Some thoughts on Potter County judge contest

First, I have to stipulate that I don’t have an electoral voice in Potter County, given that I live in Randall County.

But I’m going to weigh in anyway on the Potter County judge’s race, as I am acquainted with four of the five candidates and I know two of them quite well. The fifth one I met only recently.

The reality of this race is that it actually shouldn’t be a close call. Of the five individuals seeking to succeed 20-year County Judge Arthur Ware, the best qualified person for the job is Nancy Tanner, Ware’s long-time administrative assistant.

I’ve known Tanner well for more than 19 years. My former job as editorial page editor of the local newspaper enabled me to consult with her many times on the issues of the day. She’s competent. She knows the job. Indeed, she had been doing much of the judge’s job since Ware suffered a debilitating stroke in 2010.

Tanner’s learning curve would be far less steep than any of the other candidates.

Debra McCartt touts her experience as Amarillo’s first female mayor, her stint as head of a statewide municipal association and her prior experience as a city commissioner. She contends that leadership matters — and it does. As much as I like McCartt personally and admire the job she did as mayor, it needs to be said that the mayor’s main job in Amarillo’s form of government is “showing up.” McCartt did it beautifully. She showed up seemingly at every event where her attendance was required. She often appeared to be at more than one place at a time.

To be mayor, though, required little heavy lifting; that is done by the city manager and his staff of department heads and assistant managers.

The third possible dark horse in this contest is Bill Bandy, the candidate I know the least about. He once worked for former state Rep. David Swinford and professes to be close friends with Rep. Four Price, Rep. John Smithee and Sen. Kel Seliger. He seemed to jump out of the tall grass at the last minute to run for county judge. I am unaware of his previous involvement at any level of county government. He, too, is smart and articulate. It seems that his own experience falls far short of Tanner’s.

Bill Sumerford and Jeff Poindexter are the two remaining candidates. Sumerford has been little more than a political gadfly for the past decade. He’s an anti-tax hawk who for a time was leading various efforts to put key city council decisions to a popular vote. Poindexter has run several times unsuccessfully for public office — and that’s all I say about that.

This contest likely won’t be decided next Tuesday. The smart money suggests a runoff is in store for the top two candidates. I won’t predict who will finish first and second, other than to suggest it appears to be a combination that involves Tanner, McCartt and Bandy.

If I had a vote in this race, I’d cast it for Nancy Tanner.

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