The Amarillo Pioneer

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Candidate Comparison: Amarillo City Council Place 1

Candidate Comparison: Amarillo City Council, Place 1

FROM LEFT: Elaine Hays (Incumbent), Hayden Pedigo (Challenger), Rich Herman (Challenger), Jay Kirkman (Challenger)  Photos by Campaign, Panhandle Primate, Campaign, KAMR-TV

FROM LEFT: Elaine Hays (Incumbent), Hayden Pedigo (Challenger), Rich Herman (Challenger), Jay Kirkman (Challenger)

Photos by Campaign, Panhandle Primate, Campaign, KAMR-TV

We have asked candidates running for various local offices to answer questions for our Voter Guide. While full responses are available at AmarilloVotes.com, we are offering you shortened versions in “Candidate Comparisons” ahead of the May 4th election. Each response below came directly from the candidate’s questionnaire and are unedited.


Elaine Hays (Incumbent)

Occupation: Private Wealth Manager

Do you support repairing or rebuilding the Thompson Park pool, and if so, how do you plan to pay for the project? If not, why?

“Based on structural review of Thompson Park pool, the current above ground pool cannot be repaired. The neighborhoods most impacted by closing Thompson Park pool need to be the key drivers of whether to rebuild a new pool or replace it with a different outdoor, water-related facility. All options for how to pay for the project need to be considered, including the possibility of a public/private partnership for raising funds. Currently, there is a movement by citizens to consider options and I plan to be involved.”

What should the future be for the Civic Center complex?

“Our current Civic Center has served us well for 50 years but is not adequate to move us forward in the future. If we as a community want to compete for new trade shows and entertainment opportunities (as well as keeping current users), we must address the inadequacies of our current facility. City Council has appointed an independent, five members executive committee to meet with current users as well as evaluate requirements by new organizers we would like to attract. This process will identify the scope of an appropriate expansion. As one of the Council representatives to this committee, I have attended several days of meetings to gather information and discuss possible opportunities. As more information is gathered, additional community input will be requested and required before moving forward with a design plan that would eventually be presented to voters for approval.”

What should the City of Amarillo's role be in preventing homelessness in Amarillo? How do you plan to implement that role?

“We as a community can address how we want to respond to homelessness, but the city cannot prevent homelessness, any more than we can prevent mental illness or alcoholism. We currently have over 30 organizations that provide services for our sheltered and unsheltered homeless community. The city works with these organizations to provide guidelines to address public health and safety issues for them and the rest of our citizens. The city recently implemented the Coming Home program which provides vouchers for housing chronically homeless individuals. The program requires participants to be accountable and provides ongoing supportive care to help with their transition to housing in hopes of a permanent solution. This is a new program but I am very encouraged at the prospect of meeting numerous objectives that we have been unable to achieve through other programs.”

In what cases would you support the issue of certificates of obligation to incur debt for municipal projects? Please explain.

“I would only support certificates of obligation to incur debt for the sole use of improvements to infrastructure. The city currently holds too much debt than it can afford and further debt should only be incurred for projects that will absolutely benefit the residents of Amarillo.”

In 2018, the Amarillo City Council voted to add more red light cameras to Amarillo streets. At a time when Governor Abbott is pledging to ban the use of the cameras in the state, do you believe this contract was a wise investment? Why or why not?

“Adding additional red-light cameras in the city did not require any upfront investment. Fees collected from violations are shared with the operator and the state, and any remaining collections are strictly required to be spent on traffic safety. If the state determines that red light cameras are unconstitutional, the city would implement the exit clause provided in our contract, which simply requires notice.”

Would you support the establishment of single-member districts for Amarillo City Council elections? Please explain.

“Prior to our current at-large election process, Amarillo had a ‘ward’ system, which was a form of single-member districts. Amarillo was one of the first cities to pioneer a change due to the issues related to single-member districts. One of the largest complaints of the former system was that it created ongoing divisions as neighborhoods competed with each other for resources. With a single-member district system, you are in effect giving council members that do not represent your specific neighborhood permission to overlook your needs. With an at-large system, every council member and the Mayor must answer to any citizen in the community regardless of where they live, and therefore I believe it is a superior form of local government.”


Hayden Pedigo (Challenger)

Occupation: Credit Union Supervisor

Do you support repairing or rebuilding the Thompson Park pool, and if so, how do you plan to pay for the project? If not, why?

“I 100% support rebuilding the Thompson Park pool. That pool is not only beneficial to the North Heights neighborhood but also beneficial to the entire city. I believe the pool already should have been in the city budget to rebuild, it shouldn't even have to be brought to a vote. This would be the type of thing most people would be ok paying for through our tax dollars.”

What should the future be for the Civic Center complex?

“I think Before we consider renovating the Civic Center we need to take a look at what all of the other downtown "improvements" have done to our finances. How much money do we owe for these projects? How will we pay for them? Who has profited from them? These questions need to be answered before we can consider any new projects. We need a full, fair and open investigation into those questions before we can even think about spending more money.”

What should the City of Amarillo's role be in preventing homelessness in Amarillo? How do you plan to implement that role?

“The council would see great improvement if they stopped viewing Amarillo's homeless population as just a cosmetic issue and start viewing it as the human issue it is. Larger cities such as Salt Lake City have taken very progressive measures to help the homeless with housing first programs that have done extremely well. Instead of just trying to keep moving the issue along and ignore it we could approach it head on looking for solutions other cities have used with positive results.”

In what cases would you support the issue of certificates of obligation to incur debt for municipal projects? Please explain.

“Using ‘Certificates of Obligation’ are a way for government to in-debt future generations without them even knowing about it. It is the worst example of closed-door government, and I am completely opposed to the practice. Let the people decide on all major spending.”

In 2018, the Amarillo City Council voted to add more red light cameras to Amarillo streets. At a time when Governor Abbott is pledging to ban the use of the cameras in the state, do you believe this contract was a wise investment? Why or why not?

“Not even remotely a wise investment. Red light cameras are not a safer option and the city having to pay a company out of Arizona to issue the tickets along with paying a collections agency to send notices out to anyone that isn't paying is a massive waste of money. We need to ditch the cameras.”

Would you support the establishment of single-member districts for Amarillo City Council elections? Please explain.

“100% yes. With Amarillo sitting at about 200,000 residents who make up numerous unique cultures and backgrounds I don't think our city government can accurately represent all of those different needs. Also, with at large voting it has made it far easier for candidates to win on a financial basis utilizing heavy campaign advertising in certain areas of town along with the low voter turnout they rely on to win elections just on the input of one part of town.”


Richard Herman (Challenger)

Occupation: Businessman, U.S. Army Retired, Former Potter County Justice of the Peace

Do you support repairing or rebuilding the Thompson Park pool, and if so, how do you plan to pay for the project? If not, why?

“I absolutely support either repairing the current pool or building a new one, which I'm kind of biased on the subject because of fond memories of swimming there as a kid.”

What should the future be for the Civic Center complex?

“This is an outstanding question, and honestly there is not enough daylight to answer. I think we need to do something but it would require some major decisions to be made, and after our city has spent all the monies on this Ball Park I'm just not sure were in a financial posture to make the adjustments needed at this time.”

What should the City of Amarillo's role be in preventing homelessness in Amarillo? How do you plan to implement that role?

“I believe the way we were handling it all before this council took charge was moving in the right direction. So I would call Juliana and get her back on point moving us in the right direction.”

In what cases would you support the issue of certificates of obligation to incur debt for municipal projects? Please explain.

“This would depend on the amount because it seems certificates are designed to expedite small items, and emergencies and can be an abusive method of cutting voters out if not used correctly.”

In 2018, the Amarillo City Council voted to add more red light cameras to Amarillo streets. At a time when Governor Abbott is pledging to ban the use of the cameras in the state, do you believe this contract was a wise investment? Why or why not?

“I don't think we should have red light cameras at all because there are to many flaws in the system, and if people new the law they would understand their hard to enforce.”

Would you support the establishment of single-member districts for Amarillo City Council elections? Please explain.

“I believe in single member districts because it gives people someone to hold accountable and communicate with in their area because what's good for the southwestern side of Amarillo may not concern the folks on the northeastern.”


Jay U. Kirkman, III (Challenger)

Occupation: Business Consultant

Do you support repairing or rebuilding the Thompson Park pool, and if so, how do you plan to pay for the project? If not, why?

“Absolutely yes, there is funds in the city budget to construct a new pool.”

What should the future be for the Civic Center complex?

“We have to modernize it to continue to compete for convention and trade shows against other competing cities.”

What should the City of Amarillo's role be in preventing homelessness in Amarillo? How do you plan to implement that role?

“The City should partner with private and church groups to improve services. The old St Anthony hospital is a great location to have a great homeless complex.”

In what cases would you support the issue of certificates of obligation to incur debt for municipal projects? Please explain.

“Only for major city project works.”

In 2018, the Amarillo City Council voted to add more red light cameras to Amarillo streets. At a time when Governor Abbott is pledging to ban the use of the cameras in the state, do you believe this contract was a wise investment? Why or why not?

“I am absolutely opposed to red light camera big brother.”

Would you support the establishment of single-member districts for Amarillo City Council elections? Please explain.

“Yes, at large is out dated and unfair.”

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Candidate Comparison: Amarillo City Council Place 2

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