Meet Samantha Bowden – one of the “30 under 30” rising stars in Florida politics

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Samantha Bowden, 25, lives in Tampa and earned dual degrees at USF in international affairs and geography.  She entered politics for “an abiding rational and moral conscious to do what I can to improve the world we live in.” Not shy for words, Samantha describes herself as “blessed with intellect and the opportunity of having been born in the US, while other are born into squaller (here and abroad).”

Samantha is a registered Democrat but directs her energies toward issues not parties.  “As a prominent Occupy activist, and Millennial well acquainted with the devastating affects of ‘Citizens United’ and the growing hegemonic power of corporate finance since the 1980’s neoliberal shift, I’m very much party agnostic, and support candidates, and issues based on their qualifications as a progressive.”

She has volunteered with Rock the Vote, HRC, Awake the State, and Occupy Wall Street. She has worked with the Gulf Restoration Network, Florida Consumer Action Network, US Small Business Administration, Tucker/Hall, and the Florida Council on American Islamic Relations, where she currently works as the communications and outreach director.  Who does Samantha admire? Among a host of progressive leaders, she cites Rachel Maddow for “her wit, truth and fierce ‘existential angst'” with which she can relate.

Here is Samantha Bowden in her own words:

I am 25 years-young.

I live in Tampa… and am from Riverview…. I went to school at USF earning dual degrees in International Affairs and Geography.  I hope to visit the Middle East, as I’ve already traveled to Europe, Central America, and Africa.

I entered politics because… Thanks to my parents, I have an abiding rational and moral conscious to do what I can to improve the world we live in. I’m blessed with intellect and the opportunity of having been born in the US, while others are born into squaller (here and abroad), and thus I must do what I can to help.

One principle I always put above politics is… the collective good versus the influence of ‘big money’ or capital. As a prominent Occupy activist, and Millennial well acquainted with the devastating affects of ‘Citizens United’ and the growing hegemonic power of corporate finance since the 1980’s neoliberal shift, I’m very much party agnostic, and support candidates, and issues based on their qualifications as a progressive. For example, Commissioner Mark Sharpe’s advocacy of mass transit, or Ron Paul’s anti-war/isolationist policies, despite coming from Republicans, I support those individual initiatives. While a registered Democrat, I emphasize the insistence on progressive politics, regardless of party affiliation.

Person or people who gave me my first shot: My parents along with superb educators such as Professors Fiore, Basu, Bosman and Wong at USF gave me the confidence and fortitude to know the world, and to engage with it effectively. My first public speaking gig came from an Awake the State event in which Tim Heberlein asked me to speak on public transit, specifically High-Speed Rail, to the Hillsborough County Delegation summit at USF in the fall of 2010. Just prior to that I had done a study involving interviews with Sen. Nelson (and other key players) regarding the push to get High-Speed Rail connectivity between Tampa and Orlando. A combination of Sen. Nelson and Tim really got my public advocacy going. I remain very thankful to them all.

I’ve already worked for/on: In chronological order… 

Volunteer:

Rock the Vote, HRC, Awake the State (Awake Tampa), Occupy Wall Street (Occupy Tampa/USF)

Professional:

The Gulf Restoration Network, Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN), US Small Business Administration, Tucker/Hall, Inc., Florida Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL)

I started doing volunteer voter registration with Rock the Vote in 2006, then did membership drives for HRC. I began professional politics with the Gulf Restoration Network in the summer of 2009. Since then, I’ve worked for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development as a financial exam analyst, the Florida Consumer Action Network as a community organizer leading a successful 10,000 new voter registration drive in East Tampa, as well as volunteer organizing with Awake the State. In February 2013 I joined Tucker/Hall, Inc. as their Research Associate in public affairs, and have recently joined the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) as their Communications and Outreach Director. Growing up with both a grounding in Islam, and in a post-9/11 world, I was horrified to continually watch the dual travesties of an ever-growing global ‘War on Terror’ (and fraudulent war/occupation of Iraq, plus support of human rights abusers and dictators in the MidEast) couple itself with the erosion of civil liberties, warrantless detentions, interrogations, renditions, and security checkpoint profiling (ethnic and religious) affecting the Muslim community worldwide, but especially here at home. I’m honored to defend the civil liberties of a community who has played a vital role in providing social services and spiritual guidance to its members, as well as a key partner in preventing and reporting violent radicalization here at home and abroad.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for: intelligent and thoughtful leadership, and a noble/progressive cause.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors: My Mom, Lorelei Bowden-Jacobs, legislative liaison to Sheriff Gee; Professors Fiore, Basu and Bosman at USF; Tim Heberlien, Political Director of FCAN; Wendy Cartwright, long-time Democratic activist; Mary Mulhern, Tampa City-wide Councilwoman; Hassan Shibly, Esq., Executive Director of CAIR-Florida.

The people I most admire in politics are: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT; Tampa Councilwoman Mary Mulhern; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, for their convictions and standing up to big-money interests. Rachel Maddow, for her wit, truth, and fierce ‘existential angst’ with which I can most relate.

One lesson I’ve already learned is… Party politics are ruled by money. It’s all about the Benjamin’s, or the almighty dollar. Take it candidate by candidate, issue by issue, and follow the money!

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in a hospital as a doctor, which was my original major and life’s direction. 

In ten years, you’ll read about me in the jacket of the book I’m going to write about the War on Terror, military industrial complex and the survival of our beloved republic.

You can connect with me via (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Follow me on Facebook (Samantha L. Bowden) and Twitter @SammieBowden

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.