Ousted Smithsburg police chief to run for mayor

March 05, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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BowersOusted Smithsburg police chief to run for mayor

If he gets his way, Tommy Bowers could soon be running the town that fired him.

Smithsburg's former police chief said Wednesday he will run against incumbent Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers in the May 12 election. He said he would file his candidacy at Town Hall today.

"I would end the 'good ole boy' system here. I would be a lot less secretive about everything. This town needs to get ready for the year 2000. We need to get some democracy here," Bowers said.


"I anticipate a problem in the beginning with the majority of the council, but that would be their problem, not mine," Bowers said. "I'm willing to work with anyone."

Unless someone else joins the race by the April 6 registration deadline, Bowers and Myers will be in a head-to-head battle.

Bowers, 47, is a former sheriff's deputy who has lived in Smithsburg all his life.

He said townspeople have been encouraging him to run against Myers since his firing last August, but he hesitated at first.

"I'm not a politician, I'm a cop," he said. "Running for mayor was the last thing I wanted to do. I really loved my job. You know, until I was fired, I really didn't know I had that kind of impact on the town."

After his dismissal as chief, town residents picketed Town Hall in protest. They also circulated a petition calling for a referendum that, if approved, would amend the town charter to allow voters to recall elected officials.

Bowers said when he realized no one else was going to file against Myers he decided to get into politics. "Unless someone runs against them, nothing's going to change here," he said.

"I was angry. I'm still very angry," Bowers said. "As far as I'm concerned they ruined my police career. They did all they could to take my dignity away. I decided to take that anger and turn it into something positive."

Bowers said he likes his replacement, new police Chief Vincent du Cellier Jr., and has helped du Cellier make the transition. "I didn't do that on behalf of the town. I did it on behalf of the people," he said.

Bowers said if elected mayor he would give du Cellier free rein to do his job. "The mayor shouldn't be telling the chief of police what to do," Bowers said. "She (Myers) wants control of everything. She's got a big ego. I think she loves power. I told her she has the tendency to micro-manage."

Asked if she wanted to respond to Bowers' allegations, Myers said, "At this point in time I have no comment."

Bowers said he thinks he has a chance of beating Myers.

"If I didn't think I could win, I wouldn't be running," he said.

Bowers said despite his anger about his firing, he intends to stick to the issues during his campaign.

Among his objectives are passage of a local government ethics law. "An ethics commission comprised of town citizens should be formed and given the authority to ensure that impartiality and independent judgment of public officials and employees will be maintained and guarded against unproper influences," he said.

Bowers said he would work to improve safety at the entrances to Smithsburg schools and to improve street lighting. He said he supports the recall referendum that will be voted on during the election, and wants less interference in the operation of the police force.

"Our police force needs to operate in an atmosphere where fair and impartial decisions can be made without fear of bias, political interference and micro-management by elected government officials," he said.

If elected, Bowers said he would excuse himself from any discussion or action involving his lawsuit.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Bowers had asked for reinstatement to his job, back pay and benefits.

The court ruled that Myers, as mayor, had the right to fire him. Bowers has appealed that ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Bowers said that should he win the election, and the appeals court rules he should be reinstated to the police chief's job, he's not sure what he will do.

"That would be a tough one," he said. "I respect du Cellier. I love being a cop. That would be tough."

Bowers said Wednesday he has also not ruled out running for Washington County sheriff sometime in the future.

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