Runners in the race to Stephenville City Hall are eagerly awaiting the start of early voting, now just weeks away.

Monday's deadline to file for a place on the May 14 ballot drew one more candidate to the council race, Doug Svien.

Svien's application adds up to three political newcomers looking to fill the seat of Don Zelman, who announced he will not seek a second term.

But the nearly packed ballot does leave one council member - Alan Nash, place 5 - without an opponent.

The two other seats on the city ballot have drawn challengers who will vie to take the seats of two incumbents.

Place 1

Incumbent Joe Cude, place 1, will face off against newcomer Jennifer Garrison.

Cude, a former mathematics professor at Tarleton State University, is retired. He and his wife, Pat, a retired Tarleton instructor, moved to the city in 1972.

While Cude is seeking his second term in place 1, a victory in May would mark his fourth term on the Stephenville City Council. He served two terms in place 3, from 2001-05.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to have served three terms on the Stephenville City Council and would like to serve a fourth," Cude said.

Cude said in seeking another term, he hopes to see a few stalled projects put into motion.

"I would like to see some major projects start to take shape in the next two years," Cude said, adding that some of the projects he is advocating for date back to his previous terms in place 3.

Cude said his top priorities are a new library and senior citizens center. He said his previous two terms of service as one of two Erath County representatives with the Area Agency on Aging raised his awareness on the importance of problems and projects relating to senior citizens, and his educational background tells him a new library is a must for the city's future.

Finally, Cude said the city is also faced with a "big issue" when it comes to street repairs. He said when he was first elected in 2001, the city budgeted about $200,000 for repairs, an amount that more than doubled last year. But a tough economy sidelined street repairs during the current fiscal year, and Cude said he wants to see repairs resume, before the city falls "further behind."

Garrison is a stay-at-home mom with three kids. She and her husband, Curt, run several businesses from their home.

Garrison has lived in Stephenville for almost two decades after moving to the city in 1992 to attend Tarleton State University.

"I love this town and I want to make sure it continues to progress and get better for our kids," Garrison said. "I think I can provide a fresh perspective."

Place 3

After incumbent Don Zelman, place 3, announced he would not seek another term on the council, two newcomers jumped to file their applications for a shot at the seat. Then on Monday, another political hopeful threw his name into the race.

Doug Svien has called Stephenville home for more than two decades and said he plans to live out the rest of his life in the city. He made a previous run for the SISD board of trustees, but said on Monday that his ongoing experience at the state capitol adds up to an asset for the city.

"I deal with Austin a lot," Svien said. "In the current legislative session, the tax and income situation is becoming drastic. Taxes are going to be a big issue in the next few years."

Svien is chief executive officer for The Company of Rock House. He said his job takes him to the state capital for a number of issues, including Medicaid funding and in regards to a number of state and federal agencies such as the Health and Human Services Commission and Area Agency on Aging. He said he also deals directly with the state legislature on issues relating to long-term and community care for the aging and disabled.

Svien said he is a "fiscal conservative" who believes the city should exercise caution when spending money.

"The city needs to continue to provide good services, but we need to be cautious in funding and mindful of the impact that will be felt by taxpayers over the coming three-four years," Svien said.

Joe Bramblett was raised in Stephenville and spent several years in Dallas before moving back to the area six years ago.

He was the first in line when filing for a place on the ballot began in mid-February.

"I have wanted to get involved with local politics for a long time and this is an opportunity," Bramblett said.

Bramblett also said he believes a few issues, including street repairs, are being overlooked.

"We need to keep taxes low and projects at a minimum, but our streets are something we need to look at," he said.

Meanwhile, longtime Stephenville resident Mary Beach-McGuire, who graduated from Stephenville High School in 1997, plans to give Bramblett a run for his money.

After earning her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Rio Grande in Ohio and a law degree from Ohio Northern University, McGuire and her family returned to the city in 2009.

"We made the decision to come back to Stephenville because it's a great place to raise a family," she said. "And I hope to work to keep it that way."

McGuire also said she is in favor of finding a cost-effective option for recycling.

Place 7

Incumbent Martha Taylor, a local attorney, is ready to serve her second term in place 7.

In learning she has drawn an opponent - political newcomer Colby Loyd - Taylor said she looks forward to a spirited campaign. She also said her first term has been a pleasure.

"The council, city staff and the citizen volunteers that serve on committees, boards and commissions have worked many long hours towards protecting our tax dollars, improving public safety and enhancing the quality of life for our residents," Taylor said in late February. "It is always encouraging to see young citizens that want to become involved, and while I have never met Mr. Lloyd, I welcome him to the race and look forward to the campaign."

Loyd initially filed to run against Alan Nash, but the Tarleton State University student quickly changed his mind.

Either way, Loyd said he is running for council to "give back" to the community.

"I think the council has wasted a lot of money lately - like when they built that sidewalk around the polluted river and that 4-foot deep swimming pool," Lloyd also said, referring to the Bosque River Trail, which offers walkers, runners and bicyclists a path that winds across town along the Bosque River, and to Stephenville City Park. The last day to register to vote in the upcoming election is Thursday, April 14.

Early voting will being Monday, May 2 and continue through Tuesday, May 10.

Election Day is Saturday, May 14.

For more information, visit the web site for Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade - www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/2011dates.shtml.