By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine City Councilman Therrell Thomas announced this week that he would be running for mayor after hearing that current Palestine Mayor Bob Herrington would not be seeking a third term.
“I had no interest in running against him, because I believed in him as mayor. I told him that if he was convinced that he wasn't running then I was going to run for the mayor’s position,” Thomas told the Herald-Press.
Thomas, 51, was appointed in August 2011 to fulfill the unexpired term of the council’s District 5 seat formerly held by Andrea Baird. His seat is due to expire in 2014.
Thomas, who has lived in Palestine off-and-on since 1983, owns Thomas Glass & Mirror.
“My experience as councilman has made me come to respect and honor the position even more. It has caused me to have a greater love for our city and the people of Palestine. I have an appreciation for all the members of the council and the mayor,” Thomas said.
“So my time on council has not only strengthened my desire to see good for our city, but has given me a hope that I could add value to our city as Palestine’s next mayor.”
Maximizing the city’s potential is his No. 1 goal.
“I want to make sure 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 what we can even think or imagine,” Thomas said. “On a more practical note, (I) want to make sure we have good people in the right places to help facilitate all the greatness that is before us.”
As a city councilman, he has seen some of the problems facing the city, many dealing with its infastructure.
“Our city is an old and aging city as far as most of its infrastructure goes. The citizens must decide how, when and where we are going to face those issues,” Thomas said. “They cost large amounts of money. Yes, there are some cheaper cosmetic things we can do, but at the end of the day, to continue to have a quality of life that we probably want and expect, to have the new life that jobs and industry bring to our city, we are going to have to face some infrastructure issues.”
Thomas also has learned as a councilman that the democratic governmental process works.
“I have admired as citizens come before the council expressing very different views on the same issue. And I saw it as a hard thing to have to make a decision between the two varying views, neither view being evil, just different. I respected each one’s views. 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,” Thomas said. “It has really taught me to appreciate and respect people with varying views and opinions. It is healthy to have pure hearted debate.”
His experience as a business owner has taught him several things as well.
“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 (having) their trust in you and your business,” Thomas said. “I also understand the importance of fiscal responsibility to keep the doors open.”
Thomas has lived in Palestine since 1983 with the exceptions of living in New York City from 1998 to 2002 and in Austin from 2003 to 2007. While in Austin, he was director of a ministry center called His Place on the popular Sixth Street area.
Over the years in Palestine, Thomas has worked in the oil field as production well tester and coil tubing units for Otis Engineering; worked for Lone Star Gas Company’s distribution division; and served as a Palestine police officer.
His wife of 20 years, Barbara, works at Palestine Middle School. His four grown stepchildren include Hank Todaro of Phoenix, Ariz., Travis Todaro of Atlanta, Ga., Lisa Tunstall of Cayuga and Lori Lucas of New Jersey.
“I really enjoy being a councilman for District 5 and I am excited and humbled for the opportunity to run for the mayor of Palestine,” Thomas said. “I believe with all my heart that there is a very bright, not too distant future for Palestine.”