The following are the unedited responses from Treva Harper, candidate for Amarillo City Council Place 2. Harper is facing incumbent Freda Powell in the May 4th general election.
What is your educational background? Please list any degrees earned, and institutions attended. You may also list any professional certifications.
High school diploma, 1 year college, ServeSafe Certificate (food service), TABC Alcohol server's certificate, and self education on a variety of topics.
What is your occupation?
What is your age?
How many years have you lived in Amarillo?
Would you support raising taxes to pay for basic infrastructure improvements? Why or why not?
As much as is possible, no. There should not be a need to raise taxes for basic services and duties of the city government. Any new taxes should be voted on with transparency on where they money will be spent and full disclosure of the plan for the funds.
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?
Yes, we can pay for it by using the funds currently spent on the SW of town for Community Development. If we are truly developing our community with the money slated for community development, it should be used city wide and not only on specific neighborhoods.
Do you support the current City Council's decision to change the regular meeting times to 1PM? If so, why? If not, what would be a better time to hold the meetings?
No, it makes it hard for the majority of our citizens to attend the meetings. I would like to return the meeting time to early evening. 6-7 pm would be a good time, in my opinion.
Do you believe current petitioning requirements are too strict for citizens looking to place an item on the ballot? If so, what would be a better threshold?
As I have not gone through the process it difficult for me to say exactly how I feel about it. That said, I do think the process should be simple and clear cut.
Do you believe more City Council oversight is needed for municipal departments? Why or why not?
Oversight is a good thing. So, yes we need more oversight and transparency. Given the trust the citizens of Amarillo puts in our government departments, it is important that the city does all it can to deserve that trust.
What should the future be for the Civic Center complex?
I would like to see it renovated, however, given all the other developments that have been begun downtown it may have to be delayed until the funding is available. It should have been renovated before the ballpark was built. Since that did not happen it may need to be postponed unfortunately. It looks like our current city council wants to have it paid for with a bond. I do not like the idea of taxing the good people of this town any more than they are now. So not really wanting to do that if at all possible.
Since 2017, major musical acts like Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Metallica, Thomas Rhett, and Chris Young have played concerts in Lubbock. Meanwhile, multiple artists have passed Amarillo to perform at venues in other cities. How can Amarillo attract major concerts, such as these, as well as conventions, and other major events?
It would be easier to attract these kind of events with an updated or new Civic Center. Which is why it is a shame that the MPEV (Ballpark) was built before the civic center was addressed. Of course, the ballpark is supposed to be an MPEV, but not sure how well that will work out. So that takes us back to the civic center, that will depend on how the funding can be found to pay for it.
In 2017, the Amarillo City Council voted to increase fees for citizens seeking to obtain public information. Would you have supported this vote? If you were a member of the Council at the time of the vote, how did you vote on this item and why?
I would not have supported this or voted for it. Transparency is vital to honest representation of the people of our city. Increasing the costs can make it prohibitive for some to access the information they are due.
Would you support moving Amarillo's City Council election dates to November of even-numbered years? Please explain.
While I haven't given it much thought, I have to say I do like having the election at a separate time from the national elections. This gives our local candidates more opportunity to reach out to people without competing with the national candidates for the attention of the voters. However, I am open to discussion on the topic and would prefer to let the voters decide it.
The Amarillo City Council made national headlines in 2018, when a citizen was arrested after clapping in a public meeting. What are your thoughts on this incident, and do you believe the ensuing events were an overreach of the City Council's authority?
I think the mayor was making an example of the person they arrested. This is a subtle form of intimidation and is definitely an overreach of authority and potentially a violation of that persons rights.
How would you ensure all citizens have an equal chance to serve on a municipal board, regardless of their political connections?
There should be no political connections that facilitate any appointment to a board. Persons seeking an appointment should have their opportunity to serve on a board equally.
Would you support establishing a "no-kill" animal shelter in Amarillo? Why or why not?
Yes, there are multiple examples of cities that have switched to a "no-kill" policy with success. With a solid spay and neuter program coupled with fostering, it should be possible to attain homes and placement for a large majority of pets without adversely affecting the population numbers.
Do you support the City of Amarillo's curbside cart program? Why or why not?
I do not support it, but it is already established. I would like to review it and work out a way that those who do not want it can opt out of it while leaving it available to those who are pleased with it. It is the best approach I can think of given that the funds have already been spent on the equipment needed for the program.
What should the City of Amarillo's role be in preventing homelessness in Amarillo? How do you plan to implement that role?
While homelessness is a complex issue with diverse contributing factors, there are things our city can do to improve the situation for many. Working with churches and charitable organizations is one avenue to helping the homeless. Prevention comes with many issues and some that the city can work on is improving the employment opportunities for all of the citizens. Protecting our citizens from trafficking, abuse and other crimes can improve mental health and prevent some cases. I am very interested in adopting a Housing First policy. Housing first coupled with apprenticeships could potentially help many get back on their feet. A comprehensive and innovated approach is needed without a “one size fits all” solution.
The City Council recently voted to purchase a warehouse on Johnson Street for storage of Civic Center items. The purchase attracted controversy due to an alleged conflict of interest in the deal. Do you believe this purchase was a wise investment by the City of Amarillo? Please explain.
Any purchases made by the city must be free from conflicts of interest and should not benefit anyone or be in excess of what the transaction would be if sold on the market. There is no reason for any property to sell to our city at a different value than it would sell on the open market. Persons on the city council should always remain free of any conflict of interest in such a purchase.
Would you support reforming the Amarillo municipal court?
I have not given it much consideration at this time. However, am willing to review and see if changes need to be made.
In what cases would you support the issue of certificates of obligation to incur debt for municipal projects? Please explain.
They should only be made in the case of an emergency not for projects simply because the city cannot afford it. They should be avoided as much as possible. Debt is never good.
Should any future municipally owned parking garages be constructed in the vicinity of City Hall and the Civic Center? Why or why not?
There is not enough room downtown for all the things they want to build there. City hall has already given up its parking for the ballpark. Additionally, there are private contractors and companies who could build and manage such a facility. I would have to see information that displays the need for the city to spend the money on structures that private businesses can most likely do better and probably cheaper than the city could. I tend to think the city has spent enough of the tax payers money on downtown development.
How would you ensure public meetings allow maximum public engagement? Please explain.
First, I would move the meeting times back to the evening. Second I would like to see if we can set up a program to allow shut-ins and otherwise disabled people to join in via the web. If live video feed is not possible then at least allow them to prerecord their comments and have them played during the meetings.
In your view, if a tax bill for a single piece of property increases from the previous year, while the tax rate remains the same, does this constitute a tax increase? Please explain.
If the value of the property is inflated for the purpose of generating more funds for the city instead of reflecting a real value change then it is a tax. If the bill is simply higher without any legitimate reason then it is not only a hidden tax but possibly illegal too. If not illegal now, it should be.
In 2017, the City Council discussed cutting budgets for three libraries in Amarillo, while leaving the budget intact for the Downtown Library and the Southwest Library. Would you support cutting the budget for the local library system to allocate those funds for other projects? Please explain.
No, the library system should not have funding cuts so the funds can go to other projects. It is unscrupulous and deceptive. We should encourage the use of the library as a way to continue education past high school not only for college students but for those who are not attending college, for home schooled students and for the populace at large. The idea that only the SW library aside from the main branch would be exempted from this is an insult to the rest of the city as that side of town already has all the perks.
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 believe that red light cameras are unconstitutional and should not be used at all. The best thing we can do concerning them is to remove them.
Do you believe the City of Amarillo has neglected certain areas of Amarillo? Please explain.
Yes, one look at the SW side of town and compare it to any other neighborhood and you can see for yourself how out of balance things are. The closing of the Thompson park pool is a classic example of this. We must take care of the whole city if we want to attract higher paying jobs to town.
How would you propose attracting new business to Amarillo, if elected?
One way is to make the whole city receive proper attention and not just the SW side of town. Improving the whole town can keep young people from leaving and thus keep our workforce here. Having a well balanced and taken care of city can also help encourage companies to move into our city and provide good jobs for our citizens. Apprenticeships can help educate people outside of colleges and universities, thus helping our citizens become a workforce that employers are looking to hire. Would also like to have local business owners share their ideas and suggestions on how to improve in this area. Since they have established businesses they should be able to give great insights on how to start businesses and what roadblocks may exist for potential new companies that perhaps the city council may not notice on their own.
Would you support the establishment of single-member districts for Amarillo City Council elections? Please explain.
Yes, yes, and yes! I voted for it when it was on the ballot before and was very disappointed when it failed. With single member districts we can end the monopoly the SW of town has on the entire city. Each area would truly be represented.
In 2017, several current members of the Amarillo City Council promised to increase civility and "change the tone" at City Hall. Do you believe City Council meetings are more civil today than prior to this City Council's time in office? Please explain.
Civil and polite are not the same thing. They want polite and agreeable. What they have created is a hostile environment for those who disagree with them. This not only angers the populace but it shuts down communication between the council and the public. The only way to increase civility is to allow dissenting voices to be heard and to respect their opinions even when you disagree with them. As for how civil they are now, the only reason they are in anyway more civil is that there are fewer people attending and thus fewer voices being heard. Opening the lines of communication will greatly improve the tone of the meetings. There will always be dissenting voices, allowing them to be heard keeps the public from becoming aggravated and confrontational. Considering the majority opinion of the public when making decisions is the right thing to do.
What letter grade would you give the Amarillo City Council for its job performance over the past two years? Please explain.
F. for rubber stamping all of the mayors ideas.
What letter grade would you give city manager Jared Miller for his job performance over the past two years? Please explain.
F, for being the mayors lapdog.
Are you supported by Amarillo Matters or any other special interest groups?
Why should voters choose you on election day?
People should vote for me if they are tired of the elite running things in city hall. If they are tired of the rubber stamp to all of the agenda regardless of the cost to the people. They should vote for me if they want their voices heard in city Hall. They should vote for me if they want the rest of the city to get cared for and not just downtown and the SW neighborhoods. I will do my best to always think of the average citizen. I do not believe in special favors nor will I forget the struggle many families have as I have had many of the same struggles. I am from the North side of town and will do what I can to make our city whole and not just cater to the elite.