AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — While the individual who is elected to the Place Four seat in May will be new to the position, the candidates for Place Four have experience with Amarillo city government, whether it is covering city government for a local publication for many years, serving time on city boards and/or running for office previously.
This comes after current Place Four Amarillo City Councilmember Howard Smith announced that he would not run for reelection. None of the individuals who are running for Place Four have previously been elected to the Amarillo City Council.
MyHighPlains.com spoke with each of the candidates who are actively running for the Place Four seat on the Amarillo City Council. Each of the candidates spoke about their priorities, why they decided to run for the position and their aspirations for Amarillo if they are elected for the seat.
The list of the candidates in this article is based on how the candidates will be listed on the May 2023 election ballot.
After spending 30 years in the newspaper business, Les Simpson, a Place Four candidate for the Amarillo City Council, said he wanted to continue public service as a member of the city council. Simpson said that his time covering city government has given him a leg up versus the other candidates for Place Four.
Simpson said what he mainly learned during his time at the Amarillo Globe-News is how to hold people accountable, stressing that knowing how city government works would give him “a much shorter learning curve” if he is elected. Simpson also said that his work with entrepreneurs has given him insight into different strategies for working with city departments.
Like many other candidates, Simpson said the Amarillo Civic Center Complex-related council vote was a catalyst for him to think about running. If elected, he said he would approach the council as conservatively as possible, reflecting what he phrased as the community’s faith-based values.
When asked about his priorities, Simpson said that taxpayers just want their trash picked up, the ability to drive on good streets and have their water/sewer run adequately, and their money to ultimately be spent wisely.
Claudette Smith, a candidate for Place Four on the Amarillo City Council, said she wants to continue to serve as a “conduit” between citizens and the city government.
Smith, who has previously run for Amarillo Mayor, stressed that while individuals do not need qualifications to run for office, she has been involved in city business for the last seven years, helping serve as a connector between citizens and city government with business issues.
As a member of the Amarillo City Council, Smith said that her work would be more effective, emphasizing on building safety and promoting the importance of communication with the city and business owners. Smith said she believes she has a track record of action, asking questions and not being afraid to hold leaders accountable during council meetings.
Toward the end of the interview, Smith also spoke about the recount she requested after the 2021 mayor’s race. According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, current Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson was elected in May 2021 and the outcome from the recount did not change the result.
While John Ingerson, a candidate for Place Four on the Amarillo City Council, has run for a city government position before, he sees this time as being different: seeing this particular race as “an awesome opportunity” to change the way business is done within the city of Amarillo.
Like many other candidates in this race, Ingerson decided to run for office after the Amarillo Civic Center Complex-related vote, which he believes was the council going against the will of the voters. Ingerson said he also had qualms with the move of City Hall.
Ingerson, who previously worked in sales, believes he stands out from others in this particular race because of his experience, specifically on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. Ingerson said it was the greatest thing he has gotten to do over the last few years, getting to be a part of a number of capital projects, a master plan process as well as department budgeting.
As a member of the Amarillo City Council, Ingerson said he would love to be a part of that change, giving a chance to bring City Hall back to the residents. Ingerson believes he can be a bridge in the gap of division he believes is currently in the city of Amarillo.
Hobert Gunny Brown
Hobert Gunny Brown, a candidate for Place Four on the Amarillo City Council, said that the reason why he chose to run is that he wants to serve his community and build trust.
While Brown was not planning to run, he said a few members of the community approached him and said they needed someone like him in office, something that encouraged him to run. As a retired Marine, Brown said it gives him the ability to make thoughtful decisions and not let emotions take over in decision-making.
Brown, who previously ran for the Place One seat in 2021, said losing in that election gave him the opportunity to look at his weaknesses. Since then, he said he has looked at budgets and other key elements of the city. Brown has also gotten more involved with various city and neighborhood projects, listening to what the citizens care about.
What Brown has learned from residents is that many believe that they do not have a voice in the city government. Brown said that is why his number one platform is trust, something that serves as a foundation for all other decisions in the Amarillo City Council.
For more information about what is on the ballot for the May 2023 election, check out the sample ballots for a number of counties right here. For a look at early voting locations in Potter and Randall counties, click here.
For more details and updates on the May 2023 election, check here:
- Sample ballots for Election Day on the HighPlains
- Potter, Randall counties report Early Voting numbers for May 2023 election
- MyHighPlains.com Voter Information Guide
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo City Council Place One
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo City Council Place Two
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo City Council Place Three
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo City Council Place Four
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo Mayor
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Amarillo College Board of Regents
- Meet the May 2023 candidates: Bushland ISD/Highland Park ISD School Boards
- Meet the May 2023 Candidates: Amarillo ISD School Board
- Meet the May 2023 Candidates: Canyon ISD School Board
- Election Day on the High Plains: Live Updates