By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
With the passage of the Jan. 2 filing deadline, the field is now set for local candidates running for public office.
Most of the candidates will run unopposed as Republicans will maintain a strong presence in the county.
The biggest battle will be for the District 55 seat, which will be open since state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, has announced her retirement upon completing her ninth term.
Four Republicans have filed for the District 55 seat: Martha Tyroch, Michael Pearce, Ralph Sheffield and John Alaniz.
Whoever wins the March 4 Republican primary will take on Democrat Sam Murphey in November. Murphey will be unopposed in the Democratic primary and become that party's nominee for the general election in November.
Murphey is one of just four Democratic candidates who have filed, a number that includes Democratic congressional candidate Brian Ruiz, who will take on incumbent John Carter.
The two remaining Democrats will take on an incumbent county commissioner. Killeen police officer Phillip Anelli will run against Precinct 1 County Commissioner Richard Cortese. Gil Hollie, a late addition for the Democrats, filed on the final day Wednesday, announcing his candidacy for the Precinct 3 seat, occupied currently by Commissioner Eddy Lange.
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; 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; Constable Edd Melton III for Precinct 4; Lloyd Charping for constable, Precinct 1; and Tom Prado for constable, Precinct 3.
Arthur Resa, chairman of the Bell County Democratic Party, said Wednesday that he agrees the fight for the open District 55 seat is one Murphey can win, no matter which of the four candidates comes out of the primary for the Republicans.
He said people are looking for a change and expects a trickle-down effect from the national level for people upset with Republican leadership. He said Delisi's departure makes this the opportune time to start a comeback for the Democrats of Bell County.
Nancy Boston, chairman of the Bell County Republican Party, said the four candidates filing for the seat will help the party achieve its goal of increasing turnout in the county, especially since the party occupies all the elected positions. She said Wednesday she believes the District 55 race will generate a lot of interest for a county lacking in participation. But she's confident whoever does come out will take the seat come November.
"It will be quite a challenge for a Democrat to win that seat," Boston said. "I think we have a very good chance at keeping that seat."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568