N.C. State football star Donald Bowens Jr. to run for St. Pete City Council
Image via Donald Bowens

Donald Bowens
Bowens is running on a platform to create economic opportunity for all, enhance affordable housing, particularly for the city’s most vulnerable residents, and to establish robust access to youth programs.

Donald Bowens Jr., a former wide receiver for North Carolina State University (N.C. State), is running for St. Petersburg City Council in District 7, which covers parts of the Southside including Childs Park and Campbell Park.

Bowens is running for the seat currently held by John Muhammad, who was appointed in late 2022 after former District 7 Council member, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, came under scrutiny for violating residency requirements after moving out of her district. Muhammad has not yet filed to run for election to the seat, but is expected to do so.

Bowens is a graduate of St. Pete High School, where he excelled as a football player, and later attended N.C. State on an athletic scholarship.

He was inducted into St. Pete High’s Hall of Fame in 2022. At N.C. State, he earned recognition as a Top Newcomer to the school’s football program.

After graduation, Bowens returned to St. Pete where he now works in health care management, including former roles as director of operations at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, HCA Florida Northside Hospital and HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital.

Bowens also is a youth coach and director of his family’s charitable foundation, The Melville Foundation.

Bowens is running on a platform to create economic opportunity for all, enhance affordable housing, particularly for the city’s most vulnerable residents, and to establish robust access to youth programs.

“Growing up in subsidized housing, I understand firsthand the affordable housing crisis our city faces today with rising rent costs and mortgage rates,” Bowens said.

He is embracing his athletic history in his first bid for elected office, noting his experience with the historic gas plant district.

“Walking the bridge over I-175 from James Park to Campbell Park, I truly grew up in the shadow of the stadium,” Bowens said. “It was a tale of the haves and have-nots. We had pro sports in our backyard, while we struggled just blocks away. It showed me from an early age that athletics could lead to a brighter future.”

But he acknowledges sports may not be the answer for every kid growing up in St. Pete.

“I want to take my mission of helping children and families in our underserved and underrepresented communities to the next level,” he said.

Bowens is also running as an inclusive candidate, promising to be an ally for all in the community, regardless of a person’s background.

“We have seen a rise in crime overall, especially hate crimes, anti-semitism, anti-LGBTQIA+ attacks, and xenophobia in our society,” Bowens said. “We must make it clear that hatred has no home in St. Petersburg. We are all human first. From an early age, so many individuals from different walks of life supported me to make me the person I am today. It is my duty to repay the favor.”

While Muhammad has not yet filed to run for the seat, Bowens will face at least one challenger who has strong name recognition in the district. Wengay Newton, who previously served District 7 on City Council and was a one-term state Representative, is also running.

Newton filed to run in October and, as of the end of December, had raised $1,000. Bowens, having just filed, has not posted any fundraising activity. His first report won’t be due until April 10, which will cover contributions and expenditures from January 1 through March 31.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].



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