While the use of red-light cameras has been a controversial topic across the state and has even drawn the attention of lawmakers in Austin, the incumbents running for re-election to the Amarillo City Council have unanimously declared support for the cameras.

Recently, during the Amarillo League of Women Voters candidate forum for the upcoming May 4 municipal elections, the candidates running for seats on the Amarillo City Council were offered a chance to address their thoughts on red-light cameras. Incumbents Elaine Hays, Freda Powell, and Howard Smith all declared support for the program. The question was not posed to Mayor Ginger Nelson or Councilman Eddy Sauer, who did not attend the forum.

“We studied the red-light cameras, and I know there may be a law passed to eliminate that, but for now, they are allowed,” Smith said. “It’s been shown it reduces traffic accidents, so I would not support [removing] them at this time.”

Councilwoman Powell also declared her support for the cameras, citing safety concerns on Amarillo roads.

“I am for the red-light cameras … I am for them because of safety,” Powell said.

Red-light cameras have been controversial in past Amarillo elections; in 2015, several city council candidates discussed sending the cameras to the ballot, although their efforts to do so were unsuccessful. The Amarillo City Council also voted unanimously last year to add additional cameras to Amarillo streets, sparking a backlash from some.

Lawmakers in Austin have also taken notice of the controversy surrounding the devices. House Bill 1631 has been filed, which would eliminate the use of the cameras in the state, and both of Amarillo’s state representatives have signed on in support of the bill.

Thomas Warren

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