A crowded field of candidates is growing after Upshur County Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka’s announcement in October that he won’t seek a third term in office.

“That is correct. I’ve decided not to run again,” Berka said Friday.

This week, Gladewater businessman and native Kent Abernathy announced his kickoff campaign to seek the Upshur County Pct. 3 commissioner seat in 2020 as a Republican.

Abernathy joins a field that includes heavy equipment salesman Richard Smith, retired Texas Utilities supervisor Michael Ashley and Gladewater Economic Development Corp. Board President Robert Green, Berka said.

Also, Gilmer certified public accountant Daphne Grimes is raising signatures to petition for a spot on the Republican ballot for Pct. 3 commissioner, she said Friday.

Berka said he’s met every goal he set out to achieve except for one when he first originally took office seven years ago. The one goal he hasn’t met — the county’s first update of its policies and procedures since 1993 — could happen either with a new court or before he leaves office Dec. 31, 2020.

“I’m satisfied with what I’ve done,” Berka said.

Abernathy has been with McKaig Chevrolet Buick in Gladewater in several capacities, including owner and managing partner. He serves on the Kilgore College Foundation Board and once served on the Gladewater ISD board of trustees. He is also a former Gladewater Economic Development Corp. board member and a past president and board member of the Gladewater/Union Grove Baseball Association.

“I’m at a point in my life where I would like to give back to Upshur County by using my 40 years of business experience to serve the citizens of Pct. 3,” Abernathy said in a statement. “I have been attending Upshur County Commissioners Court meetings and visiting with citizens and elected official on the issues and challenges facing Pct. 3.”

Grimes said her experience helping people manage their money and budgets can help the county balance its finances.

She’s gotten 40 of the 68 signatures she needs to reach the Republican nomination ballot, she said, and expects to reach her goal by Thanksgiving.

“I can’t say I’m running for Republican yet, but that’s my plan — to run on the Republican ballot,” Grimes said.

Attempts to contact Smith and Green were not successful Friday. Meanwhile, Ashley’s wife, Reggenia Ashley, said she’s campaigning for her husband, who “will be the only one who will be a full-time commissioner.”

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.