By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Monday was the first day to file for the primary election, giving county and state hopefuls just about a month to throw their names into the ring.
On Monday, 18 of the 19 likely Republican candidates officially filed during a party meeting at the old Bell County Courthouse in downtown Belton.
Elsewhere, one candidate filed as a Democrat seeking the State District 55 seat being vacated by state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple.
Republicans who filed for the District 55 seat included Martha Tyroch, Michael Pearce and Ralph Sheffield. John Alaniz expressed his intention to seek the office, but did not officially file Monday. Other GOP members filing for office included 27th District Court Judge Joe Carroll; 426th District Judge Fancy Jezek; 146th District Court Judge Rick Morris; District Attorney Henry Garza; County Attorney Rick Miller; Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith; Tax Assessor/Collector Sharon Long; Precinct 1 County Commissioner Richard Cortese and Precinct 3 Commissioner Eddy Lange; Justice of the Peace David Barfield, Precinct 3, place 1; Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin, Precinct 4, place 1; Constable Luis Corez, Precinct 1; Constable Roger Laird, incumbent for Precinct 2, Gordy McQuire for Precinct 2 and Constable Edd Melton III for Precinct 4.
Nancy Boston, the party's county chairman, said she was thrilled with the strong turnout, which packed the court Monday night, standing room only.
"I think the Republican Party is alive and well," Boston said after the meeting. "I'm glad to see the enthusiasm and the attendance. We have a very good group of elected officials, and we have a very good group of volunteers who are really involved and engaged."
With Republicans holding 30 of 30 elected positions in the county, Boston said the focus has shifted to educating the public and getting them involved.
"It's not just electing the members," Boston said. "It's educating the electorate and getting them interested in voting in the elections."
Bell County Democratic Party chairman Arthur Resa said Sam Murphey, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, notified him of his intent to seek office.
"He's a candidate that is well-balanced," Resa said Monday night. "He can bring west and east Bell County together."
Early jockeying for the District 55 seat began in September when Delisi announced that she would not seek re-election upon completion of her ninth term. A week later, two men stated their intent to run, followed closely by two more possible candidates.
On Monday, Temple restaurant owner Ralph Sheffield officially filed his candidacy for the District 55 post, which represents most of Bell County, excluding only Killeen and the western corner of the county. The line between districts 54 and 55 is the Killeen/Harker Heights shared city limit.
Sheffield will be on the Republican ballot for the 2008 primary election on March 4. He has been a restaurateur for 32 years in Bell County and is owner of Las Casas Restaurant and Catering in Temple.
Sheffield grew up in Waco, and he and his wife Debbie have raised their family in Temple and have been active volunteers across Bell County for many years. In 2002-2003, Sheffield was elected statewide president of the Texas Restaurant Association to head its members efforts in advocating their issues in the legislative session. He currently serves as vice chair to the Association's Education Foundation.
In September, Murphey, of Harker Heights, said he was considering running, and Alaniz, of Temple, said he intended to file for Delisi's soon-empty seat.
Murphey has lived in Harker Heights for the past 44 years. Alaniz, a Republican, has lived in Temple for the past 22 years.
Murphey said in September that he believed he had support from fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans and independents.
Murphey had a 22-year career in the Army, followed by 16 years working in Congressman Edwards' office. He has served on the Harker Heights Planning and Zoning Commission and as president of the Central Texas-Fort Hood chapter of the Association of the United States Army. He also has worked in various roles with the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.
Alaniz said he had been considering running for public office for a long time. He also has a service-oriented resume, including his current positions on the Texas Association of Business board of directors, the Central Texas Workforce board of directors, the Servant Leadership Institute of Central Texas board of directors, King's Daughters Hospital Association and the Temple Independent School District Advisory Task Force.
Michael V. Pearce, 37, of Harker Heights, and Martha Tyroch, 54, of Temple, also stated their intent to run in October.
Pearce has spent his career in the military and classroom. A Marine veteran, Pearce taught social studies in the Killeen Independent School District for 10 years before resigning in July to devote more time to building his business. He sells a PowerPoint presentation that is a technology-based U.S. history curriculum.
Pearce cited recent activity that also qualifies him for the elected official position. In 2004, Pearce served as the National Public Relations Coordinator for Catholics Against Kerry where he was interviewed on a series of radio talk programs, including the Michael Reagan Show. He also has served as the vice president of the Bell County Young Republicans, an election judge, precinct chair, 1998 Republican delegate to the state convention in Fort Worth and a substitute talk show host for Col. Hugh Shine's Cen-Tex Today program.
Tyroch also touted her experience as qualifications for the job because she served on the Planning and Zoning Commission in Temple from 1991 to 1994 and was elected to the District 3 seat on the Temple City Council in May 2000. She has served as mayor pro-tem the past three years.
Tyroch also serves on the Central Texas Workforce Board of Directors and has been involved in other city boards and commissions in the past, including the Parks and Recreation Committee and Capital Improvement Committee. She said those activities have taught her to be a leader.
The last day to file for office is Jan. 2, 2008. To file to run for state representative, visit the respective county party office between those dates.
The Republican Party of Bell County headquarters is at 725 S. General Bruce Drive in Temple. The phone number is (254) 771-2923. It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
The Bell County Democratic Party has yet to open an office. Resa said party members will meet Dec. 13 to consider opening one. For more information, call Arthur Resa at (254) 541-7456 or e-mail RESATEJANO@aol.com.
Contact Justin Cox at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7568