An Amarillo first responder is throwing his fire helmet into the political ring in hopes of replacing an outgoing Democrat on the Potter County Commissioners Court.

Blair Schaffer, a firefighter with the Amarillo Fire Department and a small-business owner, announced his candidacy this week for the vacant Precinct 2 seat on the Potter County Commission in the upcoming March 2022 Republican primary election. The seat was most recently held by Democrat Mercy Murguia, who resigned from her seat in order to move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In an interview with Texas Scorecard, Schaffer said he decided to run for the job after feeling that Potter County residents in Precinct 2 were in need of a good representative on their county’s governing board.

“I wanted to make sure they have good representation,” Schaffer said. “I’ve lived most of my life in Potter County and worked most of my life in Potter County. I’m willing to listen to people and work with them.”

Schaffer has spent 15 years as a firefighter with the Amarillo Fire Department and is also the owner of three local businesses: Firehouse Fitness, Schaffer Farm, and Polk Street Nutrition. Schaffer and his wife also own the village of Jericho, a small deserted historical site east of Amarillo that was one of the original settlements of the Texas Panhandle.

This week’s announcement by Schaffer sets up the potential for a competitive election in 2022 to replace Murguia. Murguia was one of two Democrats on the county commission, alongside Precinct 4 Commissioner Alphonso Vaughn, who will also be up for re-election next year.

While Precinct 2 was once represented almost exclusively by Democrat elected officials, the seat has recently become more competitive. In 2014, voters elected Republican Richard Herman as the precinct’s justice of the peace over the Democrat incumbent; in 2018, they elected Herman’s Republican successor, Robert Taylor, in a competitive election over his Democratic challenger. Taylor won that election by 52-48 percent.

So far, Schaffer is the only candidate to have announced candidacy for the seat. Interested candidates can begin filing their applications for a place on the ballot on Saturday, November 13, with filing set to run through Monday, December 13.

The primary election day is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Thomas Warren

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