Former Mayor Eltife Prepares Run for Ratliff's Seat

Insiders agree it will be a crowded field, with candidates expected to announce within the next few weeks.

Former Tyler Mayor Kevin Eltife told Channel 7 News speculation is correct -- that he is planning to start his campaign for the State Senate next week.  Meanwhile, he reflects on the career of Bill Ratliff.

"I want the reflection to be on him and the service he provided for this District and he's an incredible individual of integrity and character. We should all say 'thank you' to him for the service he's given this district," Eltife said.

Eltife says Bill Ratliff represents the spirit of true bipartisanship.

"I'm proud to call him my friend. He's the one that has given me the desire to run for higher office at some point. And we're going to miss him."

And since leaving the Mayor's office last year, Eltife's thought seriously about his own political future, with Ratliff's career as a model.

"I think there's no secret that I'm interested in running for this seat. Today is Bill Ratliff's day, and I will have an announcement in the next couple of days," Eltife added.

The campaign toward a special election won't be easy. It is expected to be a crowded ballot. And Eltife won't speak about issues until his formal announcement. He continues to serve on boards and committees.  His name is known outside of Tyler and other parts of East Texas. And, he says an ideal political life is not about parties, but people.

"I think if you're running for public office -- any public office -- you have a desire to help. If you don't want to help people you have no reason to run. And I enjoy helping people."

No one has officially announced a candidacy as yet. The senate's District 1 contains most of Northeast Texas, from Tyler and Longview northward.

Reported by Morgan Palmer