BOWIE – With city elections drawing closer, the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of having a “Meet and Greet” for residents to meet the city candidates and have a one-on-one conversation with each of the contenders. The event was held last Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Bowie Center for the […]
BOWIE – With city elections drawing closer, the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of having a “Meet and Greet” for residents to meet the city candidates and have a one-on-one conversation with each of the contenders.
The event was held last Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce allowed each candidate to speak on a microphone for 60 seconds about why residents should vote for him or her to represent their district, with no question and answer period.
“We found that throughout the city, this is one of the only events that brings all of the candidates together, but the chamber thought this would be a new unique way to do it instead of doing it on the stage. An actual debate would have been tough because only two questions might get answered and there’s so many candidates,” said Executive Director of the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce David Emanuel.
The event allowed residents to meet all of the candidates running for office, up close and personal. Although there was no question and answer period, all guests were encouraged to stop in and meet and question the candidates at tables set up throughout the lobby and recital hall.
“It’s like another convention and it is great to see a lot of the folks coming out for this. We have always hosted debates throughout the year, but we didn’t want to get too political. We just let the people come out and meet them,” Emanuel said.
Many of the residents said they enjoyed the event because it was a lot more personal.
“I was very impressed by the event. They had everything set up in a nice way where everybody could get around,” said Bowie resident Cathy Taylor. “I thought the idea of keeping them limited to 60 seconds kept them focused so we got what we needed to hear.”
Mayor G. Frederick Robinson, who is running for reelection this year, enjoyed the opportunity to “meet the good people of Bowie and have exchanges with the other candidates.” Robinson approved of how the event was organized and preferred to have a meet and greet as opposed to sitting down and having a question and answer segment.
“This is kind of more free folk conversation. If they want to start a conversation and divert into to something else, they can,” Robinson said. “I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback about the event. One lady even said she’s old school and ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ in reference to this year being my 17th year in office as mayor.”
Residents also had the opportunity to meet new candidates who have sparked interest amongst residents in the community. Candidate Craig M. Muckle (District 4) is running against current District Councilmember Isaac Trouth. Monica Best-James (District 1) is running against three other candidates, including Michael Esteve and Jenmaire Dewberry.
Muckle believes his background in government affairs and public relations makes him the best candidate. He spent 18 years representing Safeway in the community and solving problems that would make residents’ customer experience at Safeway even better. Muckle said he and his family like to bowl and skate, but has to go to Crofton for those types of activities. He would like to bring those types of businesses back to Bowie.
“As a public relations person, I understand what a broader vision is for a community and want to bring that to the process as well,” Muckel said. “I would like to see us continue to focus on more economic development opportunities. We’ve lost some things in the Bowie Town Center to Waugh Chapel and I want the town center to remain thriving because now there’s so little that no one goes there.”
Muckle sees his candidacy as an opportunity to bring his problem solving style into this government opportunity.
Best-James hopes to represent District 1 by bringing her many years of experience in policy work to the city council. She is very passionate about creating a community emergency response team, so when first responders are engaged in tragic or catastrophic events, the city have trained citizens who can help them.
She originally began her work in Bowie when she helped get the referendum passed for the police department and is now supporting the Old Bowie fire station by helping them receive grants to pay their firefighters.
“I also do a lot of pro-bono work and most of my clients are seniors. I go to court twice a month, taking time from my job to represent my neighbors free of charge and I am getting an award next month from the BAR association because I do so much of it,” Best-James said. “I genuinely care and I’m happy to help people.”
Residents thought all of the candidates had good ideas and liked that they were all focused on what is good for the community.
“I’m pro Dewberry, but I had to agree with a number of people who said it’s a nice diverse group of candidates,” Taylor said. “One improvement would be if we could all be sitting on the inside of the auditorium next time.”