Thomas Prado, the Bell County Precinct 3 constable, is not seeking a fourth term in next year’s election, he told the Telegram.

“I’ve been serving this community for a long time,” said Prado, who has worked in law enforcement for 25 years. “Me and my wife talked about it, it’s just time to retire. I love Bell County. The citizens of Bell County are great people.”

With Prado, 52, passing on another term, one of his deputies — Devin Rosenthal — is seeking to succeed the Republican as constable.

Rosenthal, 48, recently filed an appointment of campaign treasurer form — a document that often indicates a person is planning to run for office.

“Constable Prado advised he’s probably going to retire so I (will) put my name in for the office,” Rosenthal, the Precinct 3 constable’s chief deputy, said.

Rosenthal plans to run as a Republican for constable.

A constable is a peace officer and is the chief process server of the precinct’s justice of the peace court, according to the Texas Association of Counties. They serve subpoenas to witnesses, act as bailiffs, execute judgments and serve papers. Additionally, they can perform patrol functions and help the Sheriff’s Department when asked.

Whoever is elected Precinct 3 constable will serve a four-year term and earn an annual salary of $63,115.

Precinct 3 covers Temple, Troy, Little River-Academy and northeast Bell County. The office is based in downtown Temple.

‘A public servant’

Prado encouraged his chief deputy to run for constable in next year’s elections.

“He would be great for the job,” Prado said. “He’s an outstanding chief deputy, and I want him to run for office.”

Prado was first elected to his position in 2008. He ran unopposed in the Republican primary and the general election. He succeeded Bill Hartwell, who was elected in 1996 and served three terms as constable.

Just as Prado is encouraging Rosenthal to seek elected office, Hartwell pushed Prado, who was a deputy for the then-constable, to succeed him.

“My old boss, Bill Hartwell, we talked about it and he told me he was going to retire,” Prado said, recounting a conversation that ultimately led to him running for office. “He said, ‘Why don’t you run for office?’ I told him I’m not a politician. He goes, ‘Neither am I.’”

Prado said he ran as a public servant — which is how he continues to see himself.

“I’m more of a public servant than anything else,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I think it’s time to go; it’s time to retire. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

‘I know the job’

Rosenthal currently is the only person to indicate publicly they have an interest for Precinct 3 constable.

Rosenthal is originally from Wisconsin, and moved to Bell County in 1994 when the Army stationed him at Fort Hood. After retiring from the military in 1996, Rosenthal and his wife, Christina, decided to stay because they fell in love with Central Texas.

Rosenthal is a master peace officer and has several other certifications from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

“I know the job,” said Rosenthal, who has worked for the Precinct 3 Constable’s office for 13 years.

If elected in 2020, Rosenthal said he wants to continue to build upon Prado’s improvements. He pointed to the office’s implementation of body cameras on deputies and its restructuring of records as two examples of Prado’s success.

“I would like to continue those efforts to use technology to streamline the process,” Rosenthal said. “Hopefully, get a little quicker turnaround for our civil process to keep the courts moving smoothly, (and) continue the training for all of our officers.”

Other county races

As Rosenthal prepares his 2020 campaign in East Bell County, West Bell County also is preparing to see at least one race.

Republicans are hoping to pick up the Killeen-centric Precinct 4, Place 1, justice of the peace seat next year. Democrat Daryl Peters currently holds that position after being appointed in March. He replaced Democrat Claudia Brown, who was removed from the position in February after a jury trial.

Michael Keefe, a retired Killeen Police officer with two decades of service, is seeking the GOP nomination for the seat.

Another potential candidate is Killeen City Councilman Gregory Johnson, who filed a campaign treasurer appointment form, indicating he may seek elected office.

Although Johnson has not made his campaign official nor indicated which party’s nomination he will seek, he recently announced he would not run for a third term on the Killeen City Council.

Other Bell County offices on the 2020 ballot include county attorney; sheriff; tax assessor-collector; Precinct 1 commissioner; Precinct 3 commissioner; Precinct 3, Place 1, justice of the peace; and constable for Precincts 1, 2 and 4.