By ADAM RUSSELL
Originally published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph
Two announced Republican candidates for House District 6, seven-term Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and challenger Matt Schaefer will officially file petitions and fees for a place on Smith County ballots today as the filing period for several local races begins.
Schaefer and Berman both said they are eager to file. Berman said he will write a check to cover the $750 filing fee, while Schaefer will turn in the required 500 registered District 6 voter signatures for a place on the ballot.
Incumbents and challengers seeking local and state offices can file for a place on Smith County primary ballots with their respective parties today through 6 p.m. Dec. 15.
Candidates seeking election for local races — including Smith County sheriff, tax assessor/collector, commissioner Precincts 1 and 3, constable Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7th and 114th District Court judge — may file with their respective party. State legislative districts, including House District 6, which includes Tyler and much of southern Smith County; House District 5, which includes Lindale, northern Smith County and Wood and Rains counties; House District 7, which includes Gregg and Upshur counties; House District 11, which includes Cherokee, Rusk and Nacogdoches counties and Senate District 1, which includes Smith, Gregg, Upshur and Wood counties and much of the northeastern portion of the state.
Local party precinct chairmen will also be up for re-election.
The filing schedule changed this year because federal courts threw out redistricting maps drawn by legislators in Austin. Local maps for commissioners and constables were pre-cleared and will not be affected by the ruling.
Interim state legislative maps were released late last week and U.S. Congressional interim maps were released Wednesday.
Smith County Democratic Party Executive Secretary Karen Wilkerson said the federal challenge to state maps have added confusion to a primary year with other changes.
The big change is filing amounts for candidates. Because Smith County exceeded 200,000 according to the 2010 U.S. Census, candidates for races such as sheriff and constable will pay more than previous years.
Sheriff candidates would pay $1,250 versus $750 previously and constables would pay $1,000 versus $375.
“The increase surprised some candidates,” Ms. Wilkerson said.
Candidates can avoid writing a check by gathering signatures of registered voters within their jurisdiction.
Signatures of 500 registered voters are necessary in lieu of payment for local races.
A full list of candidate filing fees and petition signature requirements can be found at www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/guide/demorrep.shtml.
GOP Primary Administrator Sharon Emmert said candidates should bring completed forms for campaign treasurer, which must be filed with the County Clerk, and complete petitions or checks for filing fees.
She said the requirement for assignment of campaign treasurer before filing as a candidate is new this primary. Forms are available at party headquarters for candidates unfamiliar with filing requirements, she said.
Mrs. Emmert said local races, including the race for sheriff, are garnering attention because the positions have not been “up for grabs in a long time.”
“Candidates are going to be eager to file on the first day,” she said.
Candidates running in the March Republican primary can file with the Smith County Republican Party at reception at GOP headquarters, 3923 S. Broadway Ave. in Tyler, from 2 to 5:30 p.m. today.
The GOP office will be open during the same hours throughout the week. The office will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays Dec. 5 through Dec. 14, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the final day to file for candidacy, Dec. 15.
The Smith County Republican Party can be reached at 903-593-0100.
The Smith County Democratic Party will accept candidate applications for positions on the March 2012 ballot from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays starting today through Dec. 15. Filing for the March primary closes at 6 p.m. Dec. 15.
Evening or weekend appointments can be arranged, Ms. Wilkerson said. Forms for candidate application and petition in lieu of filing fee are available. The office is at 401 Front St., Suite 143 in Tyler. For more information call party headquarters at 903-593-7061 or email party@ smithdems.org.
So far, no Democrats have filed in most local races. If no Democrat files and GOP candidates emerge with 50 percent of the vote during the March 6 Primary the candidate would win the position.
Mrs. Emmert said there is more attention on national, state and local politics, and more residents becoming involved as candidates and political activists.
“It’s a good thing,” she said. “We always like to have an active primary.”