Candidates for two Stephenville City Council seats plan to spend the final week leading to Saturday’s Election Day talking to voters and explaining their positions.

However, they have no plans to trash - or talk bad - about each other.

In fact, the candidates are highly complimentary of one another.

In other words: May the best man or woman win.

“There is nothing I dislike about my opponent,” challenger Pat Shelbourne said of Place 1 incumbent Cyndi Godwin. “The voters will decide, based on her actions on the council the past two years, whether to re-elect her to the position or to elect me to represent them.”

“Likewise, I have nothing against my opponent,” Godwin said. “I don’t know him personally, but he seems to be a likeable man.”

“I’m not saying” anything bad, Place 7 challenger Virginia Abel said, about her two opponents - incumbent Mark Murphy and former council member Robert Burns.

Ditto for Murphy and Burns when asked if they dislike anything about the political positions of their opponents.

“I won’t say anything negative about my opponents,” Murphy said. “I think they are good people, but I just wish they had run in another place.”

“I do not feel that it would be prudent to provide an answer to this question,” Burns said. “In fact I am disappointed that the Empire-Tribune would even ask or expect an answer to the question. I would be disappointed if any candidate were to answer the question. I was taught at an early age this was not acceptable behavior.”

The candidates, however, aren’t shy to tout their experience as reasons for being elected.

Godwin said her experience on the council the past two years is a top reason for voters to re-elect her.

“I don’t feel the need to list all my experiences, but I’ve had many jobs,” said Godwin, who previously worked in the Stephenville Independent School District for more than eight years and now babysits her grandchildren at home.

“But,” Godwin said, “the past two years experience on the council will serve as the best experience to qualify me as your servant to the city.”

She said she possesses “the heart to see (that) the young people get the things they need, as well as the elderly.”

Shelbourne, on the other hand, said he’s not familiar with Godwin’s background and experience.

“But my experience includes over 30 years in business and operations in both the public and private arena, serving as a Controller, public school Business Manager, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations, experience as an auditor, and experience in the payroll and employee benefits field,” said Shelbourne, a licensed Texas Certified Public Accountant.

“I have both the desire and the time to devote to serving as a member of the Stephenville City Council, and am looking forward to the opportunity if the voters choose to elect me.”

“Being a newcomer as well as in the learning stages of running for city council separates myself from my opponents who are highly experienced in city government,” said Abel, who, unlike Place 7 opponents Murphy and Burns, has never served on the council.

However, Abel said, she is “trainable” and possesses “strong leadership skills” that are necessary as a council member. She noted she has been involved in the community for 29 years, including as a substitute teacher, president of the Erath County 4-H Parents and Friends Association, and member of Stephenville High School’s Campus Improvement Team. She’s also a 29-year active life member of the Ladies Auxiliary Post 9181 of Stephenville and a 16-year endowed member of the Order of the Eastern Stars Chapter 801.

“The future of the city is very important to me,” Abel said.

Burns said 37 years “of, real world, business experience managing projects and budgets, along with my daily work of resolving customer issues and working with city, county and state elected officials, provides the best background for making informed decisions.”

Burns said his experience serving on various boards “have provided me with insight to the needs of a very wide range of issues and perspectives within our city.”

Boards that Burns has served on have included the Stephenville City Council, Erath County United Way, Erath County Senior Citizens, Texan Club, Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, Stephenville Senior Citizens, Stephenville Soccer Association, and Stephenville Athletic Booster Club.

“My strong points include the ability to build strong team relations, providing leadership, being willing to invest the extra time to understand the issues, and the ability to make fact based decisions. I feel that my current and past involvements shows a willingness to give back to the community,” Burns said.

Meanwhile, Murphy said he believes he has a “good shot at winning “because I am the best person for the job, you know where I stand on issues, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some good things for Stephenville.”

“If the voters agree, I may have the honor of serving them for another term,” Murphy said. “It took me a year to get my ‘feet wet’ and I really wanted to do a lot in a short time. However, I’ve learned when to stick to my guns and when to compromise for the sake of teamwork.”

Murphy said he plans to continue to work “on getting a swimming pool, library, senior center and rec facility.”

“We will continue to protect our water quality and quantity, fix the streets and stormwater drainage, and get a new restroom in the park,” Murphy said. “These are some of the items this current council has been working on.”

When asked if she feels good about her chances of winning, Abel said, “Yes I do.”

“I feel that if the good people of Stephenville who have said they were committed to support my election efforts turn out to vote, then yes I have a very good chance of prevailing,” said Burns, one of Murphy’s two opponents.

“But ultimately in a democratic society the election is decided by the people, voting for who best represents their views and opinions,” Burns said.

Godwin, like Murphy an incumbent, said she feels like she has a “great chance to win.”

“I just want to be a voice for the people,” Godwin said. “I feel like I have a heart for the city. And I feel like the past two years have been a definite learning experience and I’m ready to learn even more.”

Shelbourne, Godwin’s Place 1 opponent, said the voters of Stephenville will determine the winner.

“My job is to get to know as many voters as possible, and let them know me,” Shelbourne said. “I have been very active in the community since my wife and I moved here three years ago. I trust the voters to make the best choice for the future of Stephenville.”

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