Dr. Wayne Bowen is running for the Ward 6 City Council position of Cape Girardeau’s city government. He is the chairperson of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University and is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. Bowen is running unopposed.
Q: Why did you decide to run for a City Council position?
A: I was on the Historic Preservation Commission, and then to the [Planning and Zoning Commission] at the end 2010. When Kathy Swan decided to run for State [Representative], and I helped with her campaign, she started to joke, “Well, you’re just going to take my council seat after I get this.” I started to think about it, and the experiences on the two commissions before and my engagement with the City made me think, “Why not?” I think it would be interesting to see what happens when the recommendations come from the commissions to the City Council. With her encouragement, with the wife’s encouragement, and with some other friends supporting me, I decided to see if it would work, and so far, it has.
Q: Have you ever run for an elected government office before?
A: In Arkansas [Clark County] I was elected justice of the peace, which is more or less like a county commission. In Arkansas they are part-time and I was one of 11. Then, I had to resign to come to Southeast.
Q: Do you have any experience in working for a city government as an employee?
A: In Arkadelphia, Ark. I was on the Water and Sewer Committee. I’ve never been a city employee. My main experience in government is 23 years of Army Reserve Duty. I’ve been in a whole range of units, including ones like civil affairs units that are engaged in humanitarian work and rebuilding projects.
Q: What kind of jobs experiences do you have that would lend itself well to serving on the City Council?
A: The City Council is made up of seven individuals who have to work together in a collegial way to do the City’s business. In some ways being a member of an academic department is that. I’m the chair of the department, so you can look at me in a way similar to the Mayor. I don’t run everything. I have to get cooperation and we work together. So, in that way, being in the teaching profession has been a helpful preparation. At least at the department level, no one is really in charge; its teamwork. And then, working on political campaigns and being involved with the Republican Party has given me a perspective on what it’s like to be engaged in public enterprise as well.
Q: What has your involvement with the Republican Party included?
A: I co-managed Kathy Swan’s campaign and volunteered on Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. I was an alternate to the 2008 Republican Convention. I’ve been involved in Republican politics since I was in college. I’ve been a volunteer on campaigns in California, Illinois, Arkansas and now Missouri. It’s been great to see both winning and losing campaigns.
Q: What personal qualities do you think you have that would be beneficial for serving on the City Council?
A: I think the perspective of having lived in a lot of different places. I’ve lived in small towns in Arkansas and California. I lived in the Chicago area. I’ve served overseas in the military a couple of times. I’ve seen that there are a variety of different approaches, not just one solution. So being able to explore different possibilities, look to see what other towns of our size are doing across the country and I have friends across the country, both military and political to get ideas from.
Q: Do you have any political stances on current issues within the City?
A: The two main issues that I’ve put forward in my campaign, now it hasn’t been a really hard-fought campaign because I’m unopposed, but to definitely give more attention to public safety. I think we have excellent Fire and Police Departments. I think now would be a good time to see what we can do to help develop those departments more in equipment, training and personnel. I think the City is moving in that direction, so [I] would just try to encourage those discussions. And then also continuing economic development. I think the diversity of Cape is wonderful. The fact that we have major employers is good, but we can always do more to attract new businesses as well as to retain the ones that we have. And then being really mindful and careful with how we spend the Riverfront (Casino) Fund and other new endowments and projects that we’re beginning to take advantage of, [such as] revenue from the casino, without being dependent on it.
PHOTO: Dr. Wayne Bowen
Photo courtesy of Southeast Missouri State University