Enough Supervision: David Bowerman bows out
Here's what David Bowerman won't be doing when his fourth term on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors ends December 31: "I don't think I'll be hanging out at Board of Supervisors' meetings," he predicts. "Taking part is interesting. To watch is pretty dull."
Bowerman has been taking part for 26 years– 16 on the BOS and 10 on the Planning Commission before that. And throughout that time, the biggest issue hasn't changed. "It's always growth," he says. "How to accommodate the people who want to live here and maintain what we have."
The biggest changes have been along U.S. 29 north, which happens to be the Rio district he represents. He remembers when there was a drive-in movie theater at the intersection of Hydraulic and Emmet where Kroger is now. "The district is the most urban and has the highest density," he says. "It wants the most back from the county."
His tenure on the BOS has made him much more aware of how hard it is to govern. "It's very difficult to make decisions that affect people so much and to try and do the right thing," he says.
The toughest vote Bowerman recalls was whether to approve UVA's Research Park at North Fork on 29 north. "We felt it would accelerate growth, and we tried to put enough conditions into the rezoning to deter that," he says.
In hindsight, he regrets a decision while he was on the Planning Commission that resulted in Blandemar Farm Estates. Both the commission and the BOS voted down plans for a health resort on the property off Taylor's Gap Road. "That was a mistake," says Bowerman. "The area turned into a large-lot subdivision– not the best use of land when it could have been paying jobs."
The soon-to-retire supe has always been interested in politics, and he campaigned for Barry Goldwater in '64. Although he's still a Republican, he ran as an independent in the last election. "I don't think that partisan politics play a role in local politics," he says. Nor have partisan politics kept him from supporting Democrat David Toscano in his run for the General Assembly.
Bowerman sits in his third-floor office on Berkmar Circle and surveys a landscape that didn't exist when he and his wife, Mimi, came to town in 1977. They've been married 33 years, and she's there now working with him at Demrep, their real estate management company, and Charlottesville Smartspace, a videoconferencing center. So is Schuyler, their yellow Labrador.
Three years ago, Bowerman disappeared from BOS meetings for six weeks while he was in rehab for an addiction to prescription drugs he took for back and knee pain. "If something like that happens, and you're honest about it, no one holds it against you," he says.
He has one other bit of advice for his successor: "Keep an open mind. Don't make decisions until the day of the board meeting. You don't know what new information is going to come up until that day."
Why here? My wife, Mimi, and I moved our publishing business here in 1977 from New York City because it was such a wonderful community. The combination of rural Virginia with UVA and Charlottesville was just irresistible.
What's worst about living here? Not enough snow to use my snow blower
Favorite hangout? The movies
Most overrated virtue? Being a good listener
People would be surprised to know: I have a high-powered reflecting telescope and love astronomy and physics. I also like gardening, archeology, and history.
What would you change about yourself? I would like to remember people's names better.
Proudest accomplishment? Specifically, the "dark skies ordinance," which I helped to create and its adoption by Albemarle County. Also, making Whitewood Park an open-space reality. Generally, my role in helping to shape the Albemarle County we see today.
People find most annoying about you: I finish other people's sentences.
Whom do you admire? Anybody who has the guts to stand up and be honest about what they believe
Favorite book? Any by Stephen King and Scientific American magazine
Subject that causes you to rant? Commercial TV on the networks. I think the shows are awful and mindless, especially some of the reality type. If your life isn't exciting enough, change what you're doing.
Biggest 21st-century thrill? Meeting and talking with Mikhail Gorbachev when he was the guest speaker at UVA graduation
Biggest 21st-century creep-out? The "Cold War" and the "bomb" were not fun things to consider. But terrorism and what's going on right now may be even worse.
What do you drive? A green eight-year-old Mercedes
In your car CD player right now: Nothing. I usually listen to WINA.
Next journey? Corolla, North Carolina
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? No comment!
Regret: Not being around 100 years from now to see where we have gone
Favorite comfort food: Real vanilla ice cream
Always in your refrigerator: Diet Pepsi
Must-see TV: The History Channel
Favorite cartoon: South Park
Describe a perfect day. Visiting the Greek island of Santorini with my wife last September on a sunny, 65-degree day, looking out over the Mediterranean Sea
Walter Mitty fantasy: Actually being able to set foot on another planet
Who'd play you in the movie? George Clooney
Most embarrassing moment? I used to dip snuff, and once at a county meeting, as I fiddled with it under the table trying to be discrete and get a dip, the tin top fell off and rolled around the room making a loud, tin-can-on-a-wood-floor kind of sound. Everyone knew what I was up to!
Best advice you ever got? Always be honest, even if it gets you in trouble.
Favorite bumper sticker? Mine
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO