A Sumter Realtor announced her candidacy for the mayoral race in this year's election.
Debbie Singleton Bowen, also known as "Miss Debbie," has been a longtime resident of Sumter since her father, Rick Singleton, a Sumter native, retired from the United States Air Force in his hometown with her mother, Betty Singleton.
Being a military child always meant being on the move, and Bowen said she moved several times across the country with her family. It wasn't until she was in her 20s that she and her husband, Rick, moved to Sumter with their son, Jeff, and later welcomed their second child, Jennifer. They currently live in the Beech Forest community.
For about 40 years, Bowen called Sumter home and said she came to understand the community's needs through several jobs. From working at Capitol Department Store, being CFO of Air Filters Service Co. and partnering with Libby Singleton at Miss Libby's School of Dance, she said, she realized how multifaceted the Sumter community is.
However, it wasn't until she became a real estate agent and opened her own brokerage, Bowen and Associates Realty, that she said she really got to know her Sumter community and its residents.
"The most fulfilling aspect of being a broker in charge is having the opportunity to mentor, support and encourage others and to celebrate their successes with them," Bowen said. "I think any Realtor would agree that there is nothing more gratifying than helping someone find a place to call home, especially when it is in the Sumter community."
Bowen said her past jobs kept her active and taking part in the community and that she's always been an advocate for "Team Shaw," and she likes to show her respect and support for Sumter's local military heroes at Shaw Air Force Base.
She has also been involved in the community by serving on the Tuomey Foundation's Board of Directors for 10 years, which was when she created a collaborative effort between the Tuomey Foundation and Miss Libby's School of Dance to raise money for women and children's services at the local hospital by founding The Sumter Arts Showcase.
She has also served on the Sumter School Board Foundation, the YWCA Board, the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club board, the Sumter Chamber of Commerce and the Sumter Little Theatre Board.
She was an honorary commander at Shaw, a Rotarian and a member of the School Improvement Council for Chestnut Oaks Middle School. She's a member of the Sumter County Cultural Commission and an active member of Alice Drive Baptist Church, where she has served on the church's finance committee.
As far as leadership experience, she said she's gained much through the years.
"Leadership has been a vital part and tool to have in every part of my professional life," Bowen said. "From manager to business partner and now as a business owner, where others look to me for support and guidance on a daily basis. Being a leader means having a strong sense of self, but most importantly, it requires trying to live a life of faith and according to the Bible."
Bowen said her want to be the next mayor of Sumter stems from her love for every aspect the Gamecock City has to offer and that Sumter is a one-of-a-kind city. She also ran for mayor in 2012 against Mayor Joe McElveen but lost with about 30% of the vote.
"As your mayor, I would continue to build on the strong foundation in which our city's current administration has so wonderfully laid," Bowen said. "As mayor, I would continue to improve unity, opportunity and the best quality of life possible for all who live in the Sumter community."
Bowen said she has goals to focus on the community's future in allowing equal opportunity for success by strengthening the city's educational institutions and continuing economic growth to keep unemployment at a minimum.
She wants to continue strengthening the connection between Shaw and Sumter, as well as focus on continuing improvements in all residential areas in Sumter that require necessary maintenance and improvement in efforts to make all of Sumter not just livable but enjoyable.
"I am a proud citizen of Sumter, which is why the citizens of Sumter will be at the forefront and center of all that I do as mayor," Bowen said. "As mayor, I vow to have a relationship with my constituents, and the goals and decisions made will be in collaboration with what the people of Sumter need. I promise to be a mayor who is here for all and wants to hear from all because community and opportunity can't exist without unity."
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