Bob Harrell opens campaign headquarters in Gatesville
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Harrell, who first announced his candidacy for county judge in September, celebrated the grand opening of his campaign headquarters with friends and family Saturday afternoon in Gatesville.
Saturday’s event gave the community a chance to meet Harrell and his wife of 30 years, Mary Beth, and pick up yard signs as well as sign up for volunteer efforts.
David Patterson, owner of Chloe’s Trading Post at 206 S. 7th St, grilled hot dogs and sausages and brought over small waffles with a smiley face made out of frosting, for guests to enjoy in addition to chips, candy and beverages.
The office, located at 111 S. 7th St. in Gatesville, sits across the street from the east side of the Coryell County Courthouse and formerly contained a law firm. When Sandy Wright, one of the campaign volunteers, and her daughter, Korri Huntley, cleared out the office space a few days prior, they found dozens and dozens of records dating back to 1877 from the Harrison and Williams Abstract and Land Title Office that they plan on displaying somewhere in the office, showing off part of the heritage of the county, Wright said.
Wright, who has known Harrell for just over two years, said that working next to him as a volunteer and seeing what he does for the county convinced her and her daughter to help him with his campaign.
Next week, Wright said they will be hanging up family photos of Harrell’s family to provide a personal touch to the office space.
“If someone comes in off the street and says ‘Tell me about your candidate’, I want to be able to say ‘This is him,’” Wright said.
Although this is Harrell’s first time running for office, he has many years of experience in public service. Prior to becoming the Emergency Management Coordinator, Harrell was in the military for 23 years before retiring with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3. He also worked at the Texas Department of Public Safety as Watch Supervisor. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Administration and a Master’s of Public Administration. He is a licensed peace officer and is a reserve Deputy Constable.
With the opening of his campaign office, he became the first candidate running for public office in Coryell County to have an office near the courthouse and also in the county in general, Harrell said.
After current County Judge John Firth announced he was not seeking reelection, Harrell said he decided to run because he wanted to get more involved with the community.
“I believe in good, sound government. I believe in good roads, low taxes, and also, I like to give back to the community. I’ve been in public service my entire life and this is what I do and that’s what I enjoy,” Harrell said. “So, when Judge Firth decided he was going to retire, I said, ‘You know, that’s the perfect job for me.’”
Harrell explained that his campaign will not become a negative campaign.
“I’m not running against anyone, I’m running for office,” Harrell said.
Mary Beth Harrell, who is a criminal defense attorney based in Killeen, said that this attitude is typical of who her husband is, but also characterizes his campaign very well.
“It isn’t about personality, it isn’t about a ruthless drive. It’s about serving the citizens of Coryell County,” Mary Beth said.
She added that she was glad she wasn’t the candidate but said that she is his number one supporter. Her husband called her his “Supporter-in-Chief.” Bob’s decision to run for office was unexpected, though. While he has been a life-long Republican, he had never expressed an interest in running for public office before, Mary Beth said.
“He felt that he had the experience, the training and the education that he could bring to the job to really make a difference,” she said.
Bob and Mary Beth live in Gatesville and has two sons who have retired from the military and a daughter who is a public high school teacher, and nine grandchildren.
The Republican primary is March 6, 2018, which means the next several months will be busy for Harrell and his family and the campaign volunteers, but Mary Beth praised the work of the volunteers who helped with the Grand Opening and who will continue to help as the campaign goes on.
With the support and positivity about the campaign, she believes the energy will help carry Bob through the primary and into the likely runoff, she said.
Both Bob and Mary Beth were happy with the turnout of friends and residents of Coryell County and several people took yard signs with them and pledged their support for Harrell.
Harrell will also be starting a series of breakfasts called “Breakfast with Bob” where Harrell will meet with residents. The date is still to be determined but the first one will be located at Chloe’s Trading Post and they will take place in Copperas Cove and Evant as well. This would continue after the election if Harrell were to win, according to Mary Beth.
As of Sunday, three candidates in all have filed to run for county judge, with Alan Mathis and John Derrick having filed to run in addition to Harrell.