Monday, October 13, 2014

Q&A with Ron Bowers, candidate for County Commissioner

The following are answers to the WashCo Chronicle County Commissioner candidates' questionnaire for Ron Bowers, candidate for County Commissioner. Thank you very much Mr. Bowers for responding to the questionnaire!

1)     Why should the citizens of Washington County vote for you to become a member of the County Commissioners?

My campaign slogan says it best...Less Talk, More Action. A leader leads by example and actions speak louder than words! My leadership has been honed in several ways over my career. First, I served as an officer in the United States Military with several commands. Second, I have served 5 terms as County Commissioner, (8 years as President), in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Third, I have been an active leader in public, private, and Fraternal organizations including several non-profits and charitable causes, Government commissions, including the Economic Development, Aging, Transportation, Planning, and on 2  Governor's Commission’s  on School Construction. I will bring five decades of leadership back to the people of Washington County and draw on these experiences to deliver sound judgment and reasonable actions to County Government.

2)     What do you feel is the most important challenge currently facing our county? How will you address this challenge?

The Number one challenge for the newly elected County Commissioners should be to represent the interests of all  the people, Republicans, Independent/Unaffiliated, and Democrats,  while keeping and open and transparent government. Working with the other four (4) commissioners is absolutely essential to insure there’s less talk and more action!  A County Commissioner must be willing to work with ALL political parties to make sure that the will of “all” people is represented. I believe that a Commissioner needs to be proactive with the people who he or she represents. That is why I encourage citizen participation in County Government and will push for open work sessions for the public to let their voices be heard. I have represented the county over 5 different decades and have seen the good and the bad of county government. I want us to get back to the days where the Commissioners actually listen to the people and governed accordingly.

3)     What are your thoughts on the Western Maryland New State Initiative – an attempt to break off Western Maryland from the rest of Maryland, in order to better protect our area’s interest?

This is not a New Initiative, its been around in different forms for many years! With all parties working together we can protect our area’s interest and become extremely competitive with our neighbors to the North and South, their biggest fear today is that we will get our act together and become the dominate county we once were!!!

Rather than take an isolationist position of breaking away from the state, we should work with the communities to the North, South, East and West to make our area a stronger,  more economically viable community which will make the rest of the State want to come to us. It is just plain fact that for all of the communities that surround us, Washington County is the epicenter of the economic, social and entertainment culture. We should promote that to our friends in Annapolis and in the metropolitan centers to let them know of the value of Washington County to the rest of the state’s greater good.

4)     With the increase in cost of running fire and ems service in Washington County and the decrease in volunteerism how do you plan to increase funding or do you plan to propose a fire tax?

Washington County should provide added incentives for citizens to join Volunteer Fire and Rescue Companies by adding benefits to the Length of Service Awards Program.  First, include a Medicare Supplement when reaching age 65.  Second, add Group Life Insurance benefits for individuals who are members enrolled in the LOSAP. Third, offer a property/renters tax credit after so many years of service. Forth, ask Leadership Washington County to champion a project to determine what would cause citizens to become volunteers for our Fire and Rescue Service…what a novel idea, working with the entire community to help solve our volunteer problem without a property tax increase!! 
The proposals I’ve made would take additional funding over a period time but would not require a fire tax!

5)     If elected, what will you do to bring more businesses into Washington County, and boost our economy?

Until over two decades ago, Manufacturing Jobs dominated the landscape of the Washington County Economy. As the times have changed there has been a shift in the job market to be more service oriented. Washington County has developed core strength with the education system including the expansion at HCC, the development of Kaplan University, and the University Systems of Maryland.  Washington County has developed a wealth of individuals trained in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medical. Now, we need to recruit the jobs meeting the skills of the talented people we are developing in our educational system. STEMM jobs are food paying careers which will ensure a bright future for the economy while expanding our tax base.
To attract these jobs, I propose that we set up an INDEPENDENT Economic Development Authority whose primary focus would be attracting companies that would bring the jobs for our trained workforce.  The current EDC structure is too antiquated to be an effective job developer!  By setting up a new independent system of Economic Development, the county will be more able to recruit companies which offer jobs of the future. We cannot forget the Manufacturing base that we still enjoy in Washing County; every effort to expand that base must be taken by the new Authority.
While new technologies are important to develop our future workforce, we must still remember that Washington County is an agricultural county. We need to focus on the future while not forgetting the present and our rich past. Our farming community is strong and we must do what we can as County Commissioners to encourage new farming opportunities, Agribusiness and farm friendly communities.

6) Do you have any closing statements you'd like to include?

Ronald L. Bowers was  Born, July 11, 1943, and lives in Maugansville, Md.
Served an unprecedented five consecutive four-year terms (1978-1998) as Washington County Commissioner and was President of the Board for eight years. Was an active member of the County Planning Commission, Transportation Commission, and Commission on Aging, and served on the Smart Growth Commission for the State of Maryland.
Member of the Maryland Association of Counties Board of Directors and served on many planning sessions. Ron was able to bring the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference to Hagerstown from its customary place in Hunt Valley. Ron was appointed to, and served on many local, state, and national boards and commissions over a 40-year period while serving on the Governor's task force on school construction two different times, the Kramer Commission and the Hutchision Commission.
Retired from Mack Trucks, Inc., after 39.6 years of service in the shipping and receiving department,  proudly served  his country for 20 years in the Maryland Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve as a Company Commander and staff officer, retiring with the rank of Major. Ron commanded the 1007th L.E.M. Co. located on Willard Street the new home for the Senior Center for Washington County. was awarded the Meritorious Service Metal and the Army Accommodation Medal and was an Expert Marksman with the Rifle and Pistol.
Serves on the Board of Directors of the Historic Maryland Theatre and was the Chair of the Building Committee for many years, Mason-Dixon Council Boy Scouts of America, Salem Lodge 196 AF & AM of Smithsburg, Ali Ghan Shrine, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, Hagerstown Forest no. 95, American Legion Post 42, Life Member Amvets, Elks Lodge 378, Past President of the Hagerstown Torch Club, Life Elder of First Christian Church, and enjoys working in politics and reading a few books.
Held Real Estate licenses in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and was elected in 2009 to a second three-year term as Trustee for the Realtor Political Action Committee in Maryland,  and held the office of Treasurer.  Currently serves as Chair of the Governance Committee for Horizon Goodwill Industries and is an active member of several committees. Past President of the Long Meadows Rotary Club for two terms.
Former Vice Chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, Chair of the Site Development Committee, and a current member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee and the Lobbying Coalition. In 2001 appointed for a six-year term by Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening as Administrator to the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Boards for the twenty-three counties and Baltimore City.

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