Newly elected Bowie City Council member Dick Padgett was sworn in this week at the council meeting, after Mayor Audrey E. Scott and five returning members bade an emotional farewell to outgoing member John Bliss Cummings.
Cummings, the only incumbent who lost in last week's election, gave up his District 3 seat to Padgett. Cummings promised to follow council proceedings closely and to make a special effort to improve voter turnout in Bowie. Only 2,551 out of 8,585 (29.7 percent) registered voters cast ballots. An estimated 20,000 Bowie residents are of voting age.
"Any time I get a chance to get somebody to register to vote, I will, because apathy won this election," said Cummings, who added that he would not again run for public office but might campaign for others.
"He was a man of upmost integrity," said four-term Councilman Herb Sachs. "He had that special quality -- he cared about people . . . (and) he never compromised his principles."
Voter turnout was the main topic as each member made his inaugural address. Dick Logue, senior member of the council with seven years of service, said re-election of most of the council showed the voters were pleased with the way Bowie was governored.
"I think people primarily care that they have good schools, good recreation and good trash collection." Logue said. "Bascially, their life in Bowie is easy-going -- very few problems. There are few people who live in Bowie permanently; many live here for a 10-year period or so. The people who vote are bascially the hard core of people who lived in Bowie for years."
Logue was seleced by his peers, by a vote of 4 to 0 with three abstentions, to succeed Sachs as mayor protem, who stands in when Scott is absent.
Scott disagreed with Logue's assessment that a transient population led to poor voter turnout.
"I think the turnout is disappointing, but it's no less than in past years," she said. "It would have to be a concentrated effort -- some money would have to be spent on advertising -- a real push would have to be made . . . This is possible."