After businessmen Alex Fairly and Jerry Hodge unveiled their proposal for a second Amarillo Civic Center bond election for the May 2021 ballot, Amarillo’s mayor is expressing her opposition to the idea.

Last week, after Fairly and Hodge unveiled the $110 million “Amarillo Plan” to fund construction of a new downtown arena and renovations to the existing Cal Farley Coliseum in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, Mayor Ginger Nelson issued a statement saying after the defeat of Proposition A in November, she is not in support of placing a second bond on the ballot in May.

“The voter response to the Civic Center improvement project was made clear in November,” Nelson said in a statement to KFDA-TV.

The overwhelming message I received from numerous discussions with citizens was that the time was not right, and we needed to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome citizen feedback on the Civic Center project, and when it’s appropriate, we’ll be more than happy to revisit the project and see what improvements and options we have. For now, my focus is on our local COVID-19 response, vaccine distribution, and continued economic stability for our local businesses.

The improvement project placed on the ballot in November, which had been supported by Nelson and members of the city council, would have funded a number of downtown projects, including renovations to the Amarillo Civic Center. That bond issue would have carried a 39 percent tax increase with its passage, funding the majority of a $319 million spending package.

Voters defeated Proposition A by a healthy margin—62 percent to 38 percent.

However, the leaders behind the new plan say Nelson’s opposition to the bond election is not based on fiscal concern, but rather on political motives.

“The mayor I’ve met with several times, and she is totally opposed to it for political reasons,” Hodge said. “She’s getting political advice that you don’t want to run for office at the same time as a bond election. I understand where she’s coming from, but she’s getting bad political advice.”

So far, Nelson has drawn two opponents in the race for mayor: paralegal Claudette Smith and self-employed candidate Jeffrey McElreath.

Either way, the Amarillo City Council will have the final say on whether Fairly and Hodge’s plan will go on the ballot in May. Voters can learn more about the plan here.

Thomas Warren

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