Dear Editor,

The filing period for the May election for city council and school board has not yet ended; however, we are concerned with some information that has been shared with us. 

On the evening of Jan. 14, city council members Zachery, Trussell and Harrison hosted and participated in an organized meeting at LaQuinta with the intent to influence the upcoming city and school elections by urging candidates to file if they were proven to be “conservative” enough. 

The private meeting proves they are fear-driven that our city and school board in Erath County will “turn purple or blue.” The application to serve and the voting ballots for city council and school board have no party affiliation requirements.  The voters will collectively decide if the candidates should be elected. 

This effort to influence the election also included the idea to form a Political Action Committee to solicit donations from community members, businessmen and state officials, former state election candidates and sources in Austin.  Reaching outside Erath County to solicit campaign funds says these council members do not believe our voters have the ability to govern themselves without outside influence.  

Having recently attended a Texas Open Meetings Act training, this type of activity, while neither illegal nor unethical, is highly discouraged as it gives the appearance of favoritism over a candidate with whom council members want to serve.  

Some of the council members attempted to influence the outcome of the 2018 city election by making sizable donations to their choice of candidates.  The donation information is public record in the candidates’ Campaign Finance Reports. While it is neither illegal nor unethical for city council members to attempt to influence the outcome, what appearance does it give the voters when a council member tries to choose the person that will sit next to them or oust an incumbent with whom they disagree?  

It is up to the voters to encourage, promote, donate and vote for their choice of candidates. Perhaps those council members do not trust the voters to collectively make the right decision.

As a city, we are fortunate to have four independently minded candidates lining up in their bid for city council on the first day of filing. We admire anyone willing to step out and make the early commitment to serve our city and we respect and admire those on the council who are not participating in any activities that would cause a divide in our great city.  

We believe most people in our community would prefer to see a neutral ground among the city council, working together in a nonpartisan, unbiased, inclusive manner on behalf of all citizens to help Stephenville thrive and prosper.  

Political opponents should not be viewed as the enemy and every candidate desires to serve our community in the way they see as best.  After all, we are a community of neighbors, co-workers and church members who come together to help one another in a time of need.  

As a community, we donate, we volunteer, we serve, we love one another and we all want to see our city thrive and prosper.  

Mark & Keri Wallace,