Palestine business owners in contest for mayor’s seat - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Palestine business owners in contest for mayor's seat

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Councilman Therrell Thomas and challenger Timothy Triplett Councilman Therrell Thomas and challenger Timothy Triplett
PALESTINE (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Mayor Bob Herrington's decision not to seek reelection led to a two-way race in the May 11 elections for the mayor's seat between Councilman Therrell Thomas and challenger Timothy Triplett.

Thomas, 51, owns Thomas Glass & Mirror, a business he started in 2008.

Triplett, 61, owns Coherent Technology, an engineering company he started in 1989.

Thomas is the District 5 council member, while Triplett is making his first run for public office.

Triplett grew up in Palestine, obtained an electrical engineering degree from Texas A&M University and worked throughout the world in engineering before moving back to Palestine about 12 years ago.

Thomas was born in Mississippi, went to school in Austin, earned an associate's degree from Austin Community College and directed a ministry called "His Place in Austin." He is a former Palestine police officer, who has worked in the oil fields as a production well tester and has had other jobs in different places.

Triplett

Triplett said he decided to run for mayor after realizing that he is well qualified to serve because of his business experience and civic involvement.

As an engineer for Texaco, Triplett said, he worked throughout the world, managing large projects worth several hundred million dollars that took multiple years to complete.

"It takes a special skill to manage a long-term project and see it through to successful completion. Not a lot of people have that background," Triplett said. He contends that his background prepared him to deal with large problems the city has that will take multiple years to address.

Triplett has served on the Palestine Economic Development Corporation board for several years and as president of Historic Palestine Inc., a nonprofit organization that preserves historic structures. He is restoring a historic building on the corner of Sycamore, Spring and Avenue A and helped with the restoration of the Texas Theater building.

Triplett helped found and was the first president of the Palestine High School Alumni Association, which has awarded $28,000 in scholarships. He also is active in the Rotary Club.

Triplett observed that the city's infrastructure — its water and sewer systems — have been neglected for a long time, and there is major work that needs to be done that he would engage in as mayor.

While Palestine, such as many other cities, struggles with a limited budget during hard economic times, Triplett said, his approach to the situation would be to focus on bringing in more business, rather than making cuts.

Triplett said he recruited a new manufacturing plant last year that will employ 40 to 45 people and use the Texas State Railroad to bring in raw materials. That helps the railroad be profitable not only as a tourist railroad but also as a freight railroad, Triplett said.

Triplett said he also is working to recruit a technology company from the Austin area to Palestine, and he has an interest in bringing in more art and culture to Palestine.

"Growing up in Palestine was a wonderful experience, but at the time I really did not appreciate Palestine. Once I left Palestine and traveled the world, it gave me a different perspective and upon returning to Palestine, I recognized not only how beautiful the area is but also what great potential it has for the future," Triplett said. "Palestine is a wonderful place to live and to live and work and raise a family."


Thomas
Thomas said his experience as a councilman has made him respect and honor the mayor's position more, and to have a greater love for the city and the people of Palestine.

"My time on council has not only strengthened my desire to seek good for our city, but it has given me a hope that I could add value to our city as Palestine's next mayor," Thomas said.

If elected mayor, Thomas said, he would work "to make sure that we are maximizing all the potential greatness that lies not only within each citizen of Palestine, but to also strengthen and build upon the greatness of our past and to believe and dream that there are even greater things beyond."

Palestine has an old and aging infrastructure, and citizens must decide how, when and where it will face that issue in order to bring jobs and industry to the city, which will cost a lot, Thomas said.

Serving on the council has taught him to appreciate and respect people with varying views and that debate is healthy, Thomas said.

"But at the end of the day, you have to make what seems to be the proper choice for the city as a whole at the time," he said.

Thomas said the city set aside a small portion of its budget as a charitable giving fund to help in times of disaster or distress.

"This was a highly contested subject. I believe it set a precedent and spoke volumes of us as a city," Thomas said.

Thomas said he would work with residents, the council and city management "to find the correct path for us all." He added that he believes the city should take a balanced approach and should more aggressively market itself.

"My experience as a business owner can help me as mayor in that I appreciate the struggles that an entrepreneur and business owner face. I know the importance of good customer service, treating people like you appreciate them and their trust in you and your business," Thomas said.

"I believe with all my heart that there is a very bright, not too distant future for Palestine," Thomas said. "We (government officials) should always have the attitude that we are here to help facilitate growth and opportunities for all. We as government are not meant to be an impediment but an asset."

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