COPPERAS COVE – Despite several empty seats at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, Copperas Cove's mayoral candidates and Place 1 candidates spent Monday night giving their stances on important city issues.

With a two-minute introduction for each candidate and two-minute limits per question, many of the questions posed to the candidates regarded actions that can be taken to help foster the growth of the city, the relationships between the city and entities within the city and the advocacy of Copperas Cove's needs for state and national representatives.

Each candidate gave similar responses to each of the 18 questions delivered by moderator County Judge John Firth, with the U.S. Highway 190 northeast and southeast bypass at the top of the priority list.

The candidates were asked what issues the council should advocate through the elected U.S. congressman that would serve to benefit Copperas Cove.

Place 1 candidates Charlie Youngs and Mark Peterson and mayoral candidate John Hull told attendees they would lobby for the U.S. 190 bypass projects, but mayoral candidate Roger "Odie" O'Dwyer mentioned a possible medical center in the city.

O'Dwyer said building a medical center in Copperas Cove would be a benefit for residents seeking treatment who have issues traveling between Cove and Killeen, Temple or Waco.

"There is money there and I think the city can capitalize on it and get one of those facilities built here and staffed by our residents," O'Dwyer said.

The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce's governmental affairs committee hosted the political forum to highlight issues important for the residents of Cove.

We just sat down and looked at ongoing things that are pertinent to Copperas Cove," George Willey of the Chamber's governmental affairs committee said about formulating questions for the candidates. "Copperas Cove has unique dynamics because of its proximity to Fort Hood and also some of the things in regard to issues that have come up recently and how they would address some of those things."

Sandy Vegh of Copperas Cove said he was familiar with all the candidates, but came out to the forum to see if their stances on certain issues were in line with his.

"One of the things is to make sure they get along, work together and work for the best interests of the city," Vegh said.

Early voting began Monday and will continue through May 6 with election day on May 9.

Read more in Thursday's Cove Herald.

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