I’m excited to cast my ballot next week in the May 4th municipal election for Amarillo. Let me tell you why.
This year, voters should feel blessed with a robust, dynamic, diverse group of candidates on the May 4th ballot. We have incumbents, former elected officials, newcomers, activists, business owners, consultants, and everyone in between running. I have heard lots of disagreement among voters this year about the candidates and I completely understand, but regardless of a person’s feelings on a particular candidate or group of candidates, it must be noted that voters have lots of unique choices on May 4th.
Over the past few months, I have been lucky to cover the elections for various council seats and school board seats in Amarillo, while Noah Dawson has done the honors for City Council Place 3. What I have noticed is that some candidates are engaged and excited, while others seem to be sitting back on the sidelines, not engaging with voters. I have to give extra credit to candidates like Hayden Pedigo, who I have not seen miss a single forum or campaign event. I also have to give credit to incumbent Elaine Hays, who actually has taken the time to answer some questions from voters and actually answered our own candidate questionnaire, being the only incumbent to do so. Her participation was greatly appreciated.
Our voters have many options on May 4, not just for the Amarillo City Council, but also for races like those dealing with the Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees. Don’t forget the $89.2 million Amarillo College bond that will also be on the ballot.
It should be safe to say that voters have many reasons to show up for this election.
Now, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for this May 4th, and neither will our editorial board. I have my picks and I’m sure you have yours or you are coming close to finalizing your picks. I don’t care if you are planning to vote for Kip Billups, Claudette Smith, or Ginger Nelson on election day. The main thing is you should turn out to vote.
Numbers out of Potter County in 2017’s municipal election put voter turnout at between 12 and 13 percent. Meanwhile, almost 44 percent of Potter County voters turned out to vote in the 2018 midterm election. There should be no difference in the enthusiasm, based on what’s at stake in this election. This election will decide the future of Amarillo, Amarillo ISD, and Amarillo College for between the next two to six years, depending on the entity. This election will also decide the fate of a proposed tax increase for Amarillo College voters, which local taxpayers certainly will feel. I would argue that May 4th might even be a more important election for local voters than the previous November election.
I will be early voting on Monday because I am excited about this election. I am excited about the future of Amarillo and I am excited about the voters’ chance - YOUR chance - to make a difference in the fate and the future of Amarillo.
Please don’t let groups like Amarillo Matters dictate how you will vote on May 4th. Don’t let the fancy yard signs distract you. Get informed about this election and the candidates running and vote. If you don’t vote, you will be letting your chance to have a say on the future of Amarillo slip away.
Early voting begins on April 22nd and will run through April 30th, with election day slated for May 4th. Pick a day, make a plan, and show up to vote. The future of Amarillo depends on you.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief