Does the City Council have a platform this May? Yes.
Do they have answers to the tough questions? That’s another story.
If you listen to the incumbents talk, you will mainly hear them tout so-called “accomplishments.” In fact, Mayor Ginger Nelson has a whole webpage dedicated to her “accomplishments.” You might also hear about what supposedly needs to be done. Councilman Howard Smith talks about improving transportation, even when the City of Amarillo is merging bus routes. Councilman Eddy Sauer talks about supporting the police, even when violent crime is skyrocketing and the incumbents seem to have no intention of approving additional police funding. Then there are some points about education from a few incumbents, none of which make for a convincing argument.
All of these things were on display on Monday night.
The speeches at Monday night’s Potter-Randall Democratic Club forum were what you would expect from incumbents running for office. There was not a whole lot of substance to the speeches, but the incumbents made it sound pretty and tried to explain why they were the only five - out of a field of fourteen candidates - capable of running a city.
That was about the time the questions started coming from the audience. Then the group’s lack of understanding, knowledge, and care was on full display.
From questions about a no-kill animal shelter, to questions about basic infrastructure, to questions about meeting times, nobody seemed to want to answer anything. Many of the responses coming from the incumbents contained phrases like “I would be open to,” which serves as political speak for “it’s not going to happen, but I’m going to say this anyway because I want your vote.”
The incumbents rarely said what, if anything, they planned to do about any issue, and instead relied on fluff to once again try and sell the voters of Amarillo a false bill of goods.
The only bits of praise I can hand out for Monday’s festivities are Councilwoman Elaine Hays at least stayed around to talk to a few voters and Howard Smith was at least somewhat direct on a couple of questions. But outside of these two points, there was not much good to show from Monday’s display of contempt by the incumbents. Also, just on a side note, those two bits of praise are nothing that would make me support either individual this May.
If you want to know what this City Council will do, take a look at what it has done. It has raised taxes and fees, it has given out tax deals to special interest bankrollers, it has voted to benefit its own members, it has, on occasion, appeared to violate open meetings laws, and it has treated citizens with absolute contempt. Must I remind everyone of the photo of a citizen being arrested during a City Council meeting last year?
Monday night’s forum showed an excellent display of what this election is all about. The incumbents are all talk, up until the point they have to answer questions, then they are all about misdirection. They can say they will be “open to” something, but if I were a gambling man, I would bet those things they would be “open to” will never come true.
After Monday’s event, the only thing that I’m “open to” is electing a new City Council this May. And you better believe, I will follow through on that.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief