Residents to vote on sports venue tax, president, local candidates on Tuesday

Ashley Inge
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

Early voting for the 2020 General Election will start on Tuesday, Oct. 13, allowing residents of Stephenville to choose their president – Donald Trump or Joe Biden – along with many other decisions that will affect the local community, including sports venue tax.

The city of Stephenville is asking voters for the authorization to collect an additional 2 percent tax on hotel rooms – not to exceed 9 percent on hotel stays – to fund upgrades and expansion of sports facilities owned by the city.

Those staying in hotel rooms will be charged an extra 2 percent on the occupancy of a hotel room within the city of Stephenville. The monies collected from the 2 percent tax will be used for the construction or improvement of city-owned ballfields, courts and recreation facilities.

“Except for very few exceptions, it’s paid by people from outside of Stephenville. It’s a way to pay for things in Stephenville using somebody’s else’s funds besides residents of Stephenville,” said Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien. “It will allow the city of Stephenville to collect 2 percent more money for every night someone stays in the hotel, and will allow Stephenville to use that money to reinvest in the city of Stephenville, to assist in more tourism, which will create more opportunity for sporting events. The difference is, in this case, the citizens have to approve us to do it.”

The additional tax will add $2 per night to a hotel room with a $100 nightly rate.

According to the City of Stephenville Facebook page, visitors brought an estimated $47 million in direct visitor spending in Stephenville in 2018. Overall, tourism generated approximately $1.1 million in local tax revenue. As a result of this visitor spending, an estimated 500 jobs were supported within the city.

“It is the best way to raise Stephenville revenue to create more venues, which will create more tourism without having to raise costs,” Svien said.

He added that he is willing to meet with any individual or organization to explain the sports venue tax in more detail and to answer any questions.


The local early voting locations in advance of the Nov. 3 General Election will be at the Graham Street Church of Christ Family Center and Patrick Street Church of Christ. Early voting will end on Friday, Oct. 30.

Early voting hours at the Graham Street Church of Christ Family Center will be from:

•Tuesday, Oct.13 - Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

•Thursday, Oct. 15 - Friday, Oct. 16 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

•Monday, Oct. 19 - Friday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


•Saturday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

•Monday, Oct. 26 - Friday, Oct. 30 from 8-5 p.m.

Early voting hours at the Patrick Street Church of Christ will be from:

•Tuesday, Oct. 13 - Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

•Thursday, Oct. 15 - Friday, Oct. 16 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

•Monday, Oct. 19 - Friday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

•Monday, Oct. 26 - Friday, Oct. 30 from 8 a.m. -5 p.m.

The final day to register to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election — Monday, Oct. 5 — has passed.


Due to COVID-19, residents will not vote at the Erath County Courthouse, the Dublin County Annex or the United Cooperative Building for this election. Residents of Erach County who are registered can pick from any one of the following 10 locations to vote on Nov. 3 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.:

— Graham Street Church of Christ Family Center, 375 N. Graham St., Stephenville

— Patrick Street Church of Christ Family Center, 630 N. Patrick St., Dublin

— Bluff Dale Community Center, 175 Holt, Bluff Dale

— Cornerstone Assembly of God, 950 Glen Rose Rd., Stephenville

— Huckabay Community Center, 42346 FM 219, Stephenville

— Lingleville School Building, 21261 N. FM 219, Lingleville

— Morgan Mill Community Center, 406 CR 156, Stephenville

— Selden Community Center, 4142 CR 913, Stephenville

— Texas A&M Agrilife Research & Extension Center, 1229 N. U.S. Hwy 281, Stephenville

— TexasBank, 988 Wolfe Nursery Rd., Stephenville

The final day to apply to receive a voting ballot my mail will be Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

Here is an overview of the local candidates in the contested races that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot for registered Erath County voters:


Matt Coates, incumbent and Republican, was appointed sheriff of Erath County by the Commissioner’s Court following the unexpected death of longtime sheriff Tommy Bryant in December of 2016.

With the Howard County Sheriff’s Office, Coates served as lieutenant over patrol, criminal investigations and training before becoming chief deputy. He also served as the SWAT team leader for Big Spring Police Department/Howard County Sheriff’s Office SWAT, according to

Coates and his wife Denys, a pharmacist, moved to Stephenville in 2013 and have three children.

Paul Tyus, challenger and Independent, graduated from the Tarleton State University police academy in May of 1992. As previously reported by the E-T, he worked as a full-time police officer for the Dublin Police Department in January 1995 and was then accepted to be a reserve deputy for the Erath County Sheriff’s Office.


Board member Cole Parks, Place 6, on the Stephenville ISD School Board is not seeking re-election after serving for six years.

David Tezaguic and Phyllis Stewart are both running for Place 6 on the Stephenville ISD School Board, a full three-year term.

David Tezaguic is a 38-year-old bilingual engineer at Saint-Gobain Abrasives who has one young son attending SISD.

Phyllis Stewart, along with her husband Dee, have made their home in Stephenville for over 20 years. They have three daughters and one son.

Pastor Ed Dittfurth (Place 7) has also decided not to seek re-election.

Donny Hill and Matt Miller are both running for Place 7 on the SISD School Board, a full three-year term.

Donny Hill, 43, is a personal trainer for Anytime Fitness and an adjunct professor at Tarleton State University.

Matt Miller, 38, is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. He and his wife Cindy, who works at Hook Elementary, have two daughters.