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For now, two battling for county commission seat

6/12/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

One county commission candidate never has held elected office.

The other one has gone from being on a city council to being a mayor, and now is looking to take the next step.

Martha "Marcy" McClelland, Hays, said she can represent both rural concerns and city of Ellis interests on the commission, while Lyle Johnston, Ellis, said he wanted to see all of the cities in the county make progress together. Both are Republicans.

"I want to represent the rural segment of the people and also Ellis," said McClelland, 70, who grew up in rural Ellis County and graduated from Ellis High School in 1961. "I think I have a handle on the rural area and know how to support it."

Johnston, 40, served on the Ellis City Council before being elected the city's mayor in April 2013, defeating 16-year incumbent David McDaniel by 10 votes.

"I enjoy what I do as mayor," said Johnston, who grew up in Ellis before his family moved to South Carolina.

He graduated from high school there in 1992.

"I'm passionate about Ellis and Ellis County. I think we all could move forward, and I'd like to see our communities move forward together," he said.

It is McClelland's first run at elected office. Although she picked up the paperwork weeks earlier, she waited until the last day to file. She will run against Johnston in the Aug. 5 primary.

"I think people need to have a choice," she said. "I wanted to give them a choice.

"I decided maybe I could represent the rural area more than he could."

Johnston, married with two children, still works the family farm outside Ellis and also works part-time for Trego County Rural Water District No. 2. He would resign from his position as mayor if he is elected county commissioner in November.

"Generally positive," Johnston said of the reaction of him filing for county commission. "The only negative ones, they didn't want to see me leave as mayor."

Water is an issue for the city of Ellis, and Johnson listed creating a water advisory board as one of his accomplishments as mayor. He said the building projects the county has are some of the main issues facing the commission.

"We just need to see it through with responsible use of that half-cent sales tax," he said.

Budgetary priorities are a focus for McClelland.

"I think we need somebody in there that is trying to prudently use our taxpayers' money, get it distributed well," she said. "I know there's not much available at times. It looks like there's a big deficit, according to the budget. I am sure there are several places that can be cut. .... I'm sure we can balance it.

"There will be differences of opinion. And, of course, every department head thinks their department is the most important. Most everybody can give a little."

McClelland serves on the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission. She and her husband have property where the wind farm development is located in the county. McClelland said, if elected, she would resign from the planning commission and recuse herself from issues relating to the wind farm.

Republican Swede Holmgren, Ellis, is completing his first four-year term representing District 1. He did not file for re-election, but said he could run as an independent. The deadline for an independent to run in the November general election is the day before the primary.

"I was rather surprised," McClelland said of Holmgren's decision. "If that's what he wants to do, I'm all for him."

"If he was going to run, I think he should have run as a Republican," Johnston said. "Stick to your guns."