City, school races under way
and JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY – Dozens of city council and school board candidates across the county are making their pitches before the May 10 election.
Early voting begins Monday, April 28 and runs to May 6.
Residents won’t get a vote in the mayoral race until May 2009, but that hasn’t stopped citizens from circulating a petition seeking the removal of Mayor P.W. "Jinker" Gentry, who is the target of multiple investigations along with other city officials and former police Chief Michael Chase Meissner.
Gentry won by 60 votes in the town of almost 400 several years ago.
Jim Bob Wilson’s death several weeks ago canceled the race against incumbent Tom Abram in the Ward 3 spot, but a controversial race is brewing in the race for Byron Walker’s Ward 1 seat. Walker, who recently turned himself into Ennis authorities for a Clay County, warrant for alleged identity theft, did not return repeated requests for comment on this story. Walker, a long-time city commissioner, faces James "Red" Sanders for his re-election bid. Sanders, meanwhile, said he wants to bring experience and insight to the commission, as well as help build new jails and fire stations.
School board elections were canceled due to incumbents running unopposed, but that hasn’t stopped the Ennis ISD’s public relations team. In response to this newspaper and taxpayer groups, Ennis school officials have been attending public meetings in efforts to answer "misinformation" being spread about the $48,985,000 million bond package before voters.
However, The Ellis County Press’ analysis of the bond ballot language contains no mention of what Ennis ISD is asking from voters.
School officials said the bond will pay for a new intermediate school, a new daycare center for students with children, upgrades to existing campuses and technology upgrades. The ballot, though, is vague:
"The issuance of $48,985,000 of bonds and levying the tax in payment thereof, including the costs of any credit agreements executed in connection with the bonds."
Two weeks after ECP exposed Councilman Mike Greenlee’s past spending on bars, hotels, strip clubs and other items, the two candidates who have their names on his signs are mum. However, Shannon Conger and Linda Harper did provide answers – along with other candidates – for what their campaigns stand for.
"One of the largest issues seems to be the dissention within the city," said Harper, whose name appears at the bottom of the large 4x8 yard signs in town.
"I have been approached by many Palmer citizens since I announced my candidacy and they communicated to me that they would like to see the dissention in Palmer subside."
Harper stressed her corporate experience and noted that her qualifications would allow her to vote based on facts and not hearsay.
Like Harper, 2007 mayoral candidate Greg Penny said he wants to move the city forward by representing every citizen, as well as allow the city to grow "proactively" while addressing the city’s infrastructure.
Tony Roybal, making his first run for public office after 21 years as a resident, is stressing the need for more flood control and recreational opportunities for citizens.
Conger, whose name appears below Greenlee’s and above Harper’s on those red, white and blue signs, said her involvement with local sports associations would open up more opportunities for young people. She, too, wants to see the flooding issue addressed.
Incumbents Greenlee and Jeff Vick did not return requests for comment.
A follow-up call to Greenlee resulted in a "disconnected" phone line message.