It’s still too early to officially file for a spot on the November 2018 ballot - that takes place from Nov. 11 through Dec. 11 - but that’s not stopping several people from throwing their hats into the ring for Erath County sheriff.

Clell Murray, Bobby Harpole, Paul Tyus and Sheriff Matt Coates have filed their campaign treasurer with the Erath County clerk’s office. 

The sheriff’s race takes place every four years, but in December 2016 - just months after he was re-elected - Sheriff Tommy Bryant committed suicide.

County officials immediately appointed Coates as sheriff through November 2018 when the next general election will take place. The winner of that race will serve as sheriff for two years before the sheriff’s race gets back to a four-year cycle.

The E-T interviewed two of the four men who say they want to be sheriff. Paul Tyus is traveling as part of hurricane relief efforts and was not available for an interview, but his campaign treasurer Renee Wilson confirmed that he is in the running. 

Matt Coates declined to comment for this story.     

Clell Murray

Clell Murray isn’t giving up on his bid to become sheriff. 

At 56, he is running for the office a second time in just two years. Murray lost a challenge in 2016 to Bryant, but hopes this time will have a happier ending. 

“The people who supported me in the last race didn’t want me to give up and wanted me to run again,” Murray said. “I have the signs and I have the training to do the job. I just need to get elected.”

Murray went on to say the department needs more transparency.

“The people of Erath County need to know what’s happening at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “They need to trust and know what their law enforcement officers are about.”  

Murray is currently a patrol sergeant at the Tarleton State University Police Department and has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Tarleton.

He has been working for the TSU police department since 1991 after a short stint at the Erath County Sheriff's Office.

Bobby Harpole

Bobby Harpole spent 47 years in law enforcement - and now - at 71, he wants to become sheriff. 

“I am running because of the morale of the officers and the mismanagement of funds,” Harpole said. “I want to clean up the sheriff’s office and restore faith in the leadership in order to better serve the people of Erath County.”

Harpole spent 35 years with the Department of Public Safety and moved to Stephenville in 1980 as a patrol sergeant.

He retired from DPS in 2003 and went to work a year later for the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, retiring in 2014 as a captain. 

“I will listen to what the people say and what the deputies say,” Harpole said. “I want to be the kind of sheriff who knows how their wives and children are doing.” 

Harpole, Murray and Tyus will run as Republicans. If no Democrat files for office, the race could be decided in the March 6 primary.