When Tim Adams is officially sworn in Nov. 18 as Bowie’s first new mayor in 20 years, he plans to create a task force within three years to ascertain what business owners need and seek those merchants who left the city.
Adams also wants to organize listening sessions in all of the city’s four districts “to see what the residents want and how we can come together as one city.”
The 61-year-old owner of Systems Application & Technologies Inc. (SA-TECH) of Largo, a company with 650 employees that provides technology, engineering and other support services for the defense industry, made history Tuesday when he was elected as Bowie’s first African American mayor.
The city is named after Oden Bowie, a former Maryland governor who enslaved up to 103 Blacks, according to the Maryland State Archives.
“There’s no way we can’t embrace the significance of this moment,” Adams said Sunday. “All those who voted simply saw me as the best candidate.”
Official results show Adams received 3,977 votes, more than 1,250 votes ahead of the second-place vote-getter.
According to 2018 Census data, the municipality of nearly 59,000 ranks as the fifth-largest city in Maryland. It’s home to Bowie Town Center and the Bowie Baysox minor league baseball team, as well as the hometown of TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford, a 1971 graduate of Bowie High School.
Adams will replace G. Frederick Robinson, who decided to retire after leading the city for more than 20 years.
Although Adams said he loves the city’s diversity, he understands there’s room for improvement.
Accessibility throughout the city will be a priority, especially since Adams himself moves around in a motorized wheelchair. He was physically disabled in an accident nearly 16 years ago.
“I want the city to be accessible to all,” said Adams, who also serves as the first mayor with a major physical disability. “I am hopeful that those with a disability can embrace it and show your true talent.”
A campaign billboard along parts of southbound Crain Highway (Route 301) urges for to end overdevelopment.
Adams explained the focus deals with dense development, which permits more commercial or residential properties on a piece of property in a smaller designated zoning district.
One way to combat that deals text amendments, a process used by the Prince George’s County Council used to make changes on specific projects, sometimes discussed at a public hearing and voted on the same day. A proposed project in the Westphalia neighborhood of Upper Marlboro used a text amendment in order to build an Amazon warehouse, but the developer decided to pull the project after residents protested against it.
“This can cause overcrowding of schools, creates more traffic and has an effect on public safety,” Adams said. “We want to make sure we maintain a sense of quality of life.”
Adams, who has lived in Bowie for 25 years, grew up in New Orleans.
When Adams received his bachelor’s degree in science from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, he wanted to pursue chemistry.
Adams realized he enjoyed helping people and not sitting in a chemistry lab all day, so he pursued and garnered a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans.
He started his company on the West Coast in California where he met his future wife, Sheila Tillerson Adams, who is now an administrative judge in the county’s Circuit Court. The couple has three children, including twins Timothy Jr. and Kayla, who are high school seniors.
He enjoys title of “grandfather” after his eldest daughter gave birth to his grandson, Nehemiyah.
“We all want to do right and take care of our loved ones,” he said. But “if you truly want to be a change-maker, you have to be engaged. One thing my mother would say, ‘If you did something for somebody and expecting a thank-you, you did it for the wrong reason.’ Do it because you care.”
Besides the city of Bowie, other municipalities held races in Prince George’s County that included the cities of College Park and Greenbelt.
Mayor Patrick Wojahn easily won to retain his mayoral seat with 1,577 votes, according to final results. The second–place finisher, Nikesha S. Pancho, received 296 votes.
The mayor serves on the nine-member council that includes eight people representing four districts.
Three of the four areas – Districts 2, 3 and 4 – also had contested races.
In District 2, the two incumbents – P. J. Brennan and Monroe S. Dennis – garnered 264 and 240 votes, respectively, to remain on the council.
Incumbents John Rigg (463 votes) and Robert W. Day Sr. (439) maintained their seats to represent District 3.
Incumbent Denise C. Mitchell received the top votes in District 4 with 253. One new person will serve on council to represent this district and that person will be Maria Mackie, who garnered 243 votes. That’s because Dustyn Kujawa didn’t seek reelection.
Incumbents Catherine Hope Kennedy and S.M. Fazlul Kabir ran unopposed in District 1.
Voters in the city of Greenbelt chose to keep the incumbents on the seven-member city council.
Colin Byrd received the most votes with 1,769 and Mayor Emmett V. Jordan second with 1,674.
The council traditionally chooses the person with the highest number of votes as mayor and the person in second place as mayor pro tem. If the customs remain in place, Byrd would serve as the city’s new mayor.
All council members are at-large and serve a two-year term.