After 16 years on City Commission, Mayor Brad Pingel steps away
After 16 years of serving on the City Commission, Mayor Brad Pingel is moving on and will have his portrait join the brotherhood of former mayors in the City Commission chambers.
“I went in as Ward 1 City Commissioner and served until 2011, and that’s when I ran for Mayor,” Pingel said.
In the last 16 years, the City of Pampa has seen a number of trials and tribulations, as well as accomplishments. Pingel said it couldn’t have been done without the other Commissioners and City staff.
“I want to make that very clear,” Pingel said. “The City Commission together has put together a great City staff and they get overlooked sometimes. They (City staff) do the day-to-day operations.”
The role of the Mayor and City Commission review recommendations by City staff and either approve, disapprove or modify what the staff recommends.
“We set policy/procedure for the City,” Pingel said. “We don’t go out and write tickets, fine high weeds, fix streets, etc. That’s not the role of the Commission.”
In working with City Manager Shane Stokes and his predecessors, Pingel said each of the four (John Horst, Trevlyn Pitner, Richard Morris, Shane Stokes) he has worked with had their own strengths.
“Being able to work with all four, they all had different strengths that worked well and I truly admire all four and the service they gave to the City of Pampa,” Pingel said. “It’s tough when you’re a City Manager and you have new City Commissioners that come in and handle things differently.”
One of the projects the City staff has brought in while Pingel was on the Commission includes the Operation Community Pride app.
“That was implemented by (former Public Works Director) Donny Hooper, and he really pushed to get that going,” Pingel said. “There are so many benefits from it. It gets tracked by the immediate supervisor and three or four contacts that get to see when a report comes in. That way it doesn’t get left behind. If you put in a request, within a day things are fixed.
Pingel said he has enjoyed working with the various City Commissioners he has worked with, even if they had different opinions.
“As a City Commission, whether I was Mayor or City Commissioner, we always worked well together,” Pingel said. “Bill Allison, Rebecca Holmes, Robert Dixon, Neil Fulton, etc. In my 16 years, I’ve been able to work with a lot of different City Commissioners.”
Pingel said it has been a complete honor to serve the City of Pampa in the last 10 years. Among the challenging times has been the last year.
“We get mandated by the governor and that stuff gets passed down and when you get to make that final statement that ‘a business must close,’ that hurts,” Pingel said. “It really bothered me. But our hands are tied at this point.”
In the last 10 years, one of the biggest accomplishments for the City of Pampa has been the pH20 Water Park.
“It’s a big attraction for Pampa,” Pingel said. “It was mentioned in the report Monday, we’ll never be able to see how much it impacts the city. But when people come from out of town, they are going to get gas, eat or shop downtown. The city benefits from it. We may not see it at the gate, but the benefits are great. Same thing with the golf course (Hidden Hills).”
The Pampa Economic Development Corporation has also seen it’s fair share of progress while Pingel has been on the City Commission.
“I’m very proud of the work the EDC does,” Pingel said. “There’s a lot of things that happen in the background that people don’t know or understand because they (EDC) can’t share that because of contracts or other things they have to keep under wraps.”
Some of the projects Pampa EDC has done include G2X, Keystone and Hobby Lobby (Shops at Cornerstone).
Pampa has seen it’s fair share of challenges during Pingel’s 16-year-run, whether it’s economic turmoil or natural disasters.
“Ice storms definitely cause a lot of problems for the City of Pampa,” Pingel said. “Same with the wildfires. Our firefighters are out protecting city limits, that takes personnel to do that. Then you’ve got somebody that has to stay in Pampa. There’s a big expense to that. City staff does a great job getting grants that helps whenever you have a disaster.”
Another challenge that has come is when social media has an outcry on an issue they are uninformed about.
“As people don’t understand everything that goes on and how city government works, unfortunately over the years I’ve taken a beating, and my family has taken a beating, on Facebook,” Pingel said.
“It hurts. I’m not one that responds much on Facebook, but I’ve always been open and would send a message inviting them to call me. I’m always glad to explain what’s going on. I would say 98 percent of the time if I could explain the whole issue, most of the time, that settles the issue.”
Pingel encourages everyone to ask City Commissioners or come to a meeting to ask the question, because questions from the constituents are important.
One of those hot-button issues over the years has been taxes.
“I’ve always been pretty conservative throughout my time voting on the tax rate,” Pingel said. “There are some years we have come down to bare-bones and only necessary items that have to be funded. I have voted for a tax increase but I was always debating or questioning when tax time came to take some out of fund balance and not increase taxes.”
Pingel said he is familiar with the candidates of each seat and said there will be a learning curve for whoever makes up the City Commission going forward.
“Once they get into their seat and they understand how city government works (it doesn’t happen overnight), I truly believe any of the candidates will be just fine,” Pingel said.
“They will put the City of Pampa first. It doesn’t appear they have an agenda. They just want to get into an office and do their part and what’s best for Pampa.”
Pingel is proud of the relationship he has had with County government over the years to band together for the greater good.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate over the years that we’ve had a pretty good relationship so when a crisis comes or something’s needed for our city with the County on board, we’ve had a good relationship to move forward,” Pingel said.
The most recent example of that relationship came when the dispatches were combined last year.
“That was beneficial not only for the City, but the County,” Pingel said. “The one call center has worked out great and stream-lined things. Especially for 9-1-1.”
Pingel said there wasn’t one accomplishment he could hang his hat on, but that he gave it his all.
“When I came into the office, my whole purpose was to do the very best I could for the City of Pampa,” Pingel said. “I really feel that I have done that for my 16 years. I never had anything to gain from it. I stood in some difficult times and still did what I felt was best for the City of Pampa. I’m proud of that.”
Pingel is married to his wife of 28 years, Suzanne, and the pair have two daughters: Jodi and Lauren.
Pingel, who owns Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors and appreciates his co-workers at the funeral home, will now step aside and enjoy his business and support Pampa the best he can. His final meeting will be on May 10.
The Pampa News would like to thank Mayor Brad Pingel for his 16 years of service and wishes him the best of luck in his upcoming endeavors.