Leaders from Lubbock, Amarillo and Lufkin discuss the future of rural Texas cities

LUBBOCK — Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, Lubbock Alderman Steve Massengale, and Lufkin Mayor Mark Hicks came together Friday afternoon for a panel discussion to discuss their cities’ roles in rural Texas’ challenging future and to set out their desires for the upcoming 88th Texas Legislature.

The discussion, held at Texas Tech’s McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, was part of the Texas Tribune’s event “The Future of Rural Texas” and was moderated by Sewell Chan, the Tribune’s Editor-in-Chief.

Big wins and challenges for towns in rural Texas

Chan began the discussion by asking each representative about the most pressing issues their cities are facing. Massengale discussed the need to keep up with growth by addressing infrastructure in Lubbock, which Chan described as “a town in rural Texas, but a significant town.”

Massengale applauded voters for the passage of a $200 million road bond package on Nov. 8 after she opposed a similar measure in the city of more than 260,000 a year earlier.

“We are grateful that voters supported our recent bond election,” said Massengale. “All growing cities in Texas, as you all know, have to keep up with infrastructure.”

Councilman Steve Massengale

Massengale said Lubbock’s growth has been steady but manageable, but infrastructure still keeps him tossing and turning.

“If you live here in Lubbock, you get a sense that we’re seeing significant growth,” Massengale said. “Lubbock is fortunate that we have a lot of land, we have great transportation infrastructure, and so we find this piece of it attractive and easy to manage as a city government. I think we stay up at night thinking about the infrastructure.