Amarillo Matters came into being as a pro-business political action committee with the aim of developing a “vision for a strong Amarillo built upon the first principles of free enterprise, economic growth, fiscal responsibility and traditional family values.”
I support Amarillo Matters’ overall agenda. I like and respect many of the men and women who are active in the organization.
Then something arrived in the mail today that gives me some concern. It’s not enough to turn me against Amarillo Matters, but it does make me wonder whether this outfit is as high-minded as its campaign rhetoric would suggest. It has driven its campaign buggy onto the low road.
It has endorsed a wholly new slate for Amarillo City Council. I strongly support some of the candidates Amarillo Matters is backing: Ginger Nelson for mayor; Freda Powell for Place 2 and Eddy Sauer for Place 3 all deserve to be elected. I also have lined up behind Elaine Hayes for Place 1 and Howard Smith for Place 4, both of whom are running against incumbents who are seeking re-election.
Here is where my concern rests with the Amarillo Matters flier the postal carrier dropped into my mail box today. It uses some curious language to describe Elisha Demerson, the Place 1 incumbent councilman. It calls him a “long-time Democrat officeholder and politician.”
For starters, I seriously dislike the term “Democrat” when used as an adjective. It’s the kind of language adopted two decades ago by far-right Republicans who sought to demonize in a subtle fashion their Democratic opponents. Demerson wasn’t a “Democrat politician”; he was a pol who belonged to the Democratic Party. Do you get it?
Second of all, Demerson has been out of elected partisan politics for two-plus decades. The last political post he held before being elected two years ago to the City Council was as Potter County judge, a countywide elected office.
Therefore, I challenge the assertion that Demerson is a “long-time” pol. Good grief! He had been sitting on the sidelines since leaving his county office.
Thirdly, the City Council is a non-partisan governing body. Its members do not run as Democrats or Republicans. Partisan affiliation should not inform council members as they deliberate municipal policy.
I recall in the 1990s when a mayoral candidate, Mary Alice Brittain, sought to rally all the city’s “good Republicans” to vote for her over incumbent Kel Seliger. I called her down then, citing the non-partisan nature of the city ballot. She lost badly to Seliger — and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
I don’t mind that Amarillo Matters has weighed in on this campaign. It’s the prerogative of every individual — and, yes, any PAC — to make their voices heard.
Amarillo Matters does bring a valuable perspective to this campaign. I welcome it and I support generally the ideas it seeks to promote.
But not at any cost.