By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

In perhaps the final forum event before the election, much of the talk wasn't about what the candidates said, but about who didn't attend.

Republican House District 55 candidate Ralph Sheffield was a no-show Thursday night at the forum put on by the NAACP at the Killeen Community Center, as was District 31 U.S. Rep. John Carter.

Both their Democratic counterparts, Sam Murphey and Brian Ruiz, were in attendance to answer questions.

Republican District 59 Rep. Sid Miller noted that he seemed to be the only Republican in attendance. His opponent, Ernie Casbeer, was in attendance as well.

A representative from Carter's office said the office never received an invitation.

Killeen Branch NAACP president Rev. Roy T. Sampson said he was disappointed in Sheffield's absence.

"Mr. Sheffield, I'm disappointed in ? He's always paired up with Mr. Murphey. They've been everywhere. I'm disappointed that he didn't come tonight. He's been everywhere else, so I expect him to come here, too.

"They all got letters."

Representatives from Sheffield's campaign insist that they respectfully declined the invitations from NAACP representatives Rosa Hereford and Brockley Moore.

"Lie, lie, lie," Hereford, a well-known Democrat, said late Thursday night. "I spoke with someone in Sheffield's office. He said I will get in contact, and we'll get back to you. On Tuesday, Brockley called. He said they hadn't made up their minds.

"I do not tell lies. When they didn't respond to the letter, we called each candidate. Sheffield has been hiding out. He has not respected us enough (to inform us that he was not coming)."

Brockley Moore said Thursday he spoke to Sheffield's staff as well.

"(The staff) told me he (Sheffield) was going to be there," Moore said.

Hereford said they never spoke to Sheffield personally, but did mention speaking to Will Franklin, Sheffield's campaign manager.

"On two separate occasions earlier this week, our campaign spoke to the leadership of the NAACP and informed them that Ralph already had another commitment," Franklin said Thursday night. "Ralph and our entire campaign staff have nothing but the deepest respect for the NAACP and regret this misunderstanding."

In an e-mail forwarded to the Killeen Daily Herald, Franklin stated Tuesday

that Sheffield would not be at the event and the NAACP was aware of that.

As for the forum, Murphey hit the points he often mentions, noting that he's not an advocate for school vouchers, and adding that school funding will be his top priority in Austin.

"School vouchers are not the way you need to go. It sends the money off to private schools," Murphey said. "We can't have teachers getting paid what they are, I think we need to get rid of high-pressure tests."

Candidates also condemned the concept of racial profiling.

"The state has laws against racial profiling," Miller said. "(The problem occurs when) the local level does not police their own, and they don't follow the rules."

Miller added that if there is documented evidence of such actions to bring them to his attention.

Murphy agreed.

"There is no excuse," he said.

Contact Justin Cox at or (254) 501-7568.

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