Was that Ginger Nelson or Paul Harpole leading the City Council meeting on Tuesday night?
At Tuesday's meeting of the Amarillo City Council, incumbent Mayor Ginger Nelson was presiding over the public comment portion of the meeting when things got heated. One resident, Mike Green, told Nelson and other members of the City Council that they had been violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by prohibiting clapping at their meetings. Audience members then began to clap to agree with Green, at which point Nelson slammed her gavel on the dais and took issue with residents sitting near the front of the room who were clapping. At one point, Nelson even had two residents escorted out for continuing to clap.
Brings back shades of Paul Harpole, don't you think?
You see, Nelson succeeded Mayor Paul Harpole to take her spot after voters gave her her first elected office in May of 2017. Harpole was notorious for using his gavel on citizens during the public comment period of the meeting, often yelling at audience members for being disruptive. Harpole also had audience members removed for outbursts.
The gavel was one of the biggest things that Amarillo residents appeared to hate about the Harpole Era at City Hall. When Nelson was running for mayor in 2017, she promised to "change the tone" at Amarillo City Council meetings. Her sentiments were also echoed by now-incumbent City Councilmembers Eddy Sauer and Howard Smith.
Little did Amarillo residents know that "changing the tone" meant continuing exactly what the current mayor had been doing.
Mayor Nelson's lack of composure last night brought back screeching memories of the Harpole days at City Hall. I guess it should come as no surprise then that Harpole actively campaigned for Nelson and actually gave her some of the funds that remained in his campaign account.
Unfortunately, Harpole's days were marked as some of the "most dysfunctional" by publications based outside of Amarillo. It seems that Nelson is falling right back into the trap of these "dysfunctional" ways.
Remember, in 2015 Harpole was nearly ousted by a salvage yard owner who spent a fraction of what Harpole did on his campaign and hardly campaigned and didn't knock on a single door. One might wonder what Nelson's future will be in 2019 if she continues in the ways of her predecessor.
The simple fact is Mayor Nelson did not show solid temperament last night and did not treat residents in a way that was becoming of the leader of the largest city in the Texas Panhandle. Nelson owes an apology to those whom she gavelled.
It appears that the hope of a real "tone change" at City Hall is vaporizing before our very eyes.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-In-Chief