The simple answer is that no one can replace this iconic civic leader – – who died on May 26 from her year long fight with cancer. However the Caddo Commission must soon name an interim commissioner until a special election can be conducted.
Bowman first entered the local political scene as an electoral official when elected in 1999 as a Caddo Commissioner from District 5. She served on the commission until her election in 2006 to the Shreveport City Council, District G. Bowman then ran unopposed for the Commission in 2010 and took office on January 1, 2011. Her return to parish politics was essentially a switch of duties with one-time parish Commissioner, Sam Jenkins, who was elected to Bowman’s former council seat.
Bowman was the first African-American to chair both the Caddo Commission and the Shreveport City Council. She announced in 2010 that she would not seek re-election to the Commission due to health reasons; at that time she revealed she had rheumatoid arthritis.
Bowman had a pleasant, albeit sometimes fiery, character and she was not reluctant to go head to head with elected officials. – – from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal down to Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. While serving as Mayor Pro tem, Bowman dismissed the then Shreveport Regional Airport Director, Roy Miller; Glover re-instated Miller upon his return to Shreveport.
A fellow Commissioner Matthew Linn described Bowman as a voice for the people, and someone who fought hard for what she believed. “Everything she did created a rising tide that lifted all the boats,” said Linn. “She reached across party lines, she not only did things that benefitted her neighborhood but the entire ArkLaTex with her actions.”
Under its charter, the Caddo Commissioner must name a replacement 20 days from Bowman’s death (i.e., June 15). Since this date falls on a weekend, the deadline is Monday, June 17. The Commission must also call a special election to fill her seat; the terms ends January 2016. This will probably be on October 19, with a run off on November 16; qualifying will be August 14 – 17.
There’s little doubt that Bowman’s successor will have an uphill job in trying to replace Bowman’s character, political experience and effectiveness, as well as her integrity. Bowman was not bound by race or party affiliation when evaluating issues, and she could be counted on to do “the right thing” without regard to partisan pressures. Both the City Council and the Caddo Commission were better governmental bodies with Bowman as member of each, and her service served as a great example to others on the elected bodies she served.
Reportedly Sam Jenkins, a close personal friend of Bowman and her political protege, has advised Commission members of Bowman’s desire to have Levada Palms named to her seat. Palms is a long time friend of Bowman and has served on the Shreve Memorial Library Board for many years. It is expected that the Commission will honor this request.