Early vote is over; now let’s await the MPEV verdict

ballpark

Early voting is not my thing.

I prefer to vote on Election Day. But I’m delighted at what I’ve read and heard so far about the early vote turnout for next Tuesday’s big municipal election, the one that decides the fate of the ballpark that’s included in the proposed multipurpose event venue planned for downtown Amarillo.

It’ll be interesting once all the ballots are counted to learn (a) whether the ballpark fails or passes and (b) whether the total number of ballots actually produces anything resembling a “mandate” one way or the other.

Years ago, Texas made it so very easy for voters to cast their ballots early. The idea then was to boost turnout in this state, which traditionally has been quite pitiful. From my catbird seat over many years, I’ve determined that the turnout really hasn’t increased; early voting, though, simply has meant that more voters cast their ballots early rather than waiting for Election Day.

The MPEV vote might change all of that next Tuesday. That’s my hope, at least.

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At issue is that $32 million MPEV, which includes the ballpark.

I’ve been all-in on this project since the beginning. It’s a good deal for the city on more levels than I can remember at the moment. It’s an economic development tool; it would provide entertainment opportunities; it would spur further growth downtown; it would help — along with the downtown convention hotel that’s also planned — remake the appearance and personality of the downtown district.

The campaigns mounted by both sides of this issue have been vigorous. They have told the truth — most of the time.

There’s been a bit of demagoguery from the anti-MPEV side concerning the role the one-time master developer, Wallace-Bajjali, has played in all of this. The developer vanished into thin air this past year over a dispute between the principals who owned the outfit. They parted company and one of them, David Wallace, has filed bankruptcy.

This MPEV idea, though, was conceived long before Wallace-Bajjali entered the picture, but there’s been plenty of loose talk about nefarious motives relating to the company and its association with the downtown revival effort.

I get that David Wallace proved to be “all hat and no cattle” as he sought to sell his company’s track record when he and his partner arrived on the scene. The planning and execution of this project has involved a lot of other home-grown individuals and groups who are invested deeply in this community.

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I want the MPEV to earn the voters’ endorsement. If it doesn’t, well, we’ll have to come up with another plan … quickly!

As the campaign comes to a close, though, I remain hopeful that a significant number of Amarillo voters are going to weigh in with their ballots. Do I expect a smashing, presidential-year election-scale kind of turnout? Hardly.

My hope is that all of this discussion — and even the occasional temper tantrums from both sides of the divide — will give us something that resembles a mandate.

And that, friends, is how a democracy is supposed to work.

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