Don’t think your vote is important?
In our latest local election this past Saturday, voter turnout continues to disappoint. Only 4 percent of our population let their voice be heard casting their vote one way or another. As we knew it would be, the Port Arthur City Council race for district 5 seat between Willie “Bae” Lewis and Keith Richard was close. At the end of the day, only five votes separated the two, with Mr. Lewis coming out on top.
Total votes cast for the District 5 seat ended up at 1,475 with 740 going to Mr. Lewis (50.17%) and 735 going to Mr. Richard (49.83%). At the end of early voting, which saw only 1,058 votes cast over that period, Mr. Lewis was up by 50 votes with 554 to Mr. Richard with 504. On Election Day alone, only 417 votes were cast with 55.4% going to Mr. Richard and 44.6% going to Mr. Lewis.
Since the election I have had a chance to visit with a number of residents who live in District 5 — which covers both District 1 & 4 — many of whom did not vote for one reason or another and are now kicking themselves for not doing so after hearing the outcome. Every vote counts during every election, especially moving forward from here.
This election has far-reaching implications that could easily affect the mayoral race next year. If Mr. Richard had won District 5, rumor has it that Mr. Lewis would have then run for mayor next year. That would have put him against former City Councilman Harold Doucet, who is also “more than rumored” to run as well. Both men would be vying for the same votes from the same supporters of C.A.V.E. Ultimately this would have allowed our community to dodge an implosion that would negatively affect each of us for years to come if either were to actually win the Mayor’s seat next year.
How you ask? If voter turnout were to stay the same next year as it has in the past. By simply splitting the 50% of votes that Mr. Lewis received in this past election with Mr. Doucet would allow a 49.83% total for a third mayoral candidate to become mayor. Someone who is a much better leader, who can actually work with others, listen to others, negotiate with others and allow others to have their own opinions. And imagine this, actually move our community forward.
Yes this is all hypothetical! But if we all voted it wouldn’t have to be. The reality of the situation is that now Mr. Doucet, once he creates his platform to run on, will announce his intent to run for mayor of Port Arthur. His opponent will most likely be a current city councilman that by all accounts is a political machine. He CAN get voters to the polls and ultimately win in a one on one race. However a third candidate who is looking at throwing their hat into the ring could change that reality by splitting votes with the current city councilman instead of Mr. Doucet. Thus, allowing for a much closer race than it really should be and a real possibility to meet that implosion.
Over the next few months we will see how the chess game unfolds. Let the games begin!
Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.