Longtime west Louisville resident Angela Bowens wants to bring her focus on education and community-building to her new role as the District 1 representative on Metro Council.
Council members chose Bowens last week to take over the seat vacated by Jessica Green. Bowens will serve out the remainder of Green’s term through early January since Green resigned last month. Gov. Andy Beshear appointed Green to be a judge on the Jefferson County Circuit Court.
At her swearing in, Bowens said Green left her “some big shoes to fill,” having represented District 1 since 2015 and becoming known as a staunch advocate for residents of the West End district who often feel ignored by their local government. After announcing her resignation, Green received praise from her fellow Democrats, as well as leaders of Metro Council’s Republican caucus. Green’s mother, Judy, also represented District 1 for five years.
In an interview with WFPL News, Bowens said her main goal for the next nine months is to continue the advocacy Green was known for, particularly around the need to reopen the public library in the Parkland neighborhood.
“If you don’t have any books to read, how can you get an education?” she said. “That will be a big focus. I’d really like to get that taken care of.”
Bowens, 55, said she’s been a resident of the Park Duvalle neighborhood for 14 years and she’s lived in Louisville’s West End her entire life. Her parents were born and raised there, and she grew up at the corner of 26th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
“That’s where my memories are, my heart is there,” Bowens said.
She said District 1, which also includes parts of the Riverside Gardens, Chickasaw and St. Dennis neighborhoods, used to have a “family atmosphere” where everyone knew their neighbors. Bowens said she’s seen her neighborhood change over the years, with more vacant homes and an increase in crime.
But Bowens said she still has hope for her neighborhood. She’s an advocate for increasing access to city resources as a way to tackle the root causes of crime.
“Everybody wants to have something in life,” she said. “They need jobs, trade school, education, places to go for health. All of those tie into crime because they don’t have that. They just need some directions to go in.”
Being a representative who can connect people in her community to each other, as well as to necessary resources, is a top priority for Bowens. She said she also wants to set a good example for residents.
Bowens is a healthcare billing professional at the psychiatric residential treatment center Uspiritus, but she previously worked in banking. She said she didn’t get her Bachelor’s degree until the age of 42. She earned her Master’s degree at 45.
“The tradition is [graduating] high school, going to college, getting a job, but it may not be that way for you,” Bowens said. “So if you stumble or you fall and you say, “I didn’t do it when I got out of high school, so I can’t do it now,’ you can. I’m the example.”
In addition to her work, Bowens is a volunteer member of Male High School’s School-Based Decision Making Council, which is in charge of setting the curriculum, hiring principals and overseeing the school’s budget. She also served on Jefferson County Public Schools’ Student Assignment Committee, providing feedback on the district’s new “school choice” proposal.
Bowens said she will advocate for access to education as a member of different council committees. She’ll replace Green as a member of three committees: Appropriations, Public Safety and Community Affairs, Housing, Health and Education.
Whoever wins November’s election will take over the seat in January for a full, four-year term. All of the odd-numbered council districts are up for election this year, though only seven are contested races. There are four Democrats and one Republican running in District 1. Bowens is not one of them.
Asked what message she wanted to give to the District 1 residents she now represents, Bowens said: “When you see me, you see the West End.”
“You see a mother who was single, a mother who didn’t have an education, and someone who has always been that figure that wants to do the best for her kids, as well as her community,” she said.