By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

Nine Copperas Cove residents have applied to be on the ballot for the Feb. 10 City Council election.

Council hopefuls had from Dec. 9 through Tuesday to apply for any of the four vacant seats.

The candidates are Cheryl Meredith and Charlie Youngs, vying for Place 1; Michael Zehr and Chuck Downard for Place 3; Danny Palmer and Joseph Solomon seeking Place 4; and Konrad Kohler, Bill Stephens and David Wilson vying for Place 5.

On Dec. 8, in the 52nd District Courtroom, Judge Philip Ziegler called for a special election to once again fill four council seats left vacant by the Nov. 4 recall election.

The recall was the result of a petition from Cove resident Diane Steele, who began collecting signatures from residents on May 27.

Mayor Pro Tem Robert Reeves, Place 3 Councilman Mark Peterson, Place 4 Councilwoman Charlotte Heinze and Place 5 Councilman Ray Don Clayton all were voted out of office on Nov. 4.

Following is some information the nine hopefuls vying for council seats.

Cheryl L. Meredith

Meredith is seeking the Place 1 seat. Meredith is the escrow officer for Land Exchange Abstract and Title in Killeen, where she has worked for 20 years.

"I want responsible growth and a more positive government for the people of Copperas Cove." Meredith said. "I just want what's best for Cove."

She has been a Cove resident since 1984 with husband, retired 1st Sgt. Rick Meredith. The two have two children and eight grandchildren.

Charlie Youngs

Youngs, Meredith's opponent for Place 1, is a former council member who served from 1994 to 1997.

"I feel the citizens have lost faith in our government," Youngs said.

"I'm running on a platform of integrity, ethics and honesty. If we can bring the sense of right and wrong and the sense of being honest with the citizens and earn their faith.

"We have to tell the citizens upfront and be honest with them and not run behind closed doors."

Youngs has served on the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corp. board and the Coryell Central Appraisal District board and worked for the city's planning department.

He retired from the military in 1998 after 27 years. Youngs lives with his wife, Peggy, of 38 years and has one daughter.

Michael Zehr

Zehr filed for Place 3. Zehr's platform is based on moving forward.

"I could make good changes in Cove," Zehr said. He said he believes in lowering taxes.

Zehr has been a resident of Cove since 1973. He is a retired warrant officer in the Army. Zehr is currently the owner of Avalar Fort Hood and Armadillo Properties with wife Denise, a member of Grace United Methodist Church, 1st Calvary Association, Fort Hood Board of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

Zehr and his wife have six grown kids together between Texas and New Mexico.

Charles "Chuck" Downard

Downard filed for Place 3 on the council. Downard is a 22-year retired Army veteran and 18-year retired city employee.

Downard's platform is to reverse the recent increase of bulk trash pickup.

"One of the numerous issues facing the citizens of Copperas Cove is the lost faith in our City Council and I support 100 percent our current mayor's goal of council unity to put the citizens faith back in the Council," Downard said. Downard wants more citizen input and stronger relationships among the city, county, Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation and the Copperas Cove Independent School District.

A Copperas Cove resident for more than 35 years with wife Cora, Downard is the father of five, grandfather of 20 and great-grandfather of eight. Downard is a USO volunteer, 1st Cavalry Division Association, AARP, VFW 8577 and Disabled American Veterans.

Danny Palmer

Palmer, Place 4 candidate, was unavailable for comment.

Joseph Solomon

Solomon also filed for Place 4. Solomon ran for council in the May 10 election that resulted in a runoff election. Solomon said he's sticking to his earlier campaign that focuses on the future.

"I felt that city service and public service you become a servant. I always wanted to serve the city and this is a good opportunity. I could bring a sense of unity and work together with the council, mayor and city manager," he said.

He said he wants to work on accomplishing the city's 10 goals. Solomon is the director of the Refuge Corporation at the Christian House of Prayer, which is a non-profit community service outreach. He is a member of the Greater Copperas Cove Community Action Network. Solomon has been a resident of Cove for 28 years with wife Michelle. He has two children and one grandchild.

Konrad Kohler

Kohler, Place 5 candidate, is running to help make Copperas Cove a city of family living.

"My intent is to work with the mayor, council and staff," Kohler said.

Kohler has been a resident of Cove since 1993 with wife Cynthia and his two stepchildren. Kohler is a 20-year retired veteran and currently a defense contractor on Fort Hood. Kohler is a member of AUSA and Quad A or the Army Aviation Association of America.

Bill Stephens

Stephens filed for Place 5. Stephens was unavailable for comment.

David Wilson

Wilson, Place 5 candidate and former council member, said his main concern is property tax rates.

"One thing I'm concerned about is the drastic increase in appraisal value," Wilson said.

Wilson said instead of going to the taxpayers with bond issues, the city could use property tax revenue. "We should be using growth to fund projects."

Wilson also wants to reverse the bulk trash pick-up fees.

Wilson has been a resident of Cove since 1979 where he was a council member from 1982 to 1989 and 1992-1995.

Wilson has two children with his wife, Susan. He is a small-business owner and was a teacher for 32 years.

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