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Majority of local candidates speak at High Plains Republican Women's meeting

Editor's Note: This is special report for High Plains Pundit by Francis Dorsey. Francis is a retired attorney and former college educator. She is the legislative chair for the High Plains Republican Women.

A majority of the incumbents and challengers in the May 4th Amarillo general election were in attendance for the HPRW's candidate forum.  Below are Mrs. Dorsey's thoughts on each candidate who spoke during the meeting.

Mayor of Amarillo

Claudette Smith is a 32 year old and business owner.  She has been attending Council meetings, etc., for 1 year and fighting for transparency and accountability for the City government.  Claudette believes it can be run more efficiently and improve public safety and lower the crime rate. 

She wants to improve animal welfare and fight homelessness in Amarillo. 

Claudette believes the City is now spending money on things that aren’t in it’s job description, but she did not name what those were.

Ginger Nelson made a good campaign speech and elaborated on public safety.  She says they have added body cams and also added 22 more police officers in the city. 

Ginger also wants to bring new companies to Amarillo to increase employment.

Kip Billups talked about transparency and accountability of city government.  Mentioned his business background.


Elaine Hayes talked about the crime rate and how the city now spends almost 50% of it’s budget on public safety.

Rich Herman says he would like to be on the Council because he loves Amarillo and has over 30 years military experience wherein a large part of his time there was spent in a position of solving problems of how to get things done (logistics).

Hayden Pedigo is 25 years old and said that we are forgetting our history as a cowboy town and should be promoting rodeos here instead of baseball.  History and legacy is, he believes, an important draw.  Also, nearly 40% of citizens of Amarillo are young adults (I forgot age range he gave) and he doesn’t see the city taking that into consideration when deciding on projects.


Treva Harper has worked most of her life in the restaurant industry.  She wants more done on the East, NE, side of Amarillo to improve and get control of law enforcement there. 

Treva noted during her remarks that prostitution is a problem in Amarillo and not enough arrests are being made. She said the girls are victims even if they don’t realize it. 

Treva also said we need to bring in more businesses so there are more jobs for the unemployed who live in that area.


Eddy Sauer is a dentist with a long practice in Amarillo and he owns the business.  He says he is a problem solver. 

Eddie claims they have been making a lot of law enforcement upgrades without raising the tax rate.  He says Amarillo has one of the lowest tax rates in the state. 

He wants to give police more new gear and says we need the Vet School here. 

Eddie bragged about how high school students with an 80 average or above can get their first 60 hours free at AC.  It used to be just 2 schools that did this, but now they all do.  Don’t know why he got into education? 

Eddie wants to develop a street repair fund that presumes we will have major repairs from time to time so that we don’t have to pass a bond issue election for every big repair job.

Brad Torch wants to tackle the crime rate, which he says has put Amarillo in 5th place for the most crime per capita in Texas.  He says we have lost 30 policemen  (did not give a time frame) and says we need to hire more. 

Brad wants our roads to be in better condition, and he believes more street lights would help safety.

Tom Warren ll is a small business owner who does a lot of international business.  He says he is a trouble shooter and thinks he can help solve a lot of the cities problems as they come up. 

Tom wants to go to single member districts due to the size of our city, and wants to move city elections to even numbered years in November to be on same ballot with state and national candidates to save the city a lot of election costs.


Steven Rosas has 5 kids and he and his wife are business partners.  He wants single member districts plus wants to add 2 more members to the Council. 

Steven wants to inspire the poorer areas and support businesses to locate there.

Howard Smith is concerned about economic development and getting the Vet School.  He also to give law enforcement all the tools they need.


Jim Austin has been a school board trustee for 18 years.  He was a banker, but now owns several businesses in Amarillo. 

Jim says education is the great leveler. We have 69% of kids getting reduced lunches.  He believes we need to do things in education that will help the kids to more up economically. 

He reports that they are now using the money from the last bond election to completely redo the entrances and exits of the schools for safety, as well as repairs to many buildings.

Jim wants a longer school year  He believes that summer break is too long and many kids are falling backward in their education by that big of a break.

John Betencourt is now on the board and graduated from Caprock.  He as worked as a loaned Executive for United Way in Amarillo and Canyon. 

John wants to ensure campus safety and confirms that they are doing that now with the bond money.  He wants our high school curriculum to prepare kids not only for college for also for trade careers and military as not every kid has to go to college. 

He wants to continue combating bullying and gave this number for suicide prevention program. 1-800-273-talk.

Alonzo Everhart graduated from Wayland Baptist and spent 13 years in the Navy.and now is Senior Director over 600 Pantex employees.  He wants to let teachers teach their way (not to the test) and not to be under so much external control over everything they do in the classroom.

Dick Ford was a Navy Seabee and has a degree in business management. He is a realtor and investment advisor.  He has been a CASA representative.  He believes that there are serious communications issues between teachers and administration.  They need to be able to get their concerns to the school board without fear of retribution.  He is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission at this time.

Aaron Ladd has a wife that is a teacher and kids in school here and he wants to be on the school board so they will have the best education possible.

Rob Parker has children in AISD and in college.  They have saved a lot on college due to dual credit classes.  His wife is a substitute teacher for AISD. He has been a banker for 29 years so has seen a lot of personal and business budgets. 

Rob wants to empower teachers and administration to do their best job.  He says restoring the Cluster Directors will give teachers and administration someone to speak their concerns to. 

He wants an expansion of the trades classes where they will get a number of certifications and be ready for the work force. 

Rob is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the AEDC. 


David Velasquez was a Marine the joined the Navy.  He is now a realtor with 3 kids in AISD.  He believes we need more career counseling for high school kids regarding the jobs available out there and what they pay so they don’t get History or English, etc. degrees and end up having trouble finding good paying jobs.

1 comment:

  1. Glad Mrs. Dorsey reported this information for the public to see If I might clarify a couple of points in my position above. Amarillo is 5th in crime per capita out of the 35 most populous cities in Texas. The Amarillo Police Department is currently understaffed by 30 officers, as per officers that I have spoken with. They have not had a fully staffed force since 2012. This means we have the budget for 30 additional officers, not necessarily that we need them. The remaining portion of the budget has likely been used for other expenditures or put back in to the general fund.