Though the races for the Amarillo City Council are barely underway, local voters can expect to see a packed ballot when they head to the polls in May.

Over the past several weeks, a number of candidates have signed on to run for Amarillo mayor and seats on the city council. With a field that now rivals the size of the total field of candidates from the 2019 election cycle, local voters will have plenty of options in several races that will pit establishment-backed candidates against grassroots contenders.

Here is a look at where the Amarillo City Council races stand today.

Incumbent Ginger Nelson launched her bid for re-election last week, campaigning on issues like continued response to COVID-19 and free internet access for all local citizens.

Nelson will face a serious challenge, with Amarillo catering company owner Michael Hunt announcing his run for mayor this week on a platform of fiscal responsibility and supporting local businesses and first responders.

Claudette Smith, a paralegal who ran for mayor in 2019, is running again.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey McElreath, a self-employed resident who launched a bid for mayor in November, dropped out of the race on Tuesday to endorse Hunt’s bid to unseat Nelson this year.

City Council Place 1
In the race for this council seat, incumbent Elaine Hays decided to not seek re-election after two terms in office. United States Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient Hobert “Gunny” Brown is running for Hays’ seat, facing opposition from construction company owner Cole Stanley.

Brown is campaigning on a platform of opposing tax increases, creating new jobs in Amarillo, and restoring trust in local government. Stanley, meanwhile, is advocating a “pro-growth culture” to support Amarillo businesses.

City Council Place 2
For City Council Place 2, incumbent Freda Powell announced her plans last week to seek a third term in office. Powell, a local mortuary manager, was first elected in 2017 with strong support from establishment political action committee Amarillo Matters.

Powell has already drawn two opponents: Joe West and Jason Foglesong.

West, an Amarillo College administrative assistant, is proposing to increase the size of the Amarillo City Council and move Amarillo to a single-member district system.

Meanwhile, Foglesong, a high school government teacher and former Potter County Republican precinct chair, is campaigning on issues such as increasing government transparency, shifting the city’s focus from downtown to other neighborhoods, and stopping excessive spending at city hall.

City Council Place 3
In the race for this seat, incumbent Eddy Sauer announced last week that he will seek a third term in office.

Sauer, a local dentist who has become known as one of Nelson’s top lieutenants on the council, has already drawn two challengers in businessman Tom Scherlen and resident Jolene Santiago.

Scherlen is the former CEO of Austin Hose, a local employer with locations across West Texas and in Kansas. Scherlen is campaigning on a platform of keeping taxes low, improving services for Amarillo residents, and increasing accessibility at city hall. Meanwhile, Santiago is campaigning on a platform of “freedom and liberties,” “power of the people,” and “truth and honesty.”

City Council Place 4
Finally, in the race for Amarillo City Council Place 4, incumbent Howard Smith is seeking a third term in office.

Smith, an Amarillo realtor, is facing a challenge from social work instructor Ali Ramos. Ramos is campaigning on a platform of expanding the size of the city council while moving the body to a single-member district election system.

Candidates and those who are interested in running for either mayor or the city council can begin filing their applications for a spot on the ballot starting today, with a filing deadline of Friday, February 12.

Election Day is May 1.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.