It is his strong belief in democracy and voting that inspired Bowie resident Richard Dahms to place his name on the ballot as a mayoral candidate in the Bowie 2013 municipal elections.
“Democracy requires candidates. There was only one election being challenged so I placed my name on the ballot,” Dahms said.
He also has a strong drive to implement political and administrative changes in the city. Dahms says his philosophy of governing would be vastly different from that of Bowie’s incumbent, Mayor D. Frederick Robinson.
“Fred Robinson believes that the people report to him, I believe that the mayor and city council report to the people. It’s a fundamental difference in philosophy,” Dahms said.
Some members of the council have been sitting on the dais since the 1980s, and Dahms thinks it is time for a change.
“I would like to reform our city and open it up to everyone and not just two or three people who have monopolized the city for a lifetime,” Dahms said. “I think talk is widely dispersed throughout the city and I think it’s quite arrogant that there is a mindset that ‘We are the only people who can take care of Bowie."
One of Dahms' first actions—should he be elected—would be to limit the term of what he called the Chief Executive Officer of Bowie. The position he’s referring to is the city manager job, which is currently not elected, but appointed by the city council, as is the case for most municipal governments.
Dahms, who has lived in Bowie for 52 years, has run for mayor unsuccessfully two other times, but that has not dampened his spirits or his drive to implement change in the city government. He is unabashedly proud of Bowie and the amenities the city affords its residents. Dahms is also proud of the city’s AAA bond rating and the city’s financial health, a credit to residents who “pay the bills,” he said.
In addition to administrative changes, Dahms’ plans for change would include expanding city limits, though he says he’d go about it differently then the current administration.
“All of the annexation that I can remember deals with development. I’m proposing something entirely different,” Dahms said.
He’d like to see the city annex Nash Woods to further protect the land. He’d also like to see Bowie State University annexed by the city.
“I think it is part of the racial divide that the university is outside of the corporate city. I’d like to bring that historic institution into the city,” he said.
He said he was in favor of the city purchasing the Bowie Racetrack and stables, but that he would not support any development on the land. He’d prefer to see it as a green or open space.
As far as the question voters will face on Tuesday about whether or not to expand council terms, Dahms says he’s also in favor of two-year council terms as opposed to four, saying “more democracy is better than less democracy.”
Dahms said it would be an honor to be elected mayor of the city of Bowie, and hopes he will gain public support as an independent thinker.
Dahms’ name will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot in the city of Bowie’s elections. For more information on the elections, or to find your polling place, check the city’s website.
Patch has requested interviews with all Bowie council candidates running in contested elections. Profiles of other candidates will appear on Bowie Patch throughout the week.
*This article has been updated to reflect that the City Manger is appointed by the Bowie City Council, not the mayor, as is typical for municipal governments.