Q&A: At-Large Candidate Preston W. Thomas III on the environment and development
Bowie City Council Candidate: Preston W. Thomas III
Juris Doctor with a concentration in International & Comparative Law
Master of Science in Government Organization & Leadership
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science in Cybercrime Investigation
Years lived in Bowie: 31
www.mrprestonthomas.org or @MrPrestonThomas
Current or previous elected office, if any: N/A
Which seat are you running for on the Bowie City Council? At-Large
Endorsements from environmental leaders, if any: N/A
What is your stance on accepting donations from developers? Have you received developer campaign donations for this or previous campaigns?
I believe that all donations need to be disclosed. Transparency is key in order to ensure ethical behavior from all parties. Taking donations should always come with no strings attached and developer donations should follow all ethical rules and be disclosed. Disclosure allows the people to hold their candidate/representative accountable. I personally have never taken any developer campaign donations.
What are your plans, if any, to address concerns about overdevelopment in the Bowie area?
Overdevelopment must stop. We cannot continue to create new developments without creating and expanding city infrastructure to match it. We cannot continue to build new residential or commercial properties in the city and not expand the roads to accommodate increases in traffic. We must advocate directly to the county and the state rather than just sending a letter, as is traditionally done. As a city we can no longer ignore the fact that we do not have the ability to stop the county from approving developments that residents don't want.
Do you believe climate change is real and if so, what climate change issues, if any, are you planning to tackle while on the Bowie City Council?
Climate change is absolutely real. I currently work with the Bowie Green Team Executive Committee (GTEC) and Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) to address these exact issues within the City of Bowie. The EAC is tasked with developing environmental policy suggestions directly to the city council, while the GTEC tends to focus on performing Green projects throughout the city. Additionally, at the U.S. Senate Budget Committee I worked under Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse who is an extremely strong advocate for climate justice and fiscally responsible climate focused budgets.
After reading the Bowie Climate Action Plan, how would you work to implement it if elected?
The Bowie Climate Action Plan (CAP) has many lofty goals for the city. The GTEC and EAC play significant roles in assisting city staff to implement many of the programs and goals within the CAP. If elected I would ensure that the committees and staff have access to the resources they need to continue expanding the green energy projects outlined in the plan. Additionally, I will ensure the council has an open ear to any suggestions, amendments, or input from residents, staff, and committees.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
If elected, how will you ensure that funds are allocated to the city’s environmental initiatives?
Smart, responsible budgeting is required for all allocation of funds. During the last budget cycle some of the projects from the Climate Action Plan were put on pause; to ensure this doesn't happen again, the budget has to be created in a manner that doesn't raise taxes without a significant increase in services. Additionally, focusing on green projects that can potentially save the city money, such as the expansion of the city's solar farm, must be prioritized.
With the rise of inflation, what are your long-term plans to reduce home energy costs?
With home energy costs skyrocketing recently, the city must do more to help promote community solar projects to its residents. Currently, the city's Green Bowie newsletter and GTEC help spread information about community solar projects and other green energy discounts, however, many residents remain unaware. We must focus on increasing the reach of information the city sends out to residents. The City of Bowie, may also want to explore the possibility of creating a wind farm area to expand the city's green energy farm. Furthermore, if the city focused on growing their own green energy farm large enough, excess energy could be produced and sold back to the grid for residents to receive discounts on their energy bills and help combat costs.
What role, if any, do schools, businesses and homeowners play in protecting the environment locally?
Every person, school, business, and homeowner plays a role in protecting the environment. There is always something someone can do to help their local ecosystem. Whether that's throwing the right type of plastics in the recycling bin, turning off a light when not in use, investing in sustainable consumer and commercial products, or teaching sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in a class, everyone can do their part!
This Q&A was compiled by Ariyana Griffin, The Bowie Sun student environmental reporter.