The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
An overflowing courtroom in Port Arthur’s sub-courthouse erupted in applause Wednesday morning after Christopher Bates was officially sworn in as the constable of Precinct 2.
So many friends, family members and other elected officials were present to watch the ceremony that a handful of late-comers had to stand in the hallway.
The biggest group in the crowd was Bates’ family, made up of his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, followed by his “church family.” Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael Sinegal and Linda Spears, the board director for the Port of Port Arthur, were also in attendance.
“It’s good to know I have this support behind me, because it’s going to take that support to help me go throughout these years and any other terms God sees fit,” Bates said.
Bates, who ran unopposed in the general election after winning the Democratic primary by 51.3 percent of the vote, struggled to find the right words for his acceptance speech.
“This is amazing,” he said. “I want to thank everyone. I’m just ready to get out and do the work people elected me to do and that you all have so much confidence in me doing.”
Bates said one of his main goals is to reach out to young adults and mentor them to become productive members of the community.
“From my background working with the schools and with my church, I have some innovative ideas I want to bring to the table that can help out,” he said. “Different programs that can mentor the kids through music and letting them know there’s better things to do in life than just hanging out.”
Bates, who graduated from Memorial High School’s first class in 2003 as Cum Laude, was a member of the short-lived police department at Port Arthur ISD after being laid off from the Precinct 8 office in 2010 due to county-wide budget cuts.
But even that experience, combined with his time as a deputy under Constable Eddie Collins, could not fully prepare him to run his own office, he said.
“It’s going to take a little while to get used to being in the constable’s office and being an elected official,” he said. “It’s all brand new to me. I believe through the help of my office and staff it’ll be smooth. Once we get in there and get rolling it will be like clock work.”
Justice of the Peace Marc DeRouen expressed his appreciation to Bates before officially inducting him into office.
“I want to welcome you to the family, and that’s exactly the kind of environment this is,” DeRouen said about the sub-courthouse employees. “Everyone is friendly and sincere.”
Lavinia Roy, Bates’ cousin and one of the dozens of family members at the ceremony, said all the relatives “are just so proud of him.”
“It’s such an awesome, wonderful thing for him,” she said. “He’s worked so hard, and we’re excited for him.”
Roy said her cousin’s desire to help students and children will have a very positive impact on the community.
“There are a lot of things going on in our schools, and we have to get students back to learning,” she said. “We have to get teachers wanting to teach again. It’s important to work with kids and get them learning on a higher level.”