Voters in Amarillo ousted two incumbent school board members but sent all other incumbents on the ballot back for another term during the May 4 local elections.

In the race for Amarillo mayor, incumbent Ginger Nelson saw a decrease in support from her first run for the office in 2017 but was still able to dispatch challengers Claudette Smith and Kip Billups, winning a second term. Nelson, who was backed by several political action committees in her campaign, won 64 percent against Smith’s 25 percent and Billups’ 12 percent. Nelson previously won 79 percent of the vote in 2017, topping then-Potter County Republican Chairman James F. Lowder and photo archivist Renea Dauntes.

Down ballot, voters also returned all incumbents to the Amarillo City Council, each of whom won over 66 percent of the vote. Custodial worker Treva Harper came the closest to ousting an incumbent in the Place 2 race, winning 29 percent against incumbent Freda Powell.

At Amarillo College, voters narrowly passed an $89.2 million bond for campus improvements, with 52 percent of voters approving. Voters also returned incumbents Paul Proffer, David C. Woodburn, and Johnny Mize to the school’s board of regents, with investor Terry Hawthorne and educator Jack Westbrook falling short in that contest.

Meanwhile, voters cleaned house at the Amarillo Independent School District, ousting incumbents John Betancourt and Jim Austin. Betancourt was first elected in 2015, while Austin has served on the board since 2002. Voters also filled the open seat held by attorney F. Scott Flow, who did not seek re-election. Filling the seats on the school board will be educator Kimberly Anderson, commercial realtor Dick Ford, and Pantex advisor Alonzo Everhart.

In other school board races from across the area, Jenni Winegarner, the former political director for Congressman Mac Thornberry, won the special election for a seat on the Canyon Independent School District Board of Trustees, beating out realtor David Velasquez 71 percent to 29 percent. Voters also sent incumbents Butch Dawson and Copen Smith back for another term on the River Road Independent School District Board of Trustees, with challenger Lori Peterson winning an open seat. In Bushland, voters ousted incumbent Carrie Kirton from the school board, while re-electing incumbents Randy Boone and Eddie Fuentes. J. Shell Stewart also won the nod from voters to replace Kirton on the board.

With unofficial final results in, Potter and Randall counties reported a combined voter turnout of less than 13 percent. Over 80,000 voters were eligible between both counties to cast ballots.

Thomas Warren

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


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