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Local News

October 2, 2013

Monday last day to register to vote

PORT ARTHUR — The last day to register to vote in the November 5 election is quickly approaching, and there is no better time than now to take a look at what will be on the ballot, and plan to go to the polls.

Those wishing to register must do so by Monday, Oct. 7.

Voter registration applications are available at area public libraries, government offices or from the votetexas.gov website. Applications must be received 30 days before an election in order to be eligible to vote in that election.

Although the off-year election will have no presidential or gubernatorial races, voters will decided a slew of constitutional amendments and those in Groves and Port Neches will have a chance to elect councilmembers.

Voters will also see nine constitutional amendments on the ballot including one authored by State Representative. Allen Ritter and State Senator Tommy Williams.

Proposition No. 6 provides for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas. The fund would assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.

The proposition ties to HB 4, which Ritter authored in the House and Troy Fraser, District 24, sponsored in the senate.

The constitutional amendment is all about procuring water, and will help people all across the state, Ritter said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The state’s water plan — based on the drought of record in the 1950s —indicates the Jefferson County region will need to procure 180,000 to 200,000 acre feet of water in the next 50 years.

State growth projections indicate Texas as a whole will be 8.3 million acre feet shy of what it needs.

“To feed our economic engine we will have to develop in Texas almost 9 million acre feet of water,” Ritter said.

To do so won’t be cheap.

Ritter has proposed that the state set aside money from its rainy day fund to help pay for water projects proposed by the state’s 16 water regional planning groups.

“To me it the fiscally smart thing to do with $2 million sitting in the rainy day fund,” Ritter said. “All these entities will have to develop water structure. We can’t not be prepared economically or socially for the future without water. Our society cannot function without it.”

In addition to Proposition No. 6, there are eight others to be decided by voters.

But, before voters can go to the polls, they have to register — something that Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince said was not only one’s right, but one’s duty as an American.

“It is part of that right that people have fought for and died for. If for no other reason, people should get out there and vote out of respect for all that U.S. citizens did in the past to ensure those rights,” Prince said.

During the last Port Arthur mayoral election in May, only about 10 percent of the city’s registered voters went to the polls.

Prince, and her challenger, Harold Doucet, said they found those low numbers disconcerting.

Doucet, a former District 4 City Councilman, said there were plenty of registered voters in Port Arthur, but not enough going to the polls.

“It is important to get people to vote, whether it is on a county, state, or municipal level,” Doucet said.

Prince said she was surprised at the low voter turnout last May, and has heard many say they believe their vote does not count.

But, it does.

Prince said she vividly remembers a few years ago when Bobbie Patterson ran for Beaumont City Council, and won by one vote.

“Because of that one vote, somebody made a difference. It made a difference in whether she was on City Council or not. Your vote counts,” Prince said.

In Groves, voters will have the opportunity to elect two positions: The Ward 1 and Ward 3 seats. The Ward 1 incumbent, Dr. Joseph Arisco, will not seek re-election. James Rasa, who is retired, has filed for the spot.

Ward 3 incumbent Sidney Badon, who lists his occupation as a bricklayer, will face Rob Vensel, owner/manager of R&B Storit.

Both are two year terms.

In Port Neches, seats held by Place 1 Councilmember Terry Schwertner and Place 3 Councilmember Roy Hollier are up for grabs.

Schwertner will not run for re-election but two business persons have thrown their hats into the ring for the Place 1 seat; Kimberly Hall, a business owner, and Christopher McMahon, chief operations officer at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

Place 3 incumbent Roy Hollier, a retired electrician, will face Adam Anders, a sales representative.

There will be no election for Port Neches-Groves ISD as only the incumbents filed for the spots.

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