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City of Bowie Elections 2011: At-Large Candidate Profile: James Bell

Young candidate paints himself as the only true fiscal conservative.

Editor’s Note: In Tuesday’s Bowie city elections, there are four contested races – , , and . Patch is running profiles on the nine candidates in the four contested races. For mayor and District 1, the incumbents are running unopposed. The final installment: The three At-Large candidates vying for two seats.

During the city council election forum at the Kenhill Center, there was one candidate who drove the agenda by causing the incumbents to respond to his comment that the city’s new recycling bin program was too expensive during these recessionary times.

There was one candidate calling for Bowie to jumpstart its economy by remarketing itself as a haven for young families.

It was the candidate with the least amount of political and life experience. It was political newcomer James Bell, 26, who is seeking an At-Large seat on the Bowie City Council.

Bell is an unemployed teacher whose contract was not renewed and has moved back in with his parents in Bowie. He decided to run about a week before the filing deadline. He said his mother, Patricia Bell, prodded him into making the move. “She was saying to me ‘you’re always talking about local politics. It’s time to do something about it. Either put up, or shut up.’ ”

While incumbent Bowie City Council members tend to paint themselves as fiscal conservatives, Bell says he may be the only candidate who is actually filling that role. Bell said that about three years ago when the recession hit, the incumbent council members stopped being fiscal conservatives when they didn’t implement emergency austerity measures. “They changed their politics,” said Bell.

As an example, Bell said the city has curtailed some of its road paving and maintenance because of cuts in state transportation aid. Under those circumstances, Bell said it doesn’t make fiscal sense to be embarking on a new and larger recycling bin program (incumbent council members that the program will pay for itself in lower landfill fees).

“I’d rather have my roads paved than have my trash picked up in a new way,” said Bell.

Bell is also the only candidate emphasizing the importance of revitalizing the city by encouraging young families with children to move into Bowie. He said that should go hand-in-hand with efforts to increase senior housing. If there were apartments and condominiums here available to the city’s elder single-family  homeowners, that would give them alternatives and allow them to sell their homes to younger families.

“Property values would be increase, which would drive up revenues,” he said.

Bell said he has no illusions about winning the election. He is running against two current council members each with decades of political experience. “If I’ve gotten them to least think a little about my points, then I will be proud of what I’ve accomplished.”

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