Mike Bowersox never aspired to run for office.
A longtime businessman — he is part owner of Ben Lewis Plumbing in Clarksburg — the 62-year-old Frederick resident preferred to spend his non-working hours playing golf and enjoying the company of his wife, children and grandchildren. But he also wants to ensure the quality of life he has enjoyed in Frederick for the last 40-plus years would continue, for his family and others.
Which is why, after refusing encouragement from fellow members of the Republican Central Committee and family and friends to run for office for nearly a year, he at last acquiesced. He will vie to represent District 3A in Maryland’s House of Delegates after accepting the central committee’s nomination.
Although initially hesitant to join the political fray, Bowersox was firm in his conviction that, if elected, he would not conform to the traditional stereotype of a politician.
“I’m a businessman,” he said in a recent interview.
His professional experience also informed his views on the reforms he hoped to bring to state and local politics of elected. Chief among his priorities was increasing government efficiency while reducing taxes.
“In business, we can’t just raise our prices whenever we want,” he said. “The way you solve a problem in business is by finding efficiencies. Government should do the same.”
Bowersox named state income and city property taxes as examples of taxes he hoped to help reduce. Asked how to make government more efficient, he did not have a detailed plan but said government employees could be saving their departments money by eliminating red tape.
He went on to highlight how reducing regulation and fees could in turn benefit populations in need. For example, cutting some of the permitting fees and other expenses charged to housing developers would in turn allow those developers to offer more affordable housing options that benefit low-income and senior residents, he said.
As a member of the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals, Bowersox also called for reform to county zoning processes. He pointed to a new county ordinance that limited the size and location of solar arrays on agricultural land as evidence of unfairness and infringement on property rights.
Bowersox will not be affected by state legislation that would expand county ethics laws, including requiring members of the Board of Zoning Appeals to step down within 48 hours of declaring candidacy. His term on the appeals board expires in June, ahead of when the bill, if passed, would become law on July 1.
A self-proclaimed conservative on both fiscal and social issues, Bowersox acknowledged the need to work across the political aisle to make progress in a decidedly blue state. His primary goal, to improve and protect qualify of life for local and state residents, was not a Republican or Democrat issue, he said.
“I think everybody wants to see the right thing done, and that’s not a partisan goal,” he said.
He added that his votes would likely align with conservative values, but that they would be decisions made “for the betterment of all people of Maryland.”
As one of two Republicans running for the two open seats in District 3A — he is joined by University of Baltimore law student James Dvorak — Bowersox will advance automatically to the general election. The Democratic candidates in the race include the two incumbents, delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young, and Ryan Trout, the former chief of staff for state Sen. Ron Young (D).
District 3A includes the city of Frederick and surrounding areas. Delegates serve four-year terms and earn $50,330 annually.
The 2018 primary election is June 26, and the general election follows on Nov. 6.