Community members had a chance to get to know several of the Republican candidates for the upcoming March primary at the ‘Coffee with the Candidates’ event last Saturday at the Master’s Blend in Carthage.

Community members were able to purchase coffee and other drinks at the Master’s Blend, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the Republican Party, and then walk over to next door, where the candidates were gathered.

“They get to actually meet the candidates, talk to them,” Nicole Tarpley, Panola County Republican Party Chairman, said of the event. “It’s more personal. It allows them to put a face to the name on the ballot, and I really want people to be involved. It’s a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And if you know who you’re voting for, you’re more likely to come out and vote.”

Candidates who attended the event were Chris Paddie and Mark Williams, who are running for Texas State House of Representatives District 9, as well as Nicole Tarpley, who is running for chair of the Panola County Republican Party; Tammy Blair, who’s running for the State Republican Executive Committee; and Lee Lester, a campaign surrogate for State Chair James Dickey. The executive committee position and the state party chair position will be voted on at the state convention rather than the Republican primary election.

Also present were precinct chairs Kimberly Bacon, Karen Marsalis and Judy Galetar.

Others local candidates who were not present at the meet and greet are:

  • Incumbent Bryan Hughes is running for State Senate District 1 in the Republican primary, while challenger Audrey Spanko is running for that position in the Democrat primary. Neither have drawn a challenger, so they will face off in the November general election.
  • Incumbent Leann Rafferty is running for 123rd District Judge in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Incumbent Kevin Lake is running for Panola County Sheriff in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Incumbent Bryan Murff is running for Panola County Constable for Precincts 1 and 4 in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Newly-appointed Constable Charlie Blue is running for that same Panola County Constable for Precincts 2 and 3 seat in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • William Alexander is running for Panola County Commissioner Precinct 1 in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Incumbent Craig Lawless is running for Panola County Commissioner for Precinct 3 in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Incumbent Holly Gibbs is running for Panola County Tax Assessor/Collector in the Republican primary. No one else filed to run.
  • Incumbent Nicole Tarpley and challenger Linda Lawless are running for Panola County Republican Party Chairman.
  • Incumbent John Foster is running for Panola County Democrat Party Chairman. No one else filed to run.

The last day to register to vote for the March Primary is Feb. 3.