Byram's political icon returns in a new capacity

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    BYRAM-Ask anyone, and they'll say he's a no-nonsense kind of guy; that's Richard Bowe. Ask anyone and they'll say he usually means what he says; that's Richard Bowe. So when Byram Township's new municipal court judge says he can't wait to get out of bed each day to practice law, you better believe that's Richard Bowe. "It's been over 20 years since I've had any spare time," said Bowe, who began serving his first term behind the bench Jan. 1, after gaining approval from the Byram Township Council. "Law is my hobby. I love to practice law." Bowe, who replaces the retired David Jubanowsky, is far from a newcomer to Byram circles. The township resident of nearly 30 years spent 16 of those as mayor during the '80s and '90s when he was elected to four consecutive terms. "I don't believe people in government should treat it as a lifetime position," said Bowe, who helped put viable plans for the ShopRite plaza on the drawing board and oversaw construction of sewers off Route 206 and the eventual increase in the town's commercial tax base while in office. Prior to his election as mayor, Bowe was instrumental in Byram's successful adoption of a referendum to change to its current township council form of government. Even then, Bowe was willing to offer legal advice to anyone who'd listen. Eskil "Skip" Danielson was one who did. The current Byram mayor remembers Bowe providing pro bono advice to the upstart ad hoc committee determined to alter Byram's course of government. "I remember him (Bowe) standing in the back of the room during hearings," said Danielson, a longtime resident and chief of police at the time. "I said, ‘Find out who this fellow is and find out if he can be of any assistance to us.' " Bowe has made a name for himself around other municipalities as well, serving as council for the East Hanover and Guttenberg governing bodies in New Jersey. He said he will continue his private practice in North Bergen, even though his municipal court appointment will put limits on the proceedings he can manage. "This is an opportunity to be involved in a different side of justice," said Bowe. "But, I've hit the ground running. I've practiced in municipal court so I knew what to expect." In his first month on the job, Bowe said he has been hearing from 50 to 70 cases two days each week. "He's (Bowe) fair and honest," said John Gutwerk, Byram chief of police. "We have a busy court and police department. I'm sure that he'll give the town a 100 percent effort." Danielson said he and Bowe, who managed the mayor's election campaign, "have run into larger heads over issues" during the years, but that the judge will serve the township well in his new position. "He's no-nonsense," said Danielson. "And, he's got sensitivity to the township and an extensive amount of experience in the judicial system." Danielson said Bowe's first term expires in October, which will allow people to get used to him and the new judge to get comfortable in the position. "I'd like to be known as someone who treated everyone fairly and made the best decisions based on the facts presented to me," said Bowe, who is married 35 years with two daughters. "I feel very strongly about that."