My involvement in the City of Bowie is inspired by my desire to create a City that I want to live in and raise my children in for the next 20 years. My involvement in City affairs dates back to 2011 when I joined the Bowie Finance Committee, where I spent 5 years. In 2014 I took a leadership role in my Home Owner's Association (HOA) and served on the board as Secretary and then as President. I left the HOA in 2017 to create a new group in the City that I identified as a needed area of improvement - the Multi-modal Access and Public Spaces (MAPS) citizen's advisory committee. To date, this group has been very successful in advising City staff and the Council on infrastructure and smart development projects and policies. This effort blossomed into an online based advocacy group in 2018, known as, www.bowieconnect.org. My latest involvement, and perhaps my most exciting, involves the start of an overwhelming initiative to revitalize our aging Old Town to make it a vibrant and active Arts & Entertainment District - The Old BAE District.
I've been actively engaged and committed to enhancing the quality of life in Bowie for the past 8 years, and would love the honor of continuing this service to the City, yet in an official capacity, for at least 8 more.
There's no shortage of my involvement - please check out some of my testimonies to the City Council below.
The area of our city that started it all, Old Bowie, is rich in history and holds many stories, but its been slowly fading and crumbling and will soon be forgotten if we don't take action. Old Town Bowie holds inspiring stories of a once small town America, as well as, some of the first stories of education, freedom and community for African Americans in this country. The town is in desperate need of investment, yet despite countless efforts to do so over the past few decades, none has been successful. Revitalization of this area, while keeping its historical and cultural beauty in tact, will require a movement. What better way to convey this movement than through the Arts and Music. I believe we can revitalize our historic Old Town area and create a vibrant small town that is rich in culture and history. I believe we can create a place that celebrates the arts and music and celebrates the birth of the City alongside African American heritage. I believe we can create a place that retains the historic architecture and small town feel, but is recognized, honored and celebrated, not just by our citizens, but by the entire nation.
In 2016, I worked with the Bowie Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) to analyze on-going and future trends in the Bowie budget and advocated for action on fiscal responsibility, to avoid fiscal complications like the one we are in today with the Ice Arena. We asked the City Council to take 4 actions:
1) Develop a mechanism to evaluate the value of large projects compared to their costs to better understand if its worth spending tax payer money on them;
2) Develop strategies to increase and/or enhance the City's ability to benefit from external grant revenue;
3) Analyze and understand the implications of the fastest growing operational budget item, the Police Department, to ensure long-term financial security;
4) Analyze and understand the implications of the aging water system and the increasing taxes used to pay for it, to ensure this system is financial sustainable in the long term.
To my awareness, to date, none of these items have been implemented. I still believe these are important aspects of fiscal responsibility that the City should focus on, and plan to implement these if elected.
Development is a complex and often controversial issue. Traditionally development is the friend of politicians because it generates economic development and draws a larger tax base. Often politicians work closely with developments to ensure projects move forward. In recent times, we've realized that our City is growing into something we don't want to see. It's growing to fast and the implications of development are impacting the quality of life of our residents. Many of our leaders, particular those that have been in office for a long time, have grown accustomed to facilitating development so much, that they are letting developers get away with building without holding them accountable for the impacts they have on our existing community. I have demonstrated a track record of speaking out in favor of increased regulations and more harsh negotiations on developers, and will continue to do so if elected.