PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 30, 2012

Early voting information

PORT ARTHUR — Early voting for the May 12 general and special election for local city and school board races begins this week from April 30 to May 8.

Early voting polling locations in Port Arthur are: City Hall, Port Arthur Public Library and Sabine Pass School.

In Port Arthur, two city council seats are up for grabs including the District 5 seat where incumbent John Beard has termed out.

A proposition to determine whether the city’s Economic Development Corporation can spend money derived from sales tax allocations on parks projects is also on the ballot

District 5 City Council

Seeking the District 5 seat are two former Councilmen: Jack Chatman Jr. and Willie “Bae” Lewis.

Chatman, 49, was District 1 Councilman from 2007 to 2011. He lost his bid for re-election to Raymond Scott Jr.

During those years he worked with Port Arthur for Positive Action and Motiva to build the West Side Community Center; and with CIDA and Valero to build the health clinic on the West side.

Chatman said he was also instrumental in bringing the Environmental Justice Plan to fruition, an ongoing program in Port Arthur.

Presently, Chatman serves as co-chairman on the Downtown Renaissance Board.

Chatman is senior pastor of Sabbath Rest Nondenominational Ministry.

Former City Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis, Jr., believes his knowledge and experience is what Port Arthur needs to overcome some of the issues facing the city today.

Lewis, 68, served on City Council for 21 years and was the plaintiff in a lawsuit that changed the city’s  voting system from at-large to single member districts.

Repairing Port Arthur streets is one of the city’s most pressing issues nowadays, and the need to hire a new city manager,, he said.  

Lewis was defeated in a runoff election last year for the Council Position 7 seat.

He is employed as an analyzer technician at Port Arthur’s Valero plant.

District 6 City Council

For the District 6 seat, Robert E. “Bob” Williamson and Zulema Escobedo are running on the ballot.

Williamson, 61, the incumbent, is seeking his third term.

Implementing recommendations made in The Mercer Report,   hiring a new city manager, developing new jobs and establishing a clear-cut vision for the re-development of downtown Port Arthur are among a long list of issues Williamson said the city needs to address.

Getting a new city manager on board to help implement recommendations made in The Mercer Report is tantamount to the city’s success, he said.

The incumbent candidate was first elected in 2006. During his tenure on City Council, the city has worked its way through the devastation of two hurricanes.

Williamson is retired from the Port Arthur Police Department.

Zulema Escobedo, 37, believes her experience as a small business owner is what Port Arthur needs to help bring new jobs to the city.

She and her husband, Sergio, are owners of Escobedo Insurance Agency through Farmers, and Edible Arrangements in Beaumont.

Five years ago she ran unsuccessfully for city mayor, and believes now is the time to do what she can to help the city she loves.

With unemployment near 17 percent, it is imperative the city bring new jobs to town that hire Port Arthur residents.

She believes the city should invest money into its streets, parks projects and Pleasure Island. Doing so would spur the fishing industry, and in turn bring tax dollars to the city.

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