PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

May 9, 2013

PAISD school board candidates prepare for Election Night

Candidates confident despite low voter turnout

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — With a paltry 4 percent of Port Arthur’s registered voters turning out for early voting in the local city and school elections, the candidates vying for one of two positions available on the PAISD board of trustees know that on Saturday, May 11 — Election Night — it’s anyone’s game.

“I think it makes the race even more unpredictable,” said candidate Robert Reid. “Normally the thought is, if you’re ahead at the end of early voting, you’re probably going to win. But it’s difficult for anybody right now to project where they stand with voters.”

Incumbent Theo Victor surmised that the low turnout is due to voter apathy.

“Basically, a lot of people feel as though their vote’s not going to make any change and they don’t really have a voice, so why vote?” he said. “But if you don’t vote, then you can’t complain down the line about things not going your way, and you can’t bash the people in charge.”

Candidate Anthony McDaniel said apathy is the first issue he plans to tackle if he is elected on Saturday.

“Once I am elected — because I do believe that I will be — I’m going to do everything that I can to minimize the public apathy,” McDaniel said. “Voter turnout will always be low as long as you have people that don’t have confidence in the system because you have a small group of people that try to monopolize the decisions that are being made in this town. It’s sad, but nevertheless, I believe that the people will speak for themselves and who they believe in.”

With PAISD Superintendent Johnny E. Brown packing his bags on June 30, the two candidates elected to the board will waste no time in joining the decision-making process.

“The most important issue is who’s going to have a voice on the board to choose the next superintendent,” Reid said. “The direction of the district begins with the new superintendent. They will bring a new culture and a new climate to the district.”

McDaniel said it is imperative that the new superintendent not shy away from difficult decisions.

“Some tough decisions are going to have to be made, but those tough decisions should not have to be at the cost of our students and our teachers,” he said. “The main issue is to get a non-biased person to reallocate funding to promote greater morale for teachers who have been without a raise for five years.”

Both McDaniel and Reid were endorsed by the Port Arthur Teachers’ Association. As for Victor, he is running a low-key campaign. He is less concerned with winning, he said, than persuading people to cast their vote and make their voice heard.

“I’m just leaving it to the voters so they can make a decision on what’s best for the district,” Victor said. “That’s always been my goal — to give them a choice. As long as they get out and vote, I’ve done my job.”

Candidates Regina Drake, Julia Samuels and Tracy Thomas could not be reached for comment.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA