“Abracadabra and alakazam!”
That might as well be the campaign slogan for nearly every politician who runs for re-election. Politicians provide big promises when they are running, then, once it’s time to run for re-election, they try to pull a rabbit out of the hat to make you forget their failures and shortcomings over the previous term.
This practice of magical campaigning is common all over the country, but seems to be the norm in Amarillo too. Whether it has been Paul Harpole, Kel Seliger, or any one of a laundry list of politicians from previous City Councils to school boards and more, politicians up for re-election often hope their magic tricks will break your focus from the things they said during election time, the promises on which they failed to deliver, or the scandals which they have generated.
Mayor Ginger Nelson and the current City Council seem to have already been trending this way. Take for example Nelson’s claim that this City Council reopened the chipping sites during her campaign speech last week. Nelson tried to take credit for the chipping sites being reopened, while skipping over the fact that her City Council is the one that mandated the closing of those sites. Or, look at Nelson’s claims that she will promote education to prevent high school dropouts. It’s a grand claim, but would have to be accomplished by a miracle, considering that the City of Amarillo has nothing to do with setting policy for the Amarillo Independent School District.
Also, remember the promises Nelson made in 2017, when she was running for her first term as Mayor. At that time, Nelson promised to “put citizens above politics” and “establish a job creation task force.” So far, Nelson has failed to deliver on either of these promises. For those who question her “citizens above politics” promise, I encourage you to watch public comment at City Council meetings and see how Nelson treats citizens who disagree with her. Oh, wait, her City Council stopped broadcasting public comment because they didn’t want to give a platform to those who habitually complain, to paraphrase City staff. So much for that promise.
Looking at another Councilmember who has announced his re-election bid, Howard Smith has also brought out his own magic tricks. Smith spoke last week about supporting public safety at his campaign announcement, saying the public voted to support public safety, but failed to disclose that it was the previous City Council that put a public safety bond on the ballot, and not his own Council. It’s also interesting to see Smith take credit for what he sees as his accomplishments on public safety, when the FBI revealed violent crime levels rising in Amarillo during the year which included Smith’s first term.
So, looking ahead, I expect to see even more magic tricks attempted by our City Council. But, while Ginger Nelson and her buddies attempt to pull off David Copperfield-esque tricks, make sure you don’t get carried away by the glitz and glamour. Voters are smarter than what Nelson and Amarillo Matters give them credit for, so it’s important that all voters in Amarillo get informed and vote this May.
Don’t let Ginger Nelson and the City Council pull a rabbit out of the hat this May. Let’s send a message and show them that voters deserve better than politicians who tout grand promises and never deliver.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief