Early voting about to start
Early voting is about to begin across Texas, where voters will select local candidates seeking municipal and educational offices.
Panhandle PBS has done its part in trying to raise voter awareness in elections for Amarillo City Council. The station's "Live Here" series aired a candidate forum in early April in which journalists asked questions of the 16 men and women running for the five seats on the City Council.
The forum is available online and if you didn't watch the candidate forum, you can see it in its entirety right here.
This is a big deal. I'll change that. It's a very big deal.
The election will determine which of these folks will set city policy and who will determine how much we pay in property taxes to pay for the services we demand of City Hall.
A lot has happened in Amarillo the past few months and even in recent years. The city has embarked on an ambitious downtown revitalization initiative, while seeking to maintain the vital local government services taxpayers have come to expect from City Hall.
Each seat on the City Council is up for election every other year. The incumbents in four of the five seats are seeking re-election. One seat is being contested by several challengers to fill the seat that was held by the late Jim Simms, who died in office several months ago; council members picked a former colleague, Ron Boyd, to occupy the seat until the voting was completed -- and Boyd declared that he wouldn't seek election.
Panhandle PBS general manager Chris Hays has made it a mission to get people interested and energized enough to vote in this election. Indeed, Amarillo residents need to answer the call to fulfill one of U.S. citizenship's key tasks, which is to vote. The U.S. Constitution, the Texas Constitution or the Amarillo City Charter do not require us to vote.
Thus, we're free to sit this election and hand these decisions over to someone else.
However, that doesn't serve the cause of good government. The more people who vote the more the power is spread around. Fewer people concentrate the power in their hands. Do we really want that to happen?