Summit Profile: Meet Steve Bowman

This weekend, we had a chance to get to know Steve Bowman, Summit’s Common Councila little better.
Take a read and learn more about Steve, his passion for Summit 
and his plans if elected
to 
Summit’s Common Council.

Steve BowmanSteve, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. We can only imagine how busy you are with the election coming up in a few weeks. Here at Tips, we know how important local politics are, and we are so happy to have the chance to help Summit residents get to know you. Informed voters are best for our town.

Q. You haven’t lived in Summit very long. How did you come to be so involved?

We jumped into Summit life quickly.  I accepted an appointment on the Summit Zoning Board followed by becoming an Elder at Central Presbyterian and VP of Operations at Crestview Swim Club.  Then came my favorite volunteer role: coaching my daughter in softball.  I was recruited to these roles because I have over 30 years of work experience and significant leadership experience.  I recently sold my small business brokerage firm so I have the time, passion and energy to commit and focus on the needs of our residents and our town.

steve bowman familyQ. Time, passion and energy are certainly a requirement for this job. Why did you get into local politics?

I have been very influenced in my life by my father, a High School History teacher, who taught me to “Get Involved, Stay Involved and Always Evolve.”  As an example, while living in the Washington, D.C. area, I held the role of President of our Homeowners Association.  I enjoyed the challenge of meeting the needs of homeowners who often had differing views.  When we first moved to Summit, NJ, I was asked to serve on Summit’s zoning board because of my infrastructure experience.  I also took on a number of other volunteer roles including serving as an elder at CPC and on the board of Crestview.  I was immediately inspired by this town and its people.  I knew that I could share my energy and passion for Summit while working for the greater good of the town.  This drove me to pursue this role in public office.

Q. I know you have had to move around quite a bit. Why did you choose Summit for your last move?

When our family decided to relocate to this area from Hong Kong, many of our friends abroad advised us to check out the communities around the Summit area. When we got to Summit, we loved its uniqueness, along with its highly rated public school, train service to NYC, and vibrant downtown area, all while maintaining a home town feel with global influence.  We knew it would be a perfect fit for our life.  Karen, my wife of 24 years, works in the accounting world so she travels to NYC. Summit provides her with an easy commute to NYC and is a wonderful community for raising a family.  Karen’s volunteer roles include working with CPC, Summit Educational Foundation and the YMCA’s LOL event organizing committee.  Breanne, our daughter, is a Franklin fifth grader involved in music, cheer, swimming and softball.

My family’s experience here in Summit has given me deep insight into the needs of Summit. In particular, I have recognized that we need to always maximize the  assets of Summit and remain loyal to the Citizens of Summit.

Q. What do you think are the three greatest issues facing Summit residents right now?

I think the three greatest issues facing Summit are taxes, communication and safety.

Q. I think most people would agree with you. What are your plans for dealing with these issues?

Let me take them one by one.

  • Our tax dollars – We need to establish a strong and effective working relationship with Union County so as to limit future tax payments to Union County and improve the current disparate return on the dollars sent to the county. The City’s Operating budget has remained steady over the last 3 years, with controlled expenses, however in order to address issues that citizens are focused on, including quality of education, parking, safety, a vibrant downtown with entertainment options for our youth, we need to find ways to reduce expenses and identify additional revenue streams. We can continue to make progress in establishing a strong and effective working relationship with Union County by having designated Council members attend the Union County meetings and focus on building relationships, while at the same time making the needs of Summit visible.  Additionally, I believe we need to assemble a regional block by joining with our neighboring Union County cities to demand an effective return on all our tax dollars with Union County.  As to the City’s budget, one way to achieve additional revenue is to include in the new Master Plan, zoning for a band of higher density residences, which would increase our tax base.  One and two bedroom condos and townhouses, close to town, would attract first time buyers and downsizing families.  As to controlling expenses, I strongly support the creative ideas that the town is exploring such as Uber for commuters and would suggest we look at outsourcing of services and co-sourcing of services with neighboring towns.
  • Communication – Our citizens need effective ways to be kept informed of issues affecting our citizens such as permit application status, road construction projects, etc. I would suggest we explore a communication role that focuses on increasing communication through pushing information to residents through electronic means such as Twitter and Facebook posts, as well as through more traditional means such as a town bulletin board or flyers as well as educating residents as to the wealth of information on the town’s upgraded website
  • Safety – Our town is considered by most to be very safe, but safety is always a concern. Areas we need to focus on are school drop-offs and pickups, lack of sidewalks, safety at crosswalks, distracted or aggressive driving, and our town’s ability to respond to fire or other potential threats. We can address many safety issues through community policing and growing our community relations for our first responders with residents.  A safety issue I also hear about is speeding and reckless driving in town.  We need to continue to enforce safe practices and look for measures that will keep our drivers eyes on the road at posted speeds.

Q. Why would you make a good council member for our town?

My extensive work experience, including my background in accounting, finance and infrastructure, as well as, my time on the City of Summit’s zoning board, have given me the background and skills to do this job.  More specifically, I have significant work experience analyzing financial results and making strategic decisions; negotiating major contracts; understanding infrastructure rehabilitation; and the associated costs, which are all significant differentiators and will serve me well in serving the city I love.  This unique background that allows me to not to be intimidated by $60 million dollar budgets, yet be able to recognize the importance of watching every transaction. I am an individual who prides himself in establishing goals and expectations, and combining the team’s talents to reach them.

We are fortunate that residents do not have to be concerned with the daily operations of Summit because previous Councils have worked on improving operations, advancements in technology and hiring top level personnel. This has led to a more efficient Summit Operations.  Though, we cannot remain stagnate. As a Common Council person, I will work tirelessly to continue improvement while maintaining financial responsibility.

As I said, I sold my business, therefore I have the time, and motivation to dedicate myself to the needs of Summit and ask for your vote.

Q. What inspires you?

Believe it or not, the love of this great nation of millions inspires me.  The fact that while many of us here in the US think things are broken, there are so many individuals from other countries that aspire to move here and to make it! We, as Americans, are the standard to which other countries are measured. Yes, there are areas that need to be improved, but when you get down to it, the United States is great! We have pride in our country, the flag, and our national anthem. We inspire other countries and their citizens. So, let’s keep the trend of improving and moving forward.

Q. What is your hope for Summit?

I love Summit! Summit’s town has been extremely well run; it has solid finances; it is a safe neighborhood and has a highly ranked school system. We need to maintain this and look for ways to grow our investments in our town and maintain its AAA rating.  If elected, I promise to keep the city’s focus on performing to a standard that exceeds our citizen’s expectations.

Further, my hope is that we can tackle our three greatest challenges head on and achieve success with regard to our taxes, communication and safety.

steve-summit3Q. On a more personal level, describe your best day in town.

It starts with breakfast at Broadway Diner with my family.  Breanne, my daughter usually has something like dessert by ordering a pancake platter with whip cream and hot chocolate. It’s two eggs over easy with wheat toast and Taylor Ham for me, and my wife gets an egg white omelet.  Then, we would head to Memorial Field for me to coach my daughter’s softball team.  It is always a fun time….especially if we win!  Karen would be cheering us on from the bleachers.  Next, we would grab a sandwich at our hometown deli, of course a Turkey Sloppy Joe.  Then, I would get to play a quick round of golf at Summit’s Muni course followed by a beer with friends at the Elks.  Then, I would head home and grill some Cilantro Chicken from the Meat House.

This day would never happen, but it sure would be nice! My reality is that instead of golf and the Elks, I’m doing gardening and dump runs!

Q. What would people be most surprised to learn about you?

I am a foodie at heart…I love to try new foods but my taste buds have a serious challenge in identifying what the spices or season gins are that make a specific food what it is and authentic. Spicy (Thai) is my favorite!

 

If elected, I promise to keep the city’s focus on performing to a standard that exceeds our citizen’s expectations.

Click to read more about Steve Bowman.
To contact Steve Bowman: call (908) 410-7682 or bowmanforcouncil@gmail.com.

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