Candidates shell out big dough for a volunteer job

You’ve got to hand it to the 16 men and women running for five spots on the Amarillo City Council.

They’ve raised and spent a lot of money to obtain what, in effect, is a volunteer job.

Campaign filing reports released Friday show the candidates have raised more than $281,000 in campaign cash for the council. The tab is continuing to climb and the final campaign expense list won’t be released until after the May 9 election.

Think about this for a moment.

These individuals are running for a spot on the council that pays 10 bucks per meeting. The council meets once a week on the third floor of City Hall. So, it’s $40 for most months; $50 for those months that have five Tuesdays in them. They get reimbursed for expenses incurred while doing city business. If they travel, say, to a Texas Municipal League meeting, the city will pay them back for travel expenses.

A couple of dynamics have popped up in the waning days of the campaign.

One of them is the negative campaign being waged by Place 1 incumbent Ellen Robertson Green and challenger Elisha Demerson, a former Potter County commissioner and judge. Another has to be the relative silence in most of the other races, even though the candidates have raised what seems like a lot of cash to spend.

I’ve had friends who are closer to this race than I have been tell me they think some of the incumbents are in trouble. Other friends, though, are suggesting that the turnout will be low — which is typical, sadly — and that the incumbents will skate back into office.

I’m not going to handicap this contest. My reporting job for NewsChannel10.com kind of takes me out of the local political prognostication business.

I will add this observation, however. If the candidates are going to spend nearly 300 grand collectively for an office that basically pays them nothing, then I suspect a serious commitment to public service from all of them — incumbents and challengers alike.

That speaks well for Amarillo.

Leave a Reply