Amarillo, TX - Some members of the Amarillo City Council are no longer asking for the resignations of six city leaders.
After a week of tension and turmoil at City Hall, the message of both new and old council members is now one of moving forward. That movement started with taking the resignations of City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and all five Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) board members off the agenda. Their jobs are no longer on the line.
"I think we've got everything on a path to move forward collectively, not just as a council, or just myself, or city staff, but the community," said Atkinson. "We're in a very good place now and I'm very pleased with that."
The removal of the six potential resignations was met with applause from a packed room of residents. Hundreds of people attended the meeting so the city created three overflow viewing rooms and added extra police to monitor the crowd. The scheduled 5:30 meeting, which started late around 5:45, followed a more than two-hour closed executive work session.
Council member Mark Nair originally asked for Atkinson's resignation last Tuesday, the same day he was sworn in. He received some criticism from the public and his fellow council members for acting so quickly. "I realize now that there is more to the story and that the bosses, 200,000 people out there, the bosses require more from me than that little piece," said Nair. "I know that. I don't approach the job with any more trepidation, but I do know there are more voices out there that we need to hear."
Council member Randy Burkett asked for the AEDC board resignations, but left immediately after the meeting and did not return our phone calls for comment.
Veteran council member Brian Eades said Tuesday's more than two-hour closed session had them working as a team with the city's best interest at heart. "I was impressed with the way my fellow council members stepped forward," said Eades. "They were very serious. You can tell there had been a lot of consideration and thinking about this issue going on over the last week. I think maybe better angels prevailed and we looked at each other and decided we're going to have to work together."
Nair shared a similar sentiment. "The important thing today is that the whole city council came together with a unified voice to say let's move into the future," said Nair. "That was the critical thing. We've got to move forward and we were risking that not happening. None of us want that. We need to all move forward for the city and that is what we concluded we did."
During the public comment session of the meeting, many residents gave their views, some positive and some negative, about how things are going with the city. Two different speakers asked City Attorney Marcus Norris to reconsider the resignation he announced on Monday. Some supporters of the new council members asked them to not back down from their crusade for change. However, differing views on downtown development dominated most of the public comments.