For the first time since 2017, Amarillo voters are guaranteed to see a new majority on the Amarillo City Council, beginning in May 2023.

Since December, Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson and two members of the Amarillo City Council—Eddy Sauer and Howard Smith—have announced their retirements from the body. Each of the three were elected in 2017 as part of a slate backed by Amarillo Matters PAC, an organization formed, in part, to support the re-election efforts of former State Sen. Kel Seliger.

With the three members leaving office, just two incumbents look set to run for another term on the body. City Councilman Cole Stanley, who was elected in 2021, told voters at a Conservative Patriots for Texas meeting in Amarillo that he likely will be running for a second term after earning notoriety for being a vocal opponent of Nelson. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Freda Powell, who was also first elected in 2017, has announced her plans to run for Nelson’s seat next year.

Several candidates have already put their names forward as candidates to fill the vacant city council seats. For Place 2, which is currently held by Powell, insurance broker Don Tipps has announced his candidacy. Meanwhile, for Place 3, Sherie Wood and former Austin Hose CEO Tom Scherlen have filed for spots on the ballot. Finally, for Place 4, U.S. Army veteran Hobert “Gunny” Brown has filed to run, while former Potter County Justice of the Peace Richard Herman has teased his candidacy on social media. In addition, former newspaper publisher Les Simpson has been speculated as a potential candidate for this seat.

The mayoral race has also attracted several potential candidates, as well as two official candidates. Powell and Tonya “Lady Butterscotch” Winston, a TikTok influencer, have both filed their applications to run for mayor. Political newcomer Daniel Johnson has also sent out a press release stating that he will be a candidate for mayor.

Still, perhaps the two biggest names in the race have recently remained quiet about their plans when it comes to seeking the mayorship. Businessman Alex Fairly, who successfully sued the City of Amarillo last year to stop a debt issuance for the Amarillo Civic Center Complex, has been the subject of heavy speculation. Last week, he gave a speech to a group of Republicans indicating that he will likely be a candidate for mayor. Fairly has been the subject of a strong push by local Republicans to place a conservative candidate on the ballot, and the Potter County Republican Party passed a resolution encouraging him to run for the job earlier this month.

Aside from Fairly, former Canyon ISD Trustee Tim Reid has also been widely speculated as a possible candidate for mayor. Reid, who unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2022, was backed by Amarillo Matters in his previous campaign for office.

In an interview with Texas Scorecard, Reid said he has not yet made a decision on running and is currently waiting to see what Fairly’s plans will be for the May election. In the meantime, the retired FBI agent said he has been meeting with concerned citizens and elected officials, “trying to make the best decision for myself and for the city.”

Candidates have until Friday, February 17, to file for a spot on the ballot. Election Day is Saturday, May 6.

Thomas Warren

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

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