Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, who is seeking a second term in 2019, has drawn her first official opponent heading into May’s municipal election.

Claudette Smith, a local political activist and paralegal, announced her candidacy for mayor at the Amarillo city council meeting on Tuesday. She told the Amarillo Pioneer that while she is “thankful” for Nelson’s service to the city, she is disappointed in the city council’s actions and “wholeheartedly disagree[s] with what they are doing.”

Smith has been involved in city government from a citizen activist standpoint and often addressed city council on a variety of issues, ranging from homeless ordinances to misuse of special sales tax revenue. Smith also filed a lawsuit against the city in early 2018 alleging multiple violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act and is seeking an injunction to temporarily halt the construction of the tax-funded ballpark downtown.

Nelson also made her fair share of headlines in 2018, most notably when she called for the removal of resident Kip Billups from council chambers after he and others violated the city council’s so-called “clapping ban.” Billups, who was applauding a speaker during open forum, was singled out amongst others clapping and, after his removal, proceeded to be arrested and charged with disruption of a meeting.

More candidates are expected to come forward to challenge Nelson, according to the Amarillo Pioneer. The filing period for candidates begins January 16 and ends February 15.

For more information about Smith’s announcement and other Amarillo news, please visit

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.