Fire Captain Jonathan Bowers is the best choice to represent Compton residents residing in the 3rd District. He has a clear plan to get the city back on track, and is making the infrastructure and job training program a priority if elected June 1. 2UrbanGirls had the opportunity to interview Bowers and hear more about his plans to move the city forward.
2UG: What are your top three priorities and how will you work with your colleagues to address?
Bowers: Public safety; I have been in public safety for 4 decades, I will work with my colleagues to bring about an understanding and the necessity and importance of revamping our whole public safety model. Public safety consists of law-enforcement, fire rescue, public works, parking enforcement, building and safety and code enforcement. We need to create a robust public safety program for the city of Compton. In general the city of Compton is not a safe city.
Finances; I will work with my colleagues to fix how the city of Compton’s finances are handled. We need to have regular audits; we need to have 21st century financial transaction capabilities i.e. online bill payments, business license payments, water bill payments. Being able to complete business transactions within that perspective department meaning when you obtain a business license you should be able to pay it in the building department and not have to leave and go to the cashier and return with a proof of payment receipt, or if you do a plans check in the fire department you should be able to pay for that service with a credit or debit card at the fire department. We should have a much better tracking system of our financial activities we need better checks and balances in place to prevent mismanagement, misappropriation or theft of funds.
Vocational programs; the city of Compton lacks vocational programs for our youth primarily and adults. Our youth are not job ready coming out of high school. Many of the programs that were in place when I was in school at Compton High School are no longer available, the executive intern program was a partnership between the Compton unified school District and the city of Compton. That prepared me for employment with city of Compton fire department. The city of Compton has an airport there are programs there that will afford training of our young teens to become pilots or take on other jobs within aeronautics and expose them to the aerospace industry. Man will set foot on Mars within the next 10 years why aren’t we paving the way for our children to be in the front seat of those spacecrafts that will land on Mars. We should be partnering with local businesses to teach our young people and adults trades in areas such as landscaping, sports turf management, construction, emergency medical technology and medical assistant just to name a few. Compton has eliminated practically all of our vocational training sources with the exception of career link however I’ve navigated career link and most of the links or businesses are in the city of Pasadena or East Los Angeles I found none that were in Compton.
2UG: What do you believe are the fundamental differences between you and the councilwoman?
Bowers: I’m involved, engaged, I speak up, I’m innovative, I think for the future, I don’t go along to get along, I am about accountability, I am about progress, I am open, honest and equitable. I am about a clean, safe, viable, functioning community.
2UG: If elected, do you plan to address the hiring qualifications currently in place for firefighters?
Bowers: Absolutely I will change the hiring practices and recruitment of fire department and other city personnel to embrace the citizens in and around Compton. I will definitely revise the current job specifications to hire firefighters in the city of Compton.
2UG: Will you seek to bring back the fire training program for the city’s youth?
The answer to this question is absolutely yes. I’ll give you a little history on the fire Academy. The James Shern/Compton Fire Academy was created by the late Fire Chief Monroe Smith in 1988. In 1972 Chief Smith became the first black Fire Chief West of the Mississippi River. Fire Chief James Shern was the first black Battalion Chief in the city of Los Angeles fire Department. He was appointed Fire Chief of the city of Pasadena and the first black Fire Chief in a city with a population over 100,000 people.
Historically the fire service has been plagued with racism and nepotism, which prohibited minorities from entering into the fire service. Chief Smith vowed to create a fire Academy in order to break down barriers prohibiting minorities from entering into the fire service. The James Shern Fire Academy is now defunct, due to a lack of concern, poor administration, poor leadership, no vision, and a failure to understand the plight of minorities in the United States with regards to the fire service.
I want to restore that fire training Academy because it was very valuable in preparing young men and women to enter into the fire service but the James Shern Fire Academy graduated the most people of color and women in history of California during that period. It was also crucial in providing personal development for people that went into other professional fields such as nurses, doctors, deep-sea divers and many other areas of professional employment.