Shelbourne, Murphy pick up police

association backing

By SARA VANDEN BERGE

News Editor

Three days before voters are scheduled to head to the polls to vote in the city election, the Stephenville Police Officer Association (SPOA) announced its endorsement for candidates running for Stephenville City Council.

For City Council Place 1 the association has endorsed the candidacy of challenger Pat Shelbourne. Shelbourne is facing off against incumbent Cyndi Godwin.

“We feel that Mr. Shelbourne’s experience as a school administrator has given him a great deal of insight into the workings of government,” James Gresham, SPOA president, said. “Even though he has only lived in Stephenville a few years, Mr. Shelbourne has an understanding of the town that rivals any candidate.”

Gresham said the association was also impressed with Shelbourne’s understanding of the public safety issues facing Stephenville, especially in regards to drug use and its relation to crime.

“His willingness to learn about the issues and the various solutions to them was quite clear,” Brandon Boen, SPOA vice president said. “He has learned a great deal about the community.”

For City Council Place 7 the association has endorsed incumbent Mark Murphy. Murphy is being challenged by former councilman Robert Burns and Virginia Able.

“Mr. Murphy has a strong voting record when it comes to public safety,” Gresham said. “He is a friend of law enforcement.”

Gresham said the endorsement was made because of “Murphy’s willingness to learn and understand the issues.”

“Even if we don’t necessarily agree on the issues, Mr. Murphy is always willing to learn and to explore them,” Boen said. “Mr. Murphy doesn’t flip-flop, he explores the issue, then takes a stand.”

Two candidates running unopposed also received support from SPOA, Nancy Hunter for Place 3 and Alan Nash for Place 5.

“Even though Ms. Hunter and Mr. Nash are unopposed this term, we believe it’s important to affirm their candidacy as well,” Gresham said. “Their service to the city has been exemplary and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Prior to announcing the endorsements, the SPOA held a candidate forum where citizens had the opportunity to meet each candidate and hear their positions on law enforcement and public safety issues.

“It was important for us to learn as much about these candidates as possible before we voted,” Gresham said. “The association feels very strongly that these candidates will serve the citizens of Stephenville well if elected.”

Election Day is Saturday.

Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.

Godwin, Abel, Burns confident even

without endorsement

By DOUG MYERS Managing Editor

On the day that the city’s police officer association endorsed her opponent, incumbent Stephenville City Council member Cyndi Godwin said she’s put her candidacy in the hands of a higher being.

“I’m going to pray that God is in control and that He will put the right person in each seat,” Godwin said.

The Stephenville Police Officer Association endorsed Godwin’s challenger in the Place 1 race - Pat Shelbourne - and incumbent Mark Murphy in the Place 7 race, brushing aside Murphy’s two challengers, Robert Burns and Virginia Abel.

“I would just like to say that whatever the police association wants to do is their business, but my trust is still in the people,” Godwin said. “I have faith that they’re (voters) going to do whatever is in their heart - that they’re not going to be told who to vote for by anyone. That they just need to trust their hearts and vote for who they believe will do the best job, no matter what.”

Shelbourne said he’s grateful for the association’s endorsement.

“I have tried to learn as much as I can about the issues facing Stephenville, and will continue to address these issues if elected,” Shelbourne said. “Drug use and the crime it spawns is a blight on our community and nation. I appreciate what our law enforcement, fire and EMS professionals do to maintain public safety.”

Meanwhile, Murphy said he appreciates the police officer association’s support.

“I’ve always been a strong proponent of public safety, including the fire department,” Murphy said. “To paraphrase Malcolm Cross, public safety is the single most important function we have as a council and government. My voting record reflects that.

“I also feel that all city employees are part of our team to keep Stephenville a great place to live. It is a tough job to balance the interest of the taxpayers and being a good steward of their money with trying to keep quality city staff. Efficiency is very important in providing services to our citizens, and I think our council has done a decent job.”

Abel, who has been battling bronchitis, said she doesn’t put much weight behind the endorsements.

“I think everybody’s entitled to endorse whoever they want,” Abel said.

Abel said her campaign is “going great” and that she feels good about her chances when votes are tallied after Saturday’s Election Day.

Burns, who noted he has the lead in an unofficial poll on the Empire-Tribune’s Web site, said he likes his chances of being elected because he has spoken with a number of citizens who have said they plan to go to the polls and vote for him.

“It’s always the will of the people and the will of the people will determine who represents them, as it should be,” Burns said.

When previously on the city council, Burns said he was supportive of the needs of the public safety departments, including adding several levels of rank within the police and the fire departments.

Burns said he plans to ensure that public safety remains a priority within the city if he’s elected.

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.