An April vote by the Lubbock City Council—where a conflict of interest involving Mayor Dan Pope is alleged—is now dominating the mayoral race.

Earlier this month, KCBD-TV in Lubbock reported Mayor Dan Pope had apologized after citizens raised concerns regarding his April vote to approve a controversial tax incentives package. The project, supported by city council, includes a restaurant in which Pope’s wife is an investor. After pushback from local media, Pope apologized to the public for his participation in the vote.

“I’m pretty conscious of that,” Pope said when asked by KCBD whether he felt his failure to file a conflict of interest form related to the vote was illegal. “That’s probably why I’ll beat myself up about it … because I have a pretty clear understanding of that. And so, I—to our voters, to our taxpayers—I apologize, and I trust that they’ll … I hope that they’ll accept that and that we’ll move forward.”

Despite Pope’s apology, criticism continues as the mayor faces a hotly contested re-election fight against musician Stephen Sanders. In a statement to Texas Scorecard, Sanders echoed recent comments that Pope’s conflict of interest allegations are indicative of Lubbock’s city government heading in the wrong direction, adding that citizens “pay the ultimate price.”

“There is a huge lack of transparency, and because of this lack of transparency, the citizens pay the ultimate price with their tax money,” Sanders said. “It’s not okay, not one bit.”

Pope and Sanders will face off for the seat in the November 3 election. Early voting begins on October 13.

Thomas Warren

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