Jim Lowder

Jim Lowder

Jim Lowder

Running for: Mayor of Amarillo

How he voted in the November 2016 city bond election: No to all 7 bonds

What are your major campaign points and how do you plan to make them happen?

The major points of my campaign are good government, which includes fiscal responsibility. I'd like to increase the transparency and accountability established by the current council. Second is public safety, third is infrastructure, and fourth is inclusive economic development for the whole city.

Do you think the city should continue to issue bonds to fund future projects, or just use money allocated in the annual budget?

Some debt may be appropriate. I'm glad that we're a very low debt city and I'm glad we have a high bond rating. One of my priorities will be to protect that bond rating and keep the debt low. But there are some things that, if we have a capital project that needs to be funded over a 40 or 50 year period, then that makes sense to have debt to fund that. But if you have operational expenses and you're cutting in and you're borrowing money to pay for operational expenses, that's a danger sign we want to avoid that if at all possible.

Do you think the city should have a role in economic development, or should that task fall solely on the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation?

The first thing that the city government and elected officials should do is do no harm. Some of the things that we can take action on are we can improve the business climate in Amarillo, which will be good for economic development. Permits should take 3-5 days, not 3-5 weeks or even months. We should be a midwife, we should coordinate with the other quasi governmental organizations and private organizations to find solutions to benefit everyone. That doesn't cost money. We have to be good stewards of taxpayer resources, and in order to do that what you have to do is have priorities that meet a strategic plan. You can't have everything, you have to prioritize. First, what is essential? What is absolutely necessary? Second, what would be beneficial? Third, what would be nice to have? So obviously you're going to spend money first on the essential requirements. One of the things we need to do, and we all talk about it, is improve the I-40 corridor. One of the things that's been overlooked in my view for the past six years is the I-40 corridor. With all that money that's generated [there], if we want to improve our quality of life and the quality of our economic climate, we can do those things. What if we advertised all the activities in Amarillo on digital billboards on either side of the I-40 corridor? So people coming in would go, 'oh wow, I can see the opera tonight, or I can see Shen Yun tonight,' or whatever the case may be. I think we could increase tax revenues naturally by economic growth and development and by taking care of that goose that lays the golden egg.

What letter grade would you give to the current city council and why?

I give them a "D" for when they first started out. They were pretty rough around the edges for the first couple months. But I give them an "A" for increasing transparency and accountability, which was sorely needed. Some people find it unpleasant, but it's a necessary part of democracy. You have to listen to all the voices, and they're not always going to agree. One of the things I'm energized and encouraged about is my professional experience has been built, all my successes really, have been built in collaboration with others. In working hard to understand the problems first, and then achieve a consensus on how to solve the problems. I feel confident that I can do that as mayor. The mayor and the city council are like a board of directors. We cannot micromanage the city. But we can establish strategic goals, guidelines, limitations, and that's exactly what we need to do. One of the problems with the current council of course is there's an obvious personality conflict between two individuals, but neither of them are running for reelection. So I'm confident that I'll be able to work with whoever gets elected to work for the betterment of Amarillo. For all of Amarillo, not just special interests.

What do you think you would bring to the city council that's not there right now?

Professionalism. Experience. I've got 40 years of project management experience. I was a jury foreman, and that may have been one of the most important formative experiences of my professional life. You taxpayers paid an awful lot of money to give me the best leadership and management training and experience in the history of this planet as a navy commanding officer and officer in charge of both technical projects and operational deployments. I'm the only one that brings that skill. I've also been an auditor so I actually have experience in many venues of writing policies, enforcing policies, and auditing policies to make sure that they are followed properly. That's a little bit unusual, and I'm glad to be able to bring all those skills for the citizens of Amarillo and my neighbors.

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