When Amarillo voters head to the polls on May 1, they will see the names of 12 people who want to earn their votes to serve on the Amarillo City Council. This year’s candidates come from all walks of life, including incumbents, political outsiders, military veterans, business owners, and more. With less than a month before early voting begins, many may still be unfamiliar with the candidates.
In order to help voters better know the candidates, we asked each candidate to summarize why they are running and their goals if elected to office. Here is a look at the candidates, based on their backgrounds and what they told us about their campaigns this year.
Amarillo City Council Place 1 (Open Seat)
Jason N. Tillery
A new resident of Amarillo, Jason Tillery is making his first bid for office after his recent retirement from the U.S. Navy. A native of Fort Worth, Tillery says he is ready to jump in and make a difference in Amarillo’s city government.
“I believe it is time for me to get off the sidelines, get in the game, and serve my community. Amarillo is a great city, but there are improvements that can be made,” Tillery said.
Identifying issues like economic development, transparency, and infrastructure improvements as his top priorities, Tillery says he believes now is the time change is needed in local government.
“I served in the Navy for 20 years, and I know how to work within a group consisting of people who may not believe the same way I do in order to bring about effective change,” Tillery said. “I want to bring that same mindset to the Amarillo City Council so we can hear the people, advocate for the people, and make real changes that have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Hobert “Gunny” Brown
Hobert “Gunny” Brown is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and conservative political activist making his first run for a seat on the Amarillo City Council this year. Brown has promoted his candidacy as the “grassroots choice” in Amarillo, appealing to voters wanting a change from outside of the normal political establishment.
In a short statement to Texas Scorecard regarding his campaign, Brown said he is running to give Amarillo back to the citizens.
“Simply put, Amarillo has a trust issue when it comes to their city government,” Brown said. “We need an individual who is focused on the people and not focused on notoriety or protecting special interest groups. I want to give the city back to the citizens.”
Brown is also endorsed by Save Amarillo PAC, a political organization that was instrumental in the defeat of Proposition A—a $275 million downtown projects bond—last November.
Cole Stanley is a construction company owner and political newcomer. A native Amarilloan and self-proclaimed graduate of “Hard Knocks University,” Stanley is presenting himself as a common man whom voters can trust to be their voice in office.
Pointing to his experience as a business owner, Stanley says he is now ready to invest his experience in making Amarillo a better city.
“I want to invest my time, energy, and talents where I can have the most impact,” Stanley said. “My experience in business for the past 21 years has equipped me with a special skill set that can be an asset to our local council and community. I know I can help move Amarillo in the right direction.”
Amarillo City Council Place 2
A high school government teacher and conservative activist, Jason Foglesong is making his first bid for a seat on the Amarillo City Council this year. Foglesong serves as secretary for the Potter County Republican Party and previously sought the Republican nomination for the U.S. House in the 13th District, endorsing eventual winner Ronny Jackson after failing to make the runoff.
Running as the conservative choice for the city council, Foglesong says he plans to focus on issues like lower taxes, moving municipal elections to November, and increasing accessibility at city hall.
“I’m running for Amarillo City Council Place 2 to bring transparency, fiscal responsibility, and accountability back to the people of Amarillo,” Foglesong said.
Foglesong has also picked up the endorsement of Save Amarillo PAC and the local chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas.
Joe West is an administrative assistant at Amarillo College and a first-time candidate for political office. West did not respond to our request for comment, but in his profile in the Amarillo Pioneer’s 2021 Voter Guide, West says he is running “to be a good advocate and facilitator between the citizenry and the bureaucracy of local government.”
Incumbent Freda Powell, a mortuary manager, is seeking her third term in office after facing a closer re-election race last year than some incumbents. Powell did not respond to our request for comment, but in her profile in the Amarillo Pioneer’s 2021 Voter Guide, Powell said she believes voters should consider sending her back to city hall for another term based on her experience in office and insights that make her “a more effective representative for our residents.”
Powell is endorsed by Amarillo Matters PAC, an establishment political group aligned with figures such as State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo), which played a major role in securing the election of several local establishment candidates in Amarillo over the past few election cycles.
Amarillo City Council Place 3
Retired business leader Tom Scherlen is making his first bid for office this year after becoming known as an outspoken advocate for limited government in Amarillo. Before entering the political arena, Scherlen led Austin Hose, an Amarillo-based company with locations across the state.
Scherlen says he is running to emphasize representing citizens across Amarillo, believing the current city council has lost focus of who they are supposed to be representing.
“I believe this council has forgotten who they work for and … who their actual boss is, and it is time to give our municipal government back to the people,” Scherlen said. “The council is to represent the people and not the other way around. They were elected by the people to serve them. I believe serving begins with answering questions from the people, returning their phone calls and emails. If you are not willing to do these small things, you need to look for a new job that has nothing to do with serving the people.”
Scherlen has also been endorsed by Save Amarillo PAC.
Incumbent Eddy Sauer is running for another term in office this year after positioning himself as one of the top lieutenants to Mayor Ginger Nelson over the past four years. Sauer points to the past four years as his reason for why voters should send him back for another two-year term.
“I am running for re-election because I am passionate about our city and proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last four years,” Sauer said. “Thanks to strong leadership and smart fiscal management, the city of Amarillo is in a position to succeed for years to come.”
Sauer says if he is re-elected for another term, he will focus on issues like “keeping taxes low, fixing our roads and streets, and doing everything in our power to get our small businesses open and our economy back on track.”
The incumbent is once again endorsed by Amarillo Matters PAC.
Amarillo City Council Place 4
A political newcomer, Ali Ramos is hoping voters will give her the nod this year to unseat incumbent city councilman and former Amarillo ISD Trustee Howard Smith. Ramos is a social worker and graphic designer who says she is running to help guide Amarillo through the challenges the city now faces as a result of the pandemic.
“Growing up here has connected me with some of the brightest and most passionate individuals that I have ever met,” Ramos said. “I decided to run for city council so that I could put my social work degree to good use while advocating for others. The needs resulting from the pandemic are vast, and the loving spirit of the Panhandle community has been exponentially increased in the last year. As a city council member, it would not be just about my own interests, but for the needs of the people. It’s not about me; it’s about the health and prosperity of the entire city.”
Ramos says some of her top priorities include increased transparency and communication in government, revitalization efforts in north and east Amarillo, ending taxpayer-funded lobbying in Amarillo, and moving Amarillo to single-member districts for representation.
A longtime figure in Amarillo business and politics, incumbent Councilman Howard Smith is asking voters to elect him for another two years in office. Smith did not respond to our request for comment, but in his profile in the Amarillo Pioneer’s 2021 Voter Guide, the incumbent said he is running for another term in office due to his beliefs that “there is still more work to be done to ensure Amarillo remains a vibrant, competitive, and safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Smith is endorsed by Amarillo Matters PAC.
Richard “Rich” Herman is a former Potter County justice of the peace, making his second bid for a seat on the Amarillo City Council. Herman previously ran for the city council in 2019, dropping out before the election to campaign for his opponent. Herman also ran for the Republican nomination for Congress in Texas’ 13th Congressional District in 2020.
Herman points to public safety as one of his top reasons for running for city council this year.
“I believe that our community should be a safe place to live, raise a family, work, and worship,” Herman said.
In addition to public safety and issues such as economic development, Herman also says he is running for city council to help ensure faith leaders and religious services in Amarillo are unrestricted by government.
“Something that is personal to me is religion, and I believe that it goes against our Constitution when our elected government restricts our freedom to worship in any way,” Herman said. “I believe that our church leaders should be left alone, and no government interference or restriction to worship is acceptable.”
Sharyn Delgado is a behavior counselor and political newcomer. While Delgado did not respond to our request for comment, in her profile in the Amarillo Pioneer’s 2021 Voter Guide, she said she is running for office this year after feeling that too much of the local government’s attention has been focused downtown and not enough on the surrounding areas of Amarillo.
“In December, I felt like God was saying NOW is the time to run,” Delgado said. “I have never been in politics, but I love my city. I have felt frustrated that the same topics seem to be our leaders’ main focus, such as downtown revitalizing and the civic center. I think Amarillo is more than just downtown. We need to focus on growth and development in all areas of Amarillo.”
Early voting for the Amarillo City Council elections will begin on April 19. Election Day is May 1.