In a 1-page press release, the 51-year-old Fowler said “After a great deal of consideration and input from family, friends and supporters, I am publicly announcing that I am running for reelection as Upshur County Judge.
“While many of my supporters have encouraged me to run for a different office, many more have asked that I continue to serve as county judge. These supporters have helped me understand that there is still work for me to do and service to provide as Upshur County Judge.”
The only other candidate to announce so far for Fowler’s post is attorney Ronnica Ridgeway, who plans to challenge him in the Republican primary.
In a brief telephone interview Monday with The Mirror, the judge said that “One of the main reasons I have decided to stay is all four (county) commissioners have asked me to. . . That was a big factor in my decision.”
He declined to comment for publication on what other office some of his supporters asked him to seek.
Asked about his goals for another term, Fowler said a major one is replacing the county’s computer software. He said choosing a vendor for that and implementing the change will take about two years.
He pledged to also work on procuring a state grant for the long-planned historical renovation of the 76-year-old county courthouse. The state has provided no funding for that for the 2-year period through 2015, but the county will see if the state provides monies that year—and Upshur officials will reapply for grant funds, Fowler said.
In addition, the judge said, “we’re going to work to continue to improve (the) road and bridge” operations, which he said have made “great progress.”
In his press release, Fowler said “At times my term as County Judge has been challenging, but it has also been deeply rewarding and full of accomplishments. I have been blessed to serve with many great public servants.
“I count among them 11 County Commissioners, four County Clerks, numerous Deputy County Clerks, two tax assessor collectors, an amazing County Treasurer (Myra Harris), a remarkable Sheriff (Anthony Betterton), and countless other county employees that make our system of government work everyday for the citizens of Upshur County.
“It has been wonderful to work with the current Commissioners Court. While we may agree to disagree at times, we are never disagreeable and treat each other with the highest respect.
“This proved especially true earlier in the year when the Commissioners Court and all county departments had to cooperate and work closely together to solve a budget issue that had been created by the previous County Auditor.
“With careful planning and preparation, the county budget has proven to be efficient and effective. Even with the challenges of soaring fuel costs, health insurance, inflation and the loss of revenue sources, we have only had one tax increase in 11 years.”
In addition, Fowler said, “The implementation of the Unit Road System has also been a struggle over the years. But with hard work on the part of an effective Commissioners Court, we now have a county road and bridge department that is led by a remarkable Road Administrator (Andy Jordan) and efficient, hard working road and bridge employees.
“I am also proud of the work that has been accomplished in the County Court,” Fowler’s statement continued. “With the help of local and area lawyers, I have been able to dispose of thousands of criminal cases, hundreds of probate matters and countless guardianships.
“I believe that any litigant, defendant, juror or attorney, who has appeared in my Court, would confirm that I have always attempted to be firm but fair in all matters I have presided over as County Judge.”
The statement concluded, “Upshur County is a wonderful place. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to grow up here, live here, raise my family here, work here and serve here,” said Fowler, who is also an attorney maintaining a private law practice in Gilmer. “I look forward to another term with our current Commissioners Court and taking on the challenges that we still face.”