recent candidate forum, Kirkland pledged that if he’s elected, he’ll donate his first year’s salary — about $37,000 — back to the community. He’s got a few ideas about how to use the money — a park, perhaps, or maybe a mentoring program — but Kirkland says he’d want his constituents to help make the decision.

A native of Escambia County, Kirkland’s humble and unassuming manner belies his success in the business world. “My father, Willie Kirkland, Sr. sharecropped with a mule as a child before he took on brick masonry as a trade,” said Kirkland. “He established W.C. Kirkland Masonry, which still exists 42 years later.”

After graduating from Washington High School, Kirkland went to work as a dump truck driver. Working for Archer Western Contractors, Kirkland was promoted to truck foreman and became one of the company’s top foremen in the region. When Archer Western left Pensacola, Kirkland chose to stay behind and keep his family in Escambia County.

In 2006, Kirkland went into business for himself, buying a single dump truck and forming W.C. Kirkland Trucking. Ten years later, W.C. Kirkland Trucking, Inc. is a million-dollar company, working with contractors like The Nova Group on Hurlburt Field, Phillips & Jordan on Navy Federal’s Heritage Oaks campus, and more.

“The success of my business has allowed me to volunteer and generously give back to children in my community,” Kirkland said, noting that he’s spent the past two years preparing his company to be self-sufficient so that he can focus on serving on the School Board.

“I just want to make a difference,” said Kirkland.

 

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