By Taylor Short

Killeen Daily Herald

Coryell County voters heard from 21 contenders in the March 2 Republican primaries 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 each office-seeker for their four minutes to speak.

Texas House of Representatives hopeful J.D. Sheffield, a Gatesville doctor of 17 years, focused on health care issues and emphasizing his opposition of 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.

Current state Rep. Sid Miller followed Sheffield, hoping to win re-election with examples of his work in protecting agricultural land from annexation during his five successful terms in office.

"I have a pick-up 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."

Darren Yancy is now running for Texas Senate District 22 unopposed after state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, dropped out of the race Jan. 13.

He began by stating his stance as a practicing fiscal and social conservative and that Texas senators should learn to say "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.

For county elections, candidates running against 17-year incumbent judge Susan R. Stephens for the county court at law judge – Joe Rodriguez and John Lee – described their background in law and what they could bring to the court.

Claire Grogan said her experience in administration and accounting would be beneficial in her race against incumbent County Treasurer Donna Medford.

County Clerk Barbara Simpson said since being elected, her office has become more efficient through computerization. Her opponent, Peggy Thompson, said her 30 years of law practice and work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would allow her to serve the county well.

"I also think we ought to arm-twist those commissioners to consider having a satellite office here in Cove," she said.

Candidate for Commissioner of Precinct 2 and life-long 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.

After each person spoke, attendees continued to chat with candidates and pick up signs and flyers to take home.

"The reason we came is because we really didn't know many of them," said Linda Steimer, who said 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."

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