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Sheriff's job a lifelong dream for Bowers

July 04, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Tommy Bowers said he doesn't like politics.

He doesn't like campaigning either, but the former Washington County Sheriff's deputy, Smithsburg police chief and Smithsburg mayor said he is running for Washington County Sheriff to fulfill a lifelong dream.

"I've had it in the back of my mind for at least 20 years. I thought I'd like to work my way through the ranks and run for sheriff," Bowers said.

After some soul searching, Bowers, 51, said he decided that now was the right time to enter the race. Bowers waited until the last day to file because he was apprehensive about going up against incumbent Sheriff Charles Mades in the general election, he said. A popular Democratic Sheriff, Mades hasn't had a challenger since first being elected in 1986.

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"It's going to be an uphill battle. He's respected - I respect him myself - but I think five terms is too many," said Bowers, a Republican.

"I wish Bowers well in his campaign. I guess we'll see what the voters decide," said Mades, a former Maryland state trooper.

Growing up in Smithsburg, Bowers said his first love always has been law enforcement. After a stint in the Marines, Bowers graduated from the police academy and was hired by the now defunct Williamsport Police Department. He joined the Washington County Sheriff's Department in 1977.

Bowers, of 18 W. Water St., rose to the rank of sergeant, supervising an eight-member platoon and taking charge of the resident deputy and cadet programs. Bowers was commander of the SWAT team and chief firearms instructor. He left the sheriff's department in 1987 and has worked for private security firms.

He worked as Smithsburg's police chief from 1994 to 1997 and was elected mayor of the town in 1998 after being fired by then-mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers. As mayor, he supervised six full-time employees and three part-time employees, he said.

He expanded the municipality's police force, improved water lines on Main Street and balanced the water and sewer budgets, which had been $500,000 in debt, he said.

In his campaign, Bowers said he will go door-to-door informing voters of his background and ideas about improving deputy response time and clearing up the county's drug problems.

"The county (narcotics) task force is not enough," Bowers said.

Supervising the sheriff's department's 200 employees will take a firm hand and an ability to delegate duties, he said.

"I don't micro-manage," he said.

His high energy level and dedication to public service make him a good candidate for sheriff, Bowers said.

In deciding whether to run, Bowers said he was inspired by a poster of the seashore at night that included a quote about having the courage to explore the unknown.

"I'll never know unless I try," he said.

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