Name: Stephen Bowden
Party: Nonpartisan
Office: Charleston City Council, District 10

Bowden
  1. Why are you running?

I’m running because West Ashley is facing unprecedented challenges from reckless development, flooding, and traffic. Now, more than ever, we need a mature, serious voice on City Council who will fight to protect our homes, shorten our commutes, and make government work.

2. What do you expect to accomplish if elected? 

I want to improve the quality of life for citizens of district 10 by responsibly managing and limiting growth in outer west Ashley, securing funding to implement solutions to reduce flooding that the City has studied, and pushing for transportation solutions that include new infrastructure and more innovative approaches.

3. What distinguishes your candidacy?

I believe my commitment to serving people and problem-solving distinguish my candidacy.  I have spent my entire career fighting for people in difficult circumstances. I started by representing homeowners who had been harmed by irresponsible developers, but I transitioned to the Public Defender’s Office when I felt the call to public service.  There, I address all of my clients’ needs, including veterans in the Veterans Treatment Court, and help offer solutions for obstacles like drug addiction, homelessness, and mental health challenges.  In these situations, excuses aren’t good enough.  I believe residents in District 10 deserve that same urgency.

4. Describe how the impact of climate change in the Charleston area would affect your work if elected.

The effects of climate change add urgency to the improvements we need in our drainage infrastructure. Normal rainfall events are becoming more intense and tropical systems are rapidly intensifying more than they have in the past. Along with rising seas, we are facing a perfect storm of challenges to our ability to continue to live on the coast. Our ability to respond will determine whether my children and grandchildren will have a place here.

5. Pick an issue you believe has not been adequately addressed by local government. Describe solutions you will pursue if elected.

Flooding.  The City has taken positive steps in the last four years, particularly with the implementation of new stormwater standards.  However, the city must go further and implement new zoning policies that encourage smarter development and protect wetlands from further destruction. 

6. Pick one urgent issue currently facing the office you are seeking (different from questions 4 and 5) and describe how you would address it.

Traffic.  I would address it with an “all of the above” approach that would include advocating for new infrastructure, exploring public transit options, and working to build more walkable community and various city centers that would get traffic moving in multiple directions.

7. Do you pledge to work with other council members to move forward collaboratively and to reduce partisanized bickering? How will you accomplish this?

I will work with other council members.  When I became a lawyer, the Supreme Court required me to take a civility oath that is, essentially, being able to disagree without being disagreeable.  That’s an important skill, especially when tempers flare, and something that our elected officials have failed to adhere to.  In my career, if I fail to uphold that oath, I could be disbarred. That oath is the standard that I will hold myself to in office. The job is about the citizens of our city, not the individuals on City Council, and public servants should always remember that.

8. Please give a 150-word summary of your background.

I grew up in coastal Virginia and am proud to have received a world-class education in public schools. I graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in History and Political Science. I went on to receive a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.  

After completing law school, I moved to Charleston to begin my legal career at a firm that represented homeowners who were harmed by reckless developers.  I enjoyed helping people who had devastating problems with their homes, however I decided to move on to the Charleston County Public Defender’s Office. 

I am married to my wife, June, who I met when we were freshmen in college. She is a Charleston County public school teacher. Our first child is due in March 2022.