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Bowline won’t seek reelection

Selma City Councilman Carl Bowline, who has represented Ward 1 since his election in 2016, announced Monday morning that he will not be seeking reelection to his seat in the municipal election scheduled for August.

“So many things obviously float through your head when your making this kind of decision,” Bowline said. “So many opportunities squandered, the needle not being moved at all, aside from political in-fighting. I knew that I had to make a decision.”

Bowline has been wrestling with whether or not to throw his hat into the Ward 1 battle, which currently has no contenders, but said that early Monday morning the issue was heavy on his heart.

“That hesitancy really, to me, indicated that I shouldn’t be there,” Bowline said. “I shouldn’t be hesitant about something that needs the commitment and the time that the council does.”

Bowline bemoaned the fact that the council has been “the worst city government in [Selma’s] history” and lamented the fact that there was “so little success” and “so much strife” during his tenure.

“The future of the community is obviously encumbered by the political rhetoric that holds us all hostage,” Bowline said. “That’s a lot to deal with. Plus, there’s so much more that goes on outside of meetings that people don’t understand.”

Despite the controversy-plagued last four years, Bowline noted that he made a number of lasting relationships as a result of his tenure on the council and found joy in talking with citizens and working to address their problems.

“I love the City of Selma and will be a phone call away from anybody I’ve worked with in Selma…and anybody else in any ward,” Bowline said. “I’m still here to move Selma forward, I’m just going to do it like I did before, as a private citizen.”

As a co-founder of Blackbelt Benefit Group (BBG), Bowline has been involved with some of the city’s biggest events each year – the annual Alabama River Chili Cook-Off and Art Jam among them – and will continue to be as he moves from being a council member to a citizen.

And he’s hopeful about the city’s future.

“I do believe the next administration will bring some clarity to the city,” Bowline said, noting that his continual efforts to build a bridge between the council and Selma Mayor Darrio Melton proved fruitless.

While he plans to see his new information request document approved before his departure, there are a lot of areas where Bowline sees a need for the city to progress.

Sports tourism is one of those areas and Bowline believes more funds should be utilized – possibly a portion of the tax money approved for Selma City Schools in the 1980s, as the school system now has fewer buildings, students and employees than before – to bolster that industry.

“I think Selma loses money daily not having the marina where it needs to be,” Bowline said. “I think those are areas where we’ve squandered opportunity.”

Bowline said tourism in the city has been “fragmented” and there needs to be a considered approach to revamping the city’s Planning and Development Department to improve the city’s curb appeal.

“There’s so many places the city has dropped the ball,” Bowline said. “That’s just a skip across the water of things I’ve seen. I think that’s a place for all of us to come together. I think those are things that allow us to come together as a community.”

Additionally, Bowline said the city needs to take a look at its policies and procedures and eliminate the “brain drain” in city hall, which has elevated unqualified employees to various positions.

“That has cost us dearly,” Bowline said, noting that hiring qualified people for city positions would ensure that things run “effectively and efficiently.”

“We have got to do better and we can do better,” Bowline said.

Bowline said there is already a candidate eying the now-open seat.

“I’m just an employee,” Bowline said with a laugh. “I’m just a custodian of Ward 1 until somebody else takes over.”

Despite the rocky nature of his council tenure, Bowline remains optimistic.

“Hopefully, I can still be a part of progressive change in our community,” Bowline said.