By CLINT FOSTER
Icy weather notwithstanding, filing for the 2014 primary elections officially concluded Monday at 6 p.m.
Two Democrats filed for local offices, but the bulk of candidates (17) are representatives from the Republican Party, 13 of which are incumbents.
Palo Pinto County Republican Party Chair Barbara Upham told the Index the Republican primary election was moved back to its original date in March after being held in April for the 2012 primary.
She said only three races will be contested during the upcoming primary: County Judge, County Clerk and District Clerk.
Candidates in these three races will have a ballot order draw on Monday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. in the Palo Pinto County Courthouse where Upham said they will essentially “draw names out of a hat” to determine the order the candidates are listed on the ballots.
Upham said the fact that only three of the 13 races will be contested may reflect a positive attitude toward incumbents within the county.
“I think the fact that a number of incumbents didn’t draw opponents may be an indication that everybody is pleased with the jobs they’re doing in their respective offices,” she said. “Of course, when there are contested races, that’s just more choices for the voters.”
Of the Democrats’ two candidates, only one will find himself in a contested race for a county seat after the primary elections are over, as Raymond Procter plans to run against incumbent Republican Jeff Fryer for Precinct 4 Commissioner.
It’s an interesting turn of events when considering just how deeply blue Palo Pinto County has been up until recent years – Sheriff Ira Mercer became the first ever Republican elected in Palo Pinto County in 2004.
Granted, two Democratic candidates are still more than the zero who filed for the 2012 primary election.
Democratic Party Chair Ida Nickerson told the Index a third candidate had planned on applying, but could not make the Monday deadline because of the severe weekend ice.
On the Republican side, Upham said they did not run into any issues with filing because of the winter storm. She said only one candidate – Jessica Wright who is running for County Clerk – filed on Monday.
When asked if she wished there could have been more Democrats to file for office, Nickerson said the candidate’s parties are less important than ensuring the county is under good leadership.
“We have some bigger things to be concerned about [than candidates],” she said. “I think the people in the positions are doing fine. I’m not looking at it from a party perspective... I think that when you put [a label] on it, that’s just something for people to fight about.
“If you truly believe in democracy, then you’re concerned about the best candidate winning and who’s most qualified, not just because they’re a Democrat or a Republican. I want everybody to work together and I’m concerned about what happens in this county [instead of national politics].”
Nickerson, unlike Upham, has decided not to run again for her party’s Chair seat, essentially ceding her position to Theresa Crosier. It seems the primary reason Nickerson decided to abstain is that she has become somewhat disenchanted with party politics.
“I’m not going to do the Republican/Democrat thing; that’s not me,” she said. “I don’t know one person that I consider an enemy. I thank all of the Democrats for the opportunity to be their chairperson. Really, my take on the whole thing is I’m just concerned about the county. There’s so much that we need to do.”
As of Monday’s filing deadline, the complete list of Palo Pinto County candidates are as follows (an asterisk denotes incumbent):
• David Nicklas (Rep.) *
• Ernest Pechacek (Rep.)
• Janette Green (Rep.) *
• Jessica Wright (Rep.)
• Debbie Murray (Rep.)
• Janie Glover (Rep.) *
• Stacie Frye (Rep.)
Pct. 2 Commissioner
• Louis Ragle (Rep.) *
Pct. 4 Commissioner
• Jeff Fryer (Rep.) *
• Raymond Procter (Dem.)
• Tanya Fallin (Rep.) *
Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace
• Todd Baker (Rep.) *
Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace
• Shane Long (Rep.) *
Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace
• Shawn Humphries (Rep.) *
Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace
• C.L. “Coppy” Hodgkins Jr. (Rep.) *
Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace
• Bobby J. Hart (Rep.) *
Pct. 4 Constable (unexpired term)
• Randy Hunter (Rep.) *
Republican Party Chair
• Barbara Upham *
Democrat Party Chair
• Theresa Crosier