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Ex-economic director running for 16th House seat

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 10:05 am | Updated: 6:52 pm, Wed Mar 20, 2013.

Former Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Ken Bowman has formally announced his candidacy for delegate in the 16th District.

“The timing was just right,” said Bowman.

Bowman recently lost his job when the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors controversially eliminated the entire Office of Economic Development in a 4-3 vote. The next day Delegate Don Merricks, R-16th, announced he was retiring from the General Assembly.

“It was like one door closed and another one just opened,” Bowman said

Bowman’s wife, Pittsylvania County Supervisor Brenda Bowman, told the Danville Register & Bee two weeks ago that her husband was interested in seeking the office since Merricks was retiring. Since then, Bowman has been getting petition signatures to get on the ballot for the Republican primary in June. The paperwork must be in the registrar’s office by March 28 and Bowman said it will be done.

After that he will formally kick off his campaign.

Bowman says he a “pro-gun, Second Amendment type of guy” — a traditional fiscal conservative who leans right on most social issues as well. His wife has been heavily active in the local Republican Party for years, but he stayed mostly away from politics while holding his job with the county government.

Several businesses located to the Dan River Region during Bowman’s tenure as economic development director including Axxor, Virginia Candle, Malouf Linens and Growing Virginia. He also still serves on numerous boards and committees that relate to job creation and workforce development in the region.

He believes his ties in the business community will benefit the people of Southside if he gets elected to the General Assembly.

“This is a natural progression,” said Bowman. “It’s at the state level.”

“This will make a big difference — having on-the-ground training,” said Bowman. “It’s unique having a legislator with training like that.”

Bowman said Merricks was an “outstanding” legislator and he wants to expand on some of the work he has done. One of the hottest political issues for Merricks was his stand against lifting the uranium mining ban.

“I’m not for lifting the ban as it is right now,” said Bowman. “Just leave it in place.”

He said more focus should be on efforts in economic development and workforce training. A retired lieutenant colonel in the Army, Bowman now finds himself without a job. But he said he isn’t looking for one immediately. This allows him to focus his full attention on the House of Delegate’s race — and he said he isn’t just doing it for fun.

“I’m not just doing this because I want to,” said Bowman. “I’m doing this because there are significant things that have been done with economic development in the area that needs to happen.”

Chatham attorney Les Adams announced last week that he is also running for the Republican nomination for the 16th District, which encompasses Pittsylvania County, Henry County and Martinsville. So far, no Democrats have announced, but there is still time to get a petition in.

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