Tag Archives: Ginger Nelson

Mayor pitches for a private business?

I might be the only person on God’s good Earth to feel this way, but I’ll express it anyway.

I was driving around Amarillo in Big Jake, my big ol’ pickup, when I heard a voice on the radio; I am going to paraphrase what I heard. “I’m Ginger Nelson,” the voice intoned, “and if you’re going to receive friends and family here, I recommend that they stay” at a certain hotel.

The ad took me aback. Why? Well, Ginger Nelson is Amarillo’s mayor. She never revealed that she occupies that highly visible public office in the commercial. But … c’mon! Everyone in Amarillo knows she is the mayor. It struck me as a bit odd that a mayor would serve as a pitch person for a private business, particularly a business in the midst of heavy competition with other private businesses providing the same service. In this case, it’s the hospitality industry.

This might not stick in anyone else’s craw, but it sure stuck in mine. It runs afoul of my perception of fair play, that the political leader of a community would play favorites, selecting one private business over all the others that do business within that city.

It’s worth wondering out loud: How would the owner of a competing hotel feel about the head the city’s governing council soliciting business for a competitor? My guess: He or she probably wouldn’t like it one little bit.

Admittedly, I haven’t done any research into the matter. I am merely reacting to something I heard on my vehicle radio.

I mentioned it to my wife and she reminded me that former Mayor (and City Commissioner) Trent Sisemore did some pitch work while he held public office for his own business, which happened to be an RV dealership … which since has been taken over by new owners. That seemed wildly different from what I heard from the current mayor.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t know Mayor Nelson well. However, I believe she has done a good job as mayor of the city she loves. The economy is thriving and (oh brother!) there is work being done on streets and highways all over the city.

Someone might have to explain to me that this really is OK. To my ears, it just doesn’t sound right — or proper.


City hall project put on ice

Every now and then you see evidence of local government listening to and acting on what it hears from the constituency it serves.

So it happened up yonder in Amarillo, where the city council has postponed any action on relocating its City Hall.

According to a statement published on Amarillo Matters’ site:

After listening to feedback from Amarillo residents, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to withdraw their intent to issue $35 million in certificates of obligation for a City Hall project. In the meeting, Mayor Ginger Nelson said, “There were enough citizens who reached out to say I still have questions.” Nelson added that, “We can take time; I do think it is diligent for us to take more time and spend time answering those questions…I think it’s important for us to listen to what the citizens are telling us and figure out what the best approach is.” In a flip-flop from his earlier vote, Councilmember Cole Stanley was the lone vote to continue the issuance of certificates of obligation and the project.

How about that?

The council had floated a notion of relocating its City Hall. The idea, as I understand it, took more than one form. There was talk about adding it to a bond issue proposal that included renovating the Civic Center. Then the council thought it would issue the COs, which do not require a citywide vote.

Now it has backed off altogether. I guess the current City Hall will have to serve the residents for the time being while the council wrestles with what to do, where to go … and how to pay for it.

That’s a satisfactory, if only temporary, outcome.


Yes, welcome them, but no need to embrace them

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

An earlier blog post compels me to make a declaration.

In no way at all do I object to Amarillo (Texas) Mayor Ginger Nelson welcoming New Mexico Republicans to her city; the NM Republican Party took its annual conference across the state line because of objections to the state’s ongoing COVID pandemic protocols.

Fine. Whatever they want to do is fine with me. That’s their call.

Nor should it bother anyone in Amarillo, even if they disagree politically with the GOP, or the Democratic Party … any political organization on Earth.

Ginger Nelson’s welcoming of the New Mexico GOP conference crossed a couple of important lines.

One line is that the mayor — by embracing the ideology expressed by the likes of Reps. Ronny Jackson (the former Navy admiral who moved to Amarillo to run for Congress) and Jim Jordan of Ohio — has thrown in with the nuttiest of the nut jobs of the current Republican Party. Nelson did not advertise herself as a 2020 election conspiracy theorist when she won re-election earlier this month. Now, though, she has aligned herself with those nut jobs. Jackson and Jordan stand among the few and the ridiculous in their view of Donald Trump’s Big Lie.

The other line involves the non-partisan nature of her elected office. Her cuddling up to the GOP in this manner reminds of the time a 1990s candidate for Amarillo mayor, Mary Alice Brittain, sought to recruit “good Republicans” to vote for her over the incumbent mayor, Kel Seliger. I called Brittain out at the time for poisoning the non-partisan nature of the office she sought. The good news is that she didn’t win and has disappeared from the Texas Panhandle political grid.

I shudder to think that Mayor Nelson, who I believe has done a stellar job as the city’s presiding elected official, is about to cross the line that separates her non-partisan duties from partisan political hackery. 

Please say it isn’t so, Mme. Mayor.

Mme. Mayor, you have messed up

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ginger Nelson has been elected and re-elected mayor of Amarillo, Texas, as a non-partisan public official. In her capacity as mayor, she officially belongs to no political party.

Which brings me to this point: What in the name of political sanity is the city’s non-partisan mayor throwing her arms around the likes of some of the most partisan Republicans on the national stage today?

The New Mexico Republican Party moved its annual conference to Amarillo because the party doesn’t like New Mexico’s continuing COVID pandemic restrictions. They came to Amarillo to sing the praises of the disgraced Donald Trump and to whoop and holler at the likes of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and the Panhandle’s Rep. Ronny Jackson, all of whom have served as Trump suck-ups and sycophants.

She could have just welcomed the New Mexico GOP to the city she governs, encouraged them to spend some dough and revel in the sights and sounds of the Texas Panhandle.

Then Nelson posted this on Facebook: Conservative ideals are good for our city, our states and our nation. We live those ideals everyday in Amarillo, and I’m glad that Amarillo is participating in the national political dialogue about what is best for our families, our businesses, our cities and our nation.

Conservative ideals? Really, Mme. Mayor? Sure thing. What about conspiracy notions about “stolen elections” and “rampant voter fraud,” which are two of the idiotic propositions being promoted by the folks with whom Nelson is proud to hobnob at the NM GOP conference?

My goodness. This is profoundly disappointing to me. I barely know Ginger Nelson; I have had precisely one brief conversation with her. I supported her election and re-election as mayor because of her economic vision for the city.

I didn’t give a damn about about her political leanings. She serves as mayor with no regard to partisanship. I do give a damn now because she has embraced the political toxicity these GOP wackos have brought to Amarillo.

Very disappointing, Mme. Mayor.

Get back to governing

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Amarillo’s goofy recount in its mayoral contest is over.

Any surprises? Hah! None! Mayor Ginger Nelson was re-elected to another two-year term despite the challenge mounted by a challenger, Claudette Smith, who wanted to peel 816 votes away from Nelson’s total to force a runoff. I guess she said something about irregularities.

It ain’t gonna happen.

Nelson said this on social media: I want to personally thank our county election clerks and staff for their hard work in validating the election results of May 1st. Our county employees do an amazing job of running our local elections with integrity and professionalism. I also want to thank the City Secretary, the Secretary of State’s office, and all the City staff who carefully followed the recount process. Most of all, I’m thankful for our citizens for voting in the May 1st municipal election.

I get that I am looking at this from afar, given that I no longer live in Amarillo, but so help me this recount smacked of the kind of sore loserness exhibited by Donald Trump … without a riot that stormed City Hall the way the terrorists stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

I have heard from a couple of sources that Smith got into a snit with Nelson over a matter and she filed to run for Nelson’s seat because of a personal beef she had — or still has — with the mayor. Oh, does she have a public service record on which to run? Hmm. I haven’t heard of a single thing that she has done.

Well, the recount appears to be over. I would be willing to bet real American money we might never hear from the challenger again.

Recount? Really?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Is this the new modus operandi for candidates who lose contests for public office?

They get fewer votes than the winner and then yap and yammer about alleged “irregularities” in the counting of the ballots. So it is happening now in the just completed race for mayor of Amarillo, Texas.

Mayor Ginger Nelson was re-elected with 54 percent of the vote. Her closest challenger was someone named Claudette Smith (about whom I know nothing), who finished with 29 percent of the total vote. Let’s see, that’s a 25-percentage point difference between first and second.

And yet, Smith wants a recount. She said this, according to the Amarillo Globe-News: “Since Election Day, I have been inundated with inquiries regarding the outcome and integrity of the election. At the request of a very large number of citizens, I filed a petition for a recount,” Smith said in a statement given to the Globe-News on Tuesday after the Globe-News’ print deadline. “Another candidate on the ballot (in a different race) has requested a recount as well. Many citizens have expressed that the incumbent in my race barely missed a runoff by 4%, which equates to around 800 votes. Additionally, there are a number of questionable incidents that occurred during the election that are being looked at. As a candidate, I pay for the cost of the recount. It does not cost the taxpayers anything. I have agreed to pay these costs. If it was a fair and honest election, I don’t see any reason anyone should object to a recount. It’s what the people want and so that’s what I’ve decided to do.”

Update: Smith comments on recount request submitted for Amarillo mayor race (msn.com)

Ah, ha! There it is! She says Nelson fell just 800 votes of being forced into a runoff. Therefore, Smith said, she needs to recount the tally. Good grief.

The only redeeming quality of this farce is that Smith is going to foot the bill for a recount.

Still, I believe it will prove to be a monumental waste of time.  Oh, and Smith had better not claim any sort of “election theft.”

Betsy backs Ginger

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson is touting a re-election endorsement she has received … from someone who lives way down the highway in Fort Worth.

The endorsement comes from Mayor Betsy Wright, who’s not seeking another term as Cowtown mayor.

I am not going to denigrate Betsy Wright’s mayoral legacy over yonder in Fort Worth. She appears to be quite popular among those she serves. Moreover, I happen to believe Ginger Nelson deserves another term as Amarillo mayor.

I do have a question: Does it really matter in real, tangible vote-harvesting terms to trumpet an endorsement from someone who serves a city that is more than 300 miles away?

Mayor Nelson could benefit in a real way with formal endorsements from those who work with her at the highest levels of government. How about a nod from, say, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner and newly installed Randall County Judge Christy Dyer? Or from each of their commissioners courts? Or from mayors of the towns scattered across the Panhandle landscape?

All that said, from what I have witnessed from afar, Amarillo is continuing to make steady and enviable progress as it continues its journey from dusty burg to a city of major consequence.

So, with that she has my endorsement, too … and it likely won’t win Nelson a single vote.


Are we moving too quickly to reopen?

Social distancing is the weapon of necessity in this fight we are waging against the coronavirus pandemic.

Get a load of this bit of news out of Amarillo: Hundreds of meatpacking plant employees aren’t showing any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus — but are testing positive anyway for the viral infection.

Which makes social distancing and the wearing of masks so very imperative, according to Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

“We are encountering people who are asymptomatic,” said Mayor Nelson in remarks to KAMR/KCIT-TV in Amarillo. “They don’t know they’re sick, but they have the virus and they’re at the grocery store, you’re encountering them, and that’s why it’s so important to wear a mask. You could be that person.”

And yet we keep hearing from fools such as, oh, the president of the United States who tell us how vital it is to reopen the country, to get the economy jump started. Donald Trump cares less about the health of Americans than he does about the state of the economy and whether its current crisis bodes ill for his re-election chances.

Moreover, he is enlisting many of his gubernatorial allies — such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — in pushing forward possibly too quickly.

The Tyson Foods plant in Amarillo is a huge employer. More than 3,500 employees got tested for the virus, many of whom tested positive. I am forced to ask: Is it worth exposing those employees to serious illness or even death? I would say with emphasis: Hell no!

Mayor teaches a course in Leadership 101

Leadership reveals itself in many forms.

One way is when a leader prepares for the worst while hoping for the best outcome. Example: U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower launched the D-Day invasion of Europe in June 1944 hoping for ultimate victory, but he was prepared to deliver a message to the world in the event of failure; he would take full responsibility for a tragic outcome.

Another way is when an elected public servant battles a potentially deadly disease, steps away from his or her public duties and then returns to announce a strategy to deal with a worldwide health crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic. Example: Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

I doubt Nelson — who I don’t know well, but is someone with whom I am acquainted — would welcome a comparison with the great Ike, but I am going to offer it anyway.

Nelson is battling cancer. She has backed away from her normal mayoral duties to fight the disease. But this week she issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order for the city of 200,000 residents. She issued the order calmly, with confidence and with compassion. I didn’t watch her make the declaration in real time, but I am willing to bet my entire (and dwindling) retirement fund that she made no mention of her illness, that she didn’t lay a “woe is me” guilt trip on her constituents.

We’re all enduring some level of discomfort during this difficult time. Those who are stricken by the coronavirus deserve our love and compassion. Others of us deserve unflinching leadership from those elected to serve us.

We do not need to hear self-congratulatory blather and mindless happy talk during this dire time … and if you detect a reference to what we’re getting from the very highest levels of our nation’s government, then you win the daily prize.

Well done, Mayor Nelson. Stay strong. Your city needs you.

AQHA gets an offer for a new home

Well now, it turns out I’m a bit slow on the uptake … which isn’t too much of a surprise. My critics accuse me of such things on occasion.

The Fort Worth City Council has approved a 50-year lease that could portend a relocation of the American Quarter Horse Association Museum from Amarillo to Fort Worth.

Hmm. What do you know about that? It turns out my Fort Worth pal was right when he sent me that message, that a move might be in the works. And it further cements the reason for the petition drive launched by Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to try to persuade AQHA to stay put, to remain where it has called home for 70 years.

I hope the petition drive succeeds and that the AQHA board feels the love that it has enjoyed in the Texas Panhandle for all that time.

However, major cities such as Fort Worth don’t approve 50-year lease agreements without some confidence that the move will bear fruit.

AQHA officials say the “ground lease” does not guarantee a move is imminent. They note that that fundraising efforts in Fort Worth have accelerated. They also express appreciation for their “Amarillo employees” who have worked to make the AQHA museum such an integral part of the community.

OK. So the die isn’t cast. At least not yet.

I wish I felt better about Amarillo’s role in the AQHA future. I am trying to remain optimistic that AQHA will stay put.

However, at the moment it is a serious struggle.