Joe W. Bowser | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Joe W. Bowser 

Candidate for Durham Board of County Commissioners

Name as it appears on the ballot: Joe W. Bowser

Date of birth: January 20, 1952

Campaign Web site: N/A

Occupation & employer: Retired


1. Describe your past leadership roles, both in career and community. How will these experiences help you serve on the Board of Commissioners? Please be specific about how these roles correspond to a commissioner's responsibilities.

I served 23 years as an agent with Norfolk Southern Railway Company and eleven years as a county commissioner. I have served on many boards beginning in the mid-80s to present

2. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I define myself as a politician for all people, and I have worked to make life better for them. This philosophy has and always will be my campaign platform.

3. List the three most important issues facing Durham, in order of priority. If elected, how will you address these issues? Please be specific.

Jobs, increasing the tax base, reducing poverty, will be addressed by my support of sensible and environmental sound economic development.

4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you know would cost you popularity points with voters.

My support for 751 South economic development.

5. Please describe how you handled a difficult decision in your community leadership experience or career. What were the possible consequences of the decision you made? Looking back, please explain whether you are still comfortable with how you handled the situation, or how you would change your actions.

My support for the removal of the DSS Director in 2010; I stand my decision, which will not change.

6. Last fall, voters approved new sales taxes to generate new revenue for the Durham Public Schools and for mass transit in the county. Did you vote for or against these measures? Please explain why.

I voted for these taxes because they are needed.

7. The newly adopted Durham County Strategic Plan identifies the need in Durham County to expand residents' access to technology. As a commissioner, how would you work toward this goal and how would you finance the efforts?

In 2008, I partnered with the county manager to address the need for computers in the homes of some of our most economically deprived children.

We partnered with several organizations to help us with this program.

Computers for Kids has been a successful program, and this is what I will use as a guide for future programs.

8. What are the pros and cons of the county's economic incentives program? How would you amend it? What oversight mechanisms are in place to ensure companies adhere to the policy? Are those oversight mechanisms sufficient?

Like any other program, it has it pluses and minuses. We amend as the need arises to make sure that the program works for our citizens. There is no guarantee that our oversight is sufficient when we approve a project.

9. What incentives would be appropriate in persuading the commercial and industrial sectors to cut their greenhouse gas emissions? The residential sector? Durham County in 2007 adopted a Greenhouse Gas Emissions plan, but at what point will Durham need to take more aggressive steps in emissions reductions?

I believe financial incentives are appropriate in commercial, industrial, and residential sectors. Also, I believe Durham needs to make sure that mass transit continues to increase along with its usage. Industry needs to be made aware that we are working to reduce these emissions and that we expect them to work with us on this matter.

10. Crime and safety is a large component of county government. What are your priorities for improvements in pre- and post-conviction services, such as prisoner re-entry programs and diversion programs for juveniles? How will you fund those priorities? How will you measure the success of those programs?

I believe prisoners who have served their time and paid for their misdeeds should be given a better path to jobs. Durham County has taken the position to help these citizens.

Education plays a vital role in diverting juveniles from criminal activity. I will continue to support educational programs that help juveniles stay out of the penal system.

These programs can be funded through various means, such as grants, county general funds, and intergovernmental funds. They will be measured over time by the success of the number of children who graduate from high school.

11. Among the most controversial issues to test the commissioners in recent years is development. Please explain the philosophy that will guide your decisions on development while serving as a county commissioner, and also share your definition of smart growth.

I will use the UDO along with common sense. We must balance human needs with environmental protection. I believe that we must develop in a way that protects our environment and community.

Smart-growth is growth that does not damage the environment, but helps to meet the needs of the community.

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