Elisha Demerson

Elisha Demerson

Elisha Demerson

Running for: Amarillo City Council Place 1 (incumbent)

How he voted in the November 2016 city bond election: No to proposition 7 (youth athletics), yes to the rest

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

One of the things that I have done over the past two years, I have always said that I am not against downtown revitalization. But what I've made very clear is I'm for all of Amarillo. There is more to Amarillo, Texas, than just downtown Amarillo. A lot of individuals that are running now are focused on downtown. But I have demonstrated, I have a demonstrated record that we're working throughout the city. There is what's called a neighborhood plan that thanks to a collaborative effort with Potter County, we have now a plan in place, a template if you will, that not only will be able to be used in areas like the North Heights, the Barrio, San Jacinto, Eastridge. But even when communities like Westlawn, communities like Olsen begin to deteriorate, we now have a plan that we can execute that will help to have vibrant communities. I think that's very important. Some people believe that it's strong downtowns that make strong cities. I believe strong cities begin with strong communities, and that's what I'm committed to do.o

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

There's got to be a combination, and that's why experience is so important. I know there's been talk about we need to cut here, we need to balance here, we need to use from the existing funds. But we already know that property tax is not the major way we get revenue in the city. So we need to use all the tools that are available to us, and in some cases it's going to be short term bonds. In other cases, it's going to be pay as you go. It is a combination, depending on what the project is, we'll use to accomplish what we need to accomplish.

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

Absolutely. Where we have missed the mark is we have left it for the AEDC to be a one size fits all, and that absolutely does not work. You cannot give, and even the law does not allow you to [give] the same kinds of incentives for certain types of business as it does for others. So what the city has done, what we have done in these past two years, is to develop what I call an economic development toolkit. It is going to use a plethora of tools to be able to entice individuals and companies and businesses, both coming in as well as businesses that are here to grow and to come and to build and be a part of this community. And yes, I think the city council does, while we should not pick winners and losers, we should make available to anybody that wants to increase, wants to come here, a certain level of tools to be able to offer jobs to our citizens.

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

Let me just say that I think we've done some extraordinary work. I think there is a lot of work that has been accomplished that never sees the light of day. Quite honestly there has been a bit of infighting among a couple of members of the council, and it has distracted a lot of the good work that's going on. If I were to give [myself] individually a grade, certainly I would give me and "A." However, as a council because we are a unit, I can't give the entire council an "A," because there have been times that the finger pointing and the name calling and the divisiveness has been so great it has distracted from the mission of the council. Fortunately we know going forward that the majority of the current council elected not to run again. I think going forward we will see a great council with a combination of experienced council members such as myself and then for those that are coming in brand new that have never held public office in municipal government. It is a big job, and it's going to require some experience, some background, working with even innovative and new thought.

As a current council member, what do you offer as a candidate that the other candidates do not have?

I have singularly brought a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience. I've been a county commissioner, and so I know what it's like to focus on one area. I've been the county judge so I know what it's like to focus on the whole. I have the experiences of living north and south, and I have those experiences of going into every community. I pastor a church. There are individuals in our congregation from every area of this community. So what I singularly bring to the council is a vision and sight for all of Amarillo. But not only that. I have a vision for the future. That vision includes looking for collaborative efforts, to work not only with our business and community leaders, but also our educational institutions and other governmental entities. I have done this in the past and I can continue to do this going forward.

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