Bowman chosen as Smithfield mayor

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Smithfield’s Town Council has unanimously elected Steve Bowman as the town’s new mayor.

Bowman, who previously served as the town’s police chief and as Virginia’s commissioner of marine resources under three governors, was the top vote-getter among five candidates seeking four available council seats in the Nov. 8 election. Former Mayor Carter Williams, whose term ended Dec. 31, had received the fewest votes of the five.

In Smithfield, the mayor is not elected directly by voters but by a majority vote of sitting council members at its annual organizational meeting, which in this case was held Jan. 3.

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Bowman, a 40-year resident of Smithfield, oversaw 180 employees, a $33 million budget and roughly a third of the state, spanning 29 counties and 17 cities, as marine resources commissioner, but “no position that I’ve ever held, to me, is any more important than the one I sit here and undertake tonight,” Bowman said.

“The bottom line,” he added, “is any one of these individuals seated here today are capable of being mayor, and to be so elected by this austere group is certainly an honor and a privilege.”

Bowman then pledged that he and his fellow council members would make themselves “available” and “transparent” to the public.

The council’s vote on Bowman’s nomination for mayor carried unanimously, though the council was more divided on its second vote of the evening – selecting a vice mayor.

Councilman Wayne Hall nominated Councilman Michael Smith, who’d served as vice mayor previously under Williams, but his motion received no second. Councilman Randy Pack then nominated Councilwoman Valerie Butler, resulting in a 5-0 vote with Hall and Smith abstaining.

Butler said she was looking forward to working with Bowman over the next four years “to do the best for our community,” noting her friendship with Bowman “goes back probably more than 20 years.”

“We have a great working relationship among the current Town Council and I’m looking forward to working with the newest members as well; my door is always open, I’m always available if there’s a concern or something that you don’t agree with,” Butler said.

The Jan. 3 meeting marked the first official acts not only of Bowman but also Jeff Brooks, who was also elected to his first term on Town Council on Nov. 8.