Last year, it seemed like you couldn’t escape the news of the U.S. Senate race in Texas. Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke, and Neal Dikeman eventually battled out to a narrow Cruz victory, but the whole contest made Texas into a rare marquee national state, and launched Beto O’Rourke into possible presidential contendership for 2020.
While we are a few months passed from that heavily-contested election, it might be beneficial to take a look back to November 2018 to find a key lesson that should be remembered by candidates heading into the May 2019 elections.
The notable thing talking to voters of Cruz, O’Rourke, and Dikeman was a sense of purpose in their vote. It was difficult to find a voter who cast a ballot for one of the three “just because.” Instead, every voter you talked to on the street would usually cite a specific reason, with some being more valid than others. Still, Cruz voters would talk about issues like the Second Amendment, O’Rourke voters would talk about things like immigration, and Dikeman voters would talk about things like the national debt. These are just some examples, but every voter had a reason for their vote in 2018, it seemed.
Looking at local elections in Amarillo, it seems like that is the thing missing. There doesn’t seem to be a real sense of purpose created by any of the candidates. Each candidate, obviously, will have their own bases, but very few have been crafting a real mission statement. This is also true in 2019, but may be due to the fact that most of the candidates running today are incumbents. Looking at the current City Council, I find it hard to believe there is any item prioritized by the group of five that truly excites voters.
Take the ballpark, for example. The vast majority of the heavy lifting on that issue was done by the previous City Council. Road repairs? The last Council. Public safety bonds? The last City Council. So far, it seems the only real accomplishments made by the current City Council include shutting down the chipping sites, only to reopen two, and promoting a general lack of concern at City Council meetings. I mean, everyone criticized Paul Harpole’s actions during meetings, but at least his City Councils actually recorded public comments.
Meanwhile, the challengers have talked about issues like trash. The challengers should consider offering bold solutions to the trash problems, as well as to issues like Animal Management & Welfare problems, and increasing crime in Amarillo. The same old talking points are not what Amarillo wants or needs right now. Look at 2018, and you will see each of the three candidates brought a unique approach to the issues on the minds of voters. Approaching issues from a new way could go a long way in showing knowledge and understanding of major problems, as well as ideas for ways to solve the problems.
We have a few weeks left of candidate filings in Amarillo. If you have ever considered running for office, I would encourage you to take to plunge this year. But, regardless, Amarillo candidates need to begin crafting their messages like the candidates in 2018. Voters can get excited, but they have to have a reason to go to the polls. If you are running for office, make sure you give them a reason this May.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief