Massengale grew up around City Hall, touts experience as he runs for mayor

Steve Massengale, mayoral candidate in Lubbock, Texas

Steve Massengale, mayoral candidate, courtesy photo

As he runs for mayor in the May 4 election, Steve Massengale remembers the day Texas Governor Greg Abbott came to Lubbock to reopen businesses in the entire state after COVID.

While at Montelongo’s restaurant, the governor announced via Twitter, “I just announced Texas is OPEN 100 percent. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.”

In the months leading up to that moment, Massengale had been tasked by then-mayor Dan Pope to lead LERT, the Lubbock Economic Recovery Task Force, and develop a plan to reopen Lubbock businesses. Massengale has been the District 4 Councilman since May 2016.

“Especially from the local policy level, it was really surreal,” he remembered.

Lubbock was aggressively seeking a way to keep people healthy and businesses out of bankruptcy as they were ordered to shut down.

The idea was businesses could follow certain precautions to prevent the spread of COVID and re-open with a special certification from the city. A LERT sticker on the front door of a business would be the seal of approval. Some of those stickers are still around.

“I think it at least created the culture and the idea that we could reopen safely. That sticker on someone’s business was the confidence that you could walk in and do business,” Massengale said.

The plan never came fully to fruition because of statewide restrictions. But it was still a success in showing the “can do” attitude in Lubbock, Massengale said.

“The way we handled reopening helped influence the governor to come to Lubbock to reopen Texas,” Massengale said.

Race for mayor: This is one story in a series about the 2024 race for mayor. Click here to get an overview and links to other stories in the series.

Grew up at city hall

Massengale’s father, Robert Massengale, was the chief finance officer for Lubbock before he became the director of Lubbock Power and Light.

“My dad was a career city employee. I grew up at city hall. I’ve been around elected officials my entire life. I understand the organization pretty well. You know, leadership is important to me,” said the younger Massengale.

(Back in 2002, the New York Times wrote about Massengale’s dad, calling him, tongue-in-cheek, the money launderer of Lubbock. The older Massengale was hired to clean up 7.6 million pennies after a big truck crashed and spilled them all over the roadway and into the West Texas dirt.)

A power station in Lubbock still carries the Massengale name in honor of the mayoral candidate’s dad.

Learning and doing

Massengale graduated from Monterey High School and studied at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech. After earning a degree, he started a company called Campus Design which later led to a production facility called Advanced Graphics.

The company does screen printing and manufactures promotional and branded products. Massengale is also in the retail business with two locations of The Matador where you can find “everything Texas Tech.”

The store’s website says, “The Matador’s owners bleed red and black!”

Massengale thinks the business is essential for his public service, saying, “It helps me bring to the table a good business sense to make sure we’re making good decisions.”

It also made for some fun moments. In 2022, a Texas Christian University coach took a dig at Tech athletic programs on Twitter – saying they were building their brand in a desert. For a time, the cactus emoji became the unofficial battle cry of Red Raider fans.

On his campaign website, there’s a photo of Massengale standing with Tech football coach Joey McGuire holding a t-shirt depicting a cartoon cactus decked out like it’s a Red Raider fan.

In his first-ever campaign video when running for City Council, he said, “You may not know me personally, but if you ever bought apparel at Texas Tech games, you’ve done business with me.”

The pitch was simple enough. He grew up in, did business in, and was raising a family in District 4.

“I’m asking for your support in the May election,” he said in the 2016 video.

“I grew up in this community. I love this community. You know, I’m wired for public service, and I really enjoy serving the community.”

His desire to be mayor “would fulfill a dream of mine,” he said to

Time after time in his social media videos he emphasizes lower taxes and staying on budget. And where there has been a tax increase, he offers an explanation such as the three new police patrol stations.

The priorities

When asked what’s the city’s biggest issue, Massengale responded, “Everyone’s going to tell you public safety.”

“I think people are frustrated with crimes in their neighborhood,” he said.

The Council will likely hire a police chief before the election, he said. From there, he thinks it’s important for the Council to hold the new chief accountable.

“I’m proud of the work that I did with the public safety improvements project,” he said. In addition to three patrol stations, the Lubbock Police Department now resides in new headquarters.

“I think second on the list, and not too far behind, is infrastructure. We’ve made a lot of progress on infrastructure with the street bond from 2022, but there’s just so many more needs,” Massengale said.

It had been 13 years since the previous road bond to improve 34th and other streets.

“The Council’s got to continue to be focused on infrastructure,” he said.

Next would be business development, he said, saying Lubbock needs more red carpet and less red tape.

‘I was given the task’

When City Hall moved to a new building – Citizens Tower – it created new opportunities for South Plains College and Texas Tech, Massengale said.

“Citizens Tower wasn’t my project, but I was given the task to get it done,” Massengale said. The project was initiated by a previous Council, and because the money had already been borrowed there was no backing out. Massengale led the committee to get it done.

He said it was not finished on time, but it “certainly was finished in budget.”

Moving electric customers to competition from Lubbock Power and Light was a good decision, he thought.

“People forget how many people complained that when LP&L bought Xcel’s assets – that they were furious, as a matter of fact. They lost the ability to choose their electric provider,” Massengale said.

The buyout of Xcel Energy assets in Lubbock, announced in 2009, started in 2010.

Joining ERCOT was set in motion in 2015 – before Massengale’s time on the City Council. But the switch to a competitive market was during his time – the fall of 2023.

“I think we need to make sure everyone gets transitioned successfully. I’ve heard there’s still some challenges,” he said, adding there have been problems for people who own multiple properties.

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Author: James Clark- James Clark is the associate editor of Lubbock Lights. He worked in radio, television and digital media for a combined total of more than 30 years. He was Director of Digital News Content at KAMC, KLBK and for nearly 10 years.