The following Letter to the Editor was submitted for publication by Jerri Glover.
There has been a lot of talk on social media and in the community lately about the dissatisfaction many are feeling with the current Amarillo City Council. The anger and discontent began with the Council’s decision to enforce an ordinance that prevented camping on private property for more than 72 hours. This resulted in the dismantling of “Tent City”, a group of homeless that had assembled on a lot rented from an Amarillo resident.
Following that, there were many homeless advocates that began attending City Council meetings and using public comment time to express their anger over this issue. This led to an incident in which Mayor Nelson had one of the primary advocates removed from Council chambers for clapping after one of the public comments. The advocate was arrested outside Council chambers and the community expressed even more anger and frustration with the council.
Since then there have been suits filed regarding violations of the open meeting act and an attempt to file suit regarding the MPEV. This was in addition to the suit filed to stop the Council from enforcing the aforementioned ordinance.
Watching all this I wonder—will these same angry citizens channel their anger in the form of a vote for candidates that may oppose current council. I also wonder where these same angry citizens were during the last Municipal Election in 2017 to vote for people on the council who had integrity and had done their best to advocate on behalf of the homeless and ask serious questions about the MPEV and the handling of the details around it.
I surely hope they do. It shouldn’t be just because people are angry about these issues. It should be because they are concerned about the future of Amarillo. We need people in leadership that have an innovative vision for the future of Amarillo. A vision beyond baseball driven tourism. A vision beyond the I-40 corridor. Sadly, when these citizens didn’t show up in 2017 and Amarillo Matters ran their slate of candidates on big money right to the dias of Council Chambers, we lost a council member that had just that.
That loss cost Amarillo 15,000 jobs in the form of a company deciding that a community where something like that occurred was not the community they wanted to bring their company and jobs to. It also resulted in the mothballing of a plan for a bus that would travel non-stop from Amarillo to Lubbock on a regular schedule. The bus service would NOT have relied on tax dollars to operate and the fare an affordable $25. It resulted in the loss of an advocate for our homeless population. An advocate that was not above asking the hard questions to explore the WHY of Amarillo Homelessness and was willing to dedicate resources to solving those problems.
This is what happens when Amarillo does not get out and vote. You who are angry. You who are upset that Council is focusing on things that seem to only bring gain to themselves and those who contribute to their cause. You allow others to make decisions about what is important to YOU, YOUR city and its future. How do you prevent this in the future? You MUST educate and inform yourselves about matters beyond clapping and enforcement of one ordinance. So—I encourage you on May 22nd to vote in the runoff election. Vote in November for State and National Candidates. VOTE in 2019 when we elect the future City Council for Amarillo.