Steve Bowman is a candidate for Smithfield Town Council. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2022.
10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race. If you do not see the candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.
See who is on your ballot by viewing the candidate lists on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Name: Steve Bowman
Race: Smithfield Town Council
Biography: It is with great privilege and honor that I announce my candidacy for Smithfield Town Council.
I have resided in the town, or surrounding county, for almost 40 years. During that time, I have dedicated my entire career to serving the public. I came to Smithfield in 1982 as a town police officer serving as a patrolman. In 1984, I joined the Virginia State Police and, after the academy, I returned to Smithfield and patrolled the highways of Isle of Wight and Southampton County. I was also assigned to the Tactical Response Team that was tasked to handle the most hazardous law enforcement assignments.
In 1988, I was named chief deputy sheriff of Isle of Wight serving as the second-in-command of the sheriff’s office. This office was responsible for law enforcement, civil processes, and court security.
In 1992, I joined the Virginia Marine Resources Commission where I spent 25 years serving the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VMRC is a state agency that employs over 160 dedicated individuals and has an operating budget of over $31 million. It has a law enforcement agency within that employs over 60 state law enforcement officers.
My initial assignment was deputy chief of the Virginia Marine Police. I was promoted to chief four years later. With aspirations of one day becoming commissioner, the agency’s chief executive officer, I returned to higher education at Christopher Newport University. While working full time with a newborn son, I obtained my bachelor of science degree in government administration with departmental honors of academic excellence in 2004. In 2006, I was appointed commissioner of Marine Resources by then-governor and now-U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. In 2010, I was reappointed commissioner by former-Gov. Robert McDonnell. As commissioner, I regularly attended and testified before the Virginia General Assembly.
In 2012, I departed the VMRC and became your chief of police. I served in that capacity for five years. During that time, I focused on the best community engagement and demanded the highest level of professionalism from our officers. We were honored to receive the distinction of being named a Certified Crime Prevention Community and maintained state accreditation.
I retired in 2017 for seven months, only to be called back into service in 2018 again as the commissioner of Marine Resources by newly-elected Gov. Ralph Northam where I served until retirement in 2022. Even after retiring, I was re-appointed by the Gov. Glen Younkin administration. I graciously refused the appointment so I could focus on family and public service in my beloved home community.
I am a parishioner of the Church of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church and a member of the Smithfield Kiwanis Club. I formerly served on the Isle of Wight Volunteer Rescue Squad, attaining the rank of first lieutenant, and was responsible for day-to-day operations. I was named Squadsman of the Year in 1987. I have served as a Pony League baseball coach and assisted with grounds maintenance at Smithfield High School while my son played baseball. I am happily married and the proud father of two wonderful sons, one of who followed his dad’s footsteps into law enforcement and one that attends the University of Virginia in the pre-med program.
Why should residents elect you to Town Council?
I believe that my work experience as a public servant for close to 40 years in numerous roles identified in my biography qualifies me to serve the citizens in a professional manner. I also believe my educational experience in governmental administration from CNU provides me the additional expertise to undertake this very important role. I have a proven track record of being an insightful and independent thinker. As commissioner of Marine Resources under three governors, Democratic and Republican, I chaired a nine-member panel of gubernatorial appointees. This deliberative body decided many cases that could be controversial in nature. I was never swayed by outside influence, only by the facts and the law.
What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?
I would work tirelessly to ensure that the charm of this town is maintained through managed development with a keen eye towards compatibility and capacity, I would also work to ensure that the safety of the citizens is maintained through a close working relationship with our police department. When a safe community is in place, the desirability to locate in Smithfield is enhanced. As the former chief of police, I have a keen insight on how this can work. Finally, I would work to ensure every tax dollar is well spent and that the tax burden for our citizens is kept as low as possible.
What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?
The most pressing economic issue is the lack of diversification of our tax base. We are truly blessed to have Smithfield Foods located in our town, along with the taxes it provides for our operations. There is a sizable percentage of the budget being funded by the meals tax. Tourism also provides a significant boost to our economy; however, with the rampant rise of inflation, there is no guarantee these dollars are a stable revenue stream. If I am elected, I would stress a close working relationship with the Isle of Wight County Economic Development Department. Light industry could bolster our tax base in a grand manner.
What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
Due to the age of the town, there are numerous infrastructure issues that must be addressed. The utility services, water lines specifically, can be well over 75 years old. But, the most pressing issue we have is the re-design and reconstruction of our major traffic routes so that the citizens that reside and work here can move about in an expeditious and safe manner. The recent Comprehensive Plan alludes to the need for alternative transportation methods such as biking and walking. Without the reconfiguration of South Church Street corridor, these ideas are no more than dreams. The time has come for action to remedy the potential for gridlock.
How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?
Fortunately, Smithfield is a very safe place to work, play, and, raise a family; however, we are not immune from the woes of violent crime. Let me state, I do not believe in the term “gun violence.” That term has been widely adopted in our society, but I believe it to be a misnomer that fails to place the accountability on the individual that uses a gun to commit a crime. By failing to hold those accountable for their individual deeds, it does a disservice to law abiding citizens.
Let me state that I have watched the vigils for those killed by individuals illegally possessing guns and agree that there are far too many guns being possessed by violent felons, but I also have watched the blame for violence being laid at the feet of the police. Very seldom have I seen our society place blame on prosecutors and judges for failing to pursue maximum penalties that keep convicted violent felons off the street.
I strongly believe if you shoot someone with a firearm, you should be removed from society as to not hurt nor harm again. If elected, I will call on our prosecutors and judges to seek and hand out severe punishments to those who wreak havoc on a law-abiding society-not only here in Smithfield but all surrounding localities. While Smithfield is a relatively small community, we are well connected by a transportation system that allows for rapid transit of criminals before and after crimes.