On a warm Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Paul Harpole sits alone on the City Council bench. His four fellow council members are in the room behind the chambers discussing how to replace Amarillo's longest serving council member. The Mayor is now giving interviews to various media sources. He's saying he's sitting here because of transparency. He said he doesn't trust the system. In order to understand what the Mayor means, we must go back to early March.
On March 2, Dr. Brian J. Eades, Amarillo's longest serving City Councilmember announced to the media that he would be resigning from his office to pursue a medical career in Colorado. Eades had been the only Councilmember to win re-election by a comfortable margin, and now he was announcing his resignation. Amarillo officials immediately went into replacement mode. They began discussing how to come to a decision for a replacement. Amarillo City Councilmember Mark Nair made it very clear that he wanted a much more open process than that which occurred in late 2014 when the sitting Council members replaced the late Jim Simms with former Commissioner Ronald Boyd. The public knew very little about how the Council decided to appoint Boyd, so Nair made a plea to Harpole to make this an open process.
The Council agreed to solicit applications from various citizens who were interested in the job. Fourteen total candidates applied. The next week, Amarillo City Council members chose five finalists from the list of fourteen potential candidates. Lisa Blake, John Ingerson, James Lowder, Sandra McCartt, and Tom Warren II were chosen. The Council was now tasked with judging the candidates by their upcoming public interviews for the seat. But, days later, a local news source began reporting that a candidate had a "potentially offensive" past on Facebook. After this "revelation", Eades began not committing to resigning, Mayor Harpole is refusing to participate in the process, and Councilmember Randy Burkett will not reveal his question for the finalists until Eades resigns.
Councilmember Mark Nair appealed to the Mayor. Nair had high hopes that the Mayor would come to the table and move forward. He offered a plan with a veto option. The Mayor disagreed. Finally, Nair may have convinced the Mayor to come to the table with a plan that includes ranking the five finalists after their interviews. Hopefully this fragile agreement will hold.
Soon the Council should interview the five finalists, and make their rankings. Councilmember Eades will not be able to vote for his replacement.
The big question now is, who will the council choose? Whoever this person may be, they will almost certainly have a tough road ahead.