PORT ARTHUR — Port Arthur native Valecia Tizeno was officially named city attorney Tuesday.
Tizeno, 41, has been acting city attorney since then city attorney Mark Solokow left the city for a post in Georgetown last October. She has served in the position of assistant city attorney since 2003.
“I am very committed to making Port Arthur a great place. It means a lot to come back and give my all to the people who helped instill my values,” Tizeno said.
City Councilman John Beard cast the only dissenting vote. Beard said he had no quarrel with Tizeno’s qualifications, or with her personally, but thought the city should conduct a nationwide search.
“This has been the city’s longtime process,” he said.
Beard also voiced concerns that Tizeno and Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince were related closely enough to violate nepotism laws — something Prince strongly denied.
Prince said once the allegations were brought, she asked the city’s human resources department to check.
Nepotism is defined as favoritism shown by somebody in power to relatives or friends, especially in appointing them to good positions.
Prince said her mother and Tizenos’ father are first cousins. Through their common ancestors, Prince and Tizeno are have a sixth degree relationship.
According to the city’s code of ordinances, the kinship is distant enough to not be considered nepotism, City Manager Steve Fitzgibbons said in a memorandum.
Tizeno will make $102,938 annually in her new position. She is allowed a $250 for car allowance and $100 for cell phone allowance each month.
Tizeno is a 1987 graduate of Lincoln High School in Port Arthur and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from University of Houston, a masters in public administration from Howard University in Washington D.C. before earning her law degree from Texas Southern University in Houston.
She is the daughter of Vivian Tizeno, a Port Arthur and Beaumont English teacher for 30 years. Her father, Rodney Tizeno was employed at Gulf and Chevron for 30 years.
“I think being born and raised here has given me a good understanding of the community and I am very excited to be selected for this job,” she said.