Education (and mothers) stressed at meet & greet

Published 10:40 am Thursday, April 19, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


Education, accomplishments and mothers were popular topics for a political forum on the West Side.

NAACP and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. hosted Candidates Meet & Greet Tuesday at West Side Development Center in Port Arthur. It was an opportunity for Port Arthur Independent School Board candidates and Jefferson County judicial candidates to explain why each of them were the best pick for the job.

“The other two men before me mentioned their mothers, so I want to mention mine,” Johnny Brown, PAISD candidate, said.

Brown used his 97-year-old mother as the narrative backbone for his presentation, utilizing a question-and-answer format highlighting his qualifications as school board trustee.

“She asked me if I would say anything (tonight) about civil and human rights…” Brown said. “Civil and human rights happen to be one of the key issues in education nowadays. If children are not educated, they can’t succeed like they’re capable of succeeding.”

As a holder of multiple degrees and a doctorate, education seemed a primary concern for Brown who expressed academic hopes for PAISD.

He name checked the district’s recent athletic accomplishments, but stressed the importance of the school having national merit scholars and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme among its ranks.

Candidate Lloyd Marie Johnson emphasized community and a board member’s responsibility to it and the school district.

“A board member has two main responsibilities,” she said. “Budget and interpreting policy. Budget is money, y’all… It’s how we best put funds to use.”

Johnson lauded the efforts of the board and superintendent in the past three years she has not been with them, including the dual degree a student could graduate with from Wilson Early College High School.

She expressed values of family, community and literacy.

Candidate Debra Ambroise spoke fondly of her mother, whom she said was not with her physically but spiritually. She soon followed up highlighting her more than 30 years serving and volunteering in the PAISD.

“I’m an advocate for public education and a proud product of the Port Arthur Independent School District,” she said. “Lincoln class of 1979.”

Ambroise pointed to the accomplishments the district has managed since she’s been on the board, including all Port Arthur schools meeting state standard, the construction of new and innovative schools district wide and the creation of a five-year District of Innovation Plan formed by Port Arthur citizens.

Ambroise likewise spoke of the importance of the Port Arthur Early College High School and the Tax Ratification Election that enabled teachers to have raises.

“Everybody spoke about their moms, so I just want to say my mom is here,” candidate Brandon Bartie said during his allotted speaking time.

Bartie channeled the energy of a pastor, expressing his passion for the school board that he’s already serving with.

“This is my passion to be on the school board,” he said. “To educate and to show our kids… how to go and where to go and what to do.”

Bartie touched upon main themes of the forum, such as community, education and responsibility.

“From this day on, it’s not about me or Ambroise or Johnson or Brown; it’s about the kids we’re trying to make better people for tomorrow,” he said. “When we as a community come together and raise our kids as a village.”

Bartie stressed his role as board member for the Port Arthur district: “I’m here for your children to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow and to make sure that when they leave PAISD, they have a diploma in hand.”

Election day for school board candidates is from 7 a.m. to 7p.m. on May 5. Early voting runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 23 to 27 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 30 and May 1.