By Taylor Short
The Cove Herald
Local and state candidates for the March 2 Republican primary presented their platforms at a meet-and-greet event Tuesday night.
Dozens of residents mingled with the candidates at the Copperas Cove library before Coryell County Republican Party Chairman Ed Thompson introduced the office-seekers. Each got four minutes to speak.
Greg Schannep, the regional director for Texas District 31 U.S. Rep. John Carter, said the congressman was snowed in Washington, D.C., but he expects great changes after the election.
In state races, Darren Yancy is now running for Texas Senate District 22, which contains Coryell and McLennan counties, unopposed after state Sen. Kip Averitt R-Waco, citing health difficulties, dropped out of the race on Jan. 13.
Because Averitt missed the Dec. 30 deadline to be removed from the race, his name will still appear on the ballot, but Yancy touted a campaign sign that read "Skip Kip."
Yancy said he is a practicing fiscal and social conservative and would have no problem saying "No" to government spending.
"One of my goals going into the state Senate is not to make Texas an economic powerhouse, but the economic powerhouse," he said.
Texas House Rep. Sid Miller, District 59, aimed to win re-election support with examples of his work in protecting agricultural land from annexation during his five terms in office.
"I have a pickup that has over half a million miles and some old suits in my closet, but that doesn't make me a conservative," he said. "I'm a conservative because I believe in protecting your family values."
Opposing Miller in the primary is J.D. Sheffield, a Gatesville doctor of 17 years. He's focused on health care issues and emphasized his opposition to socialized medicine and unfair health insurance premiums.
"I want to restore freedom of choice to our health care market, starting with insurance because insurance is a state issue, not a federal issue," he said.
Nancy Robbins, representing Texas gubernatorial hopeful Debra Medina, said Medina needs support to beat U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry.
"Debra Medina wants to eliminate property tax," she said. "It's got a nice economic benefit, which would be $3 billion in net income increase in the first year alone."
Daniel Reyna, son of Justice Felipe Reyna in the Texas 10th Court of Appeals, Place 3, rallied to support his father's re-election, saying his judgments come from his conscience and that he applies the law fairly.
Another contender for the court of appeals seat, Al Scoggins, said his 26 years of trial court experience would allow him to serve the court well.
For county elections, candidates running against 17-year incumbent Judge Susan R. Stephens for county court-at-law judge - Joe Rodriguez and John Lee - described their background in law and what they could bring to the court.
Stephens said she is aware of the problem with overcrowded jails in Coryell County and the loss of money from incarcerating inmates in other counties, but said her court handles many dockets and works as efficiently as possible.
Claire Grogan said her experience in administration and accounting would be beneficial in the race against incumbent County Treasurer Donna Medford.
Incumbent County Clerk Barbara Simpson said she was first elected, her office has become more efficient through computerization. Her opponent, Peggy Thompson, said she would serve the county with her 30 years of law practice and work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"I also think we ought to arm-twist those commissioners to consider having a satellite office here in Cove," she said. "If it's a matter of money, I think we ought to look at it harder."
Candidate for commissioner of Precinct 2 and lifelong Coryell County resident Dennis Rabbe said his background in environmental science could lend a different viewpoint to court decisions while incumbent Commissioner Daren Moore asked for re-election support to continue offering the county important services.
In the race for Precinct 4 county commissioner, construction company owner Justin Latham said he would be a great challenger to the current Precinct 4 commissioner, Elizabeth Taylor, with his budgeting experience.
Taylor said she has been proud to serve Coryell County as commissioner for the past three years and that she would continue to fight for money for the county while working with the Central Texas Council of Governments.
County Judge John Firth, District 52 Clerk Janice Gray and Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace John Guinn are running unopposed but spoke about their commitment to their offices.
After each person spoke, attendees continued to chat with candidates and pick up signs and fliers to take home.
"I like Sheffield's idea of looking out for the patient to take care of us," said resident Cary Medford, who also liked Guinn's ideas for reducing the number of inmates using electronic monitoring.
Another resident, Don Grogan, said he also liked Sheffield's take on health care because it's a "pressing issue."
"The reason we came is because we really didn't know many of them," said attendee Linda Steimer, who added that she was there to support Thompson but also hear the others. "It was just to come by and see what they had to offer, and as citizens, I think that's important."
Early voting begins Feb. 16, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Coryell County Courthouse Annex at 201 S. Seventh St. in Gatesville and at the Coryell County Annex at 201 S. Second St. in Copperas Cove.
Contact Taylor Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcove.