History professor puts in name for Ward 6 council seat

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Wayne Bowen

Dr. Wayne Bowen, chairman of Southeast Missouri State University's history department, has announced his interest in replacing Kathy Swan as Cape Girardeau's Ward 6 representative as she moves from the city council to the Missouri House at the end of the year.

Bowen is the first to publicly declare interest in the temporary appointment to the seat by the council, and the first to express his intention to run for the seat in a special election next year. He said Monday his previous experience as a member of the city historic preservation commission and the planning and zoning commission, combined with what he considers "an exciting time for Cape" as motivations for seeking the seat.

Bowen originally hails from California and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, having served in Iraq. He is the vice chairman of the city's planning and zoning commission, has written several books and is well-known on the local Republican political scene as a campaign volunteer, member of the SEMO Pachyderm Club and vice chairman of the Cape Girardeau County Republican Central Committee.

Bowen worked on Swan's campaign earlier this year as she attempted to take the 147th District House of Representatives seat.

She ran unopposed in the primary and the general election. She said last week she intends to resign from the council in December to begin her new role as a Republican state legislator. She has said she is hopeful the council's choice to fill her seat will stay in tune with the city's small businesses, as she believes she has done in her time on the council.

"I really respect Kathy Swan, and see that it would be very helpful for the city and the ward to continue with the same kind of representation that she's been able to provide up there," Bowen said. "Having worked on her state rep campaign, and getting to be a little more involved in local politics here, I just think it would be a good opportunity to help move the city forward."

If Bowen is elected to the seat, it won't be the first time he has held office. He served as a justice of the peace in Clark County, Ark., from 2006 to 2008. He resigned to move to Cape Girardeau to work for the university.

Issues in Cape Girardeau that attract Bowen's attention include industrial development -- he said he is concerned about a perceived lack of space for large employers to locate -- and the long-term effects of Isle Casino Cape Girardeau on the local economy.

"There have definitely been some positive contributions that [the relationship between the city and the casino] has already brought. Just look at the Broadway improvements -- that has been pretty spectacular. But I think it is going to take two or three years to see what it really means to have this new partner in the community," he said.

Bowen said he sees progress in working toward an expansion to the Cape Girardeau Police Department's cramped facilities, but is concerned with the retention rate of the department's officers. He said he believes salaries need to be reviewed to see if the department is being competitive enough; he said he also would like to see such action in other city departments.

City manager Scott Meyer on Monday said he's heard from no one other than Bowen who's interested in filling the upcoming vacancy through appointment. An appointee will hold the seat at least until the results of a special election in April are finalized or prompt a general election in August. The council will adopt a resolution setting the April election date at its Dec. 3 meeting, which will set the filing dates for the Ward 6 race to open Dec. 18 and close Jan. 15. If three or more candidates file, April's election will serve as a primary election leading up to an August general election. In order to file for candidacy in Ward 6, a person must be at least 21 years old, a registered voter and a resident of Ward 6 for 90 days before Jan. 9, 2013. A petition with signatures of 50 registered voters in the ward that is certifiable by the city clerk is also required.

Bowen writes a bi-monthly column for the Southeast Missourian which would be suspended for the time leading up to elections should he officially file as a candidate.



Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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