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COLUMN – The skinny: Port Arthur mayor’s race

Our editorial today endorses incumbent Mayor Derrick Freeman in the May 4th Port Arthur mayoral race. Here are additional reasons why.

He often describes himself as “Rated Most Hated” by haters against change for a better Port Arthur. I know this feeling well because I am, if not even with him, running a very close second for the same reasons.

Change is difficult for some. Especially for voters who support other candidates promising the stars, but who delivered the same ol’ same ol’. Yet they are supported over and over, year after year. Doesn’t make a bit of sense.

Mayor Freeman has a vision for Port Arthur. It’s a vision that brings back a vibrant community that has long been lost by administrations of the past. He fights for something not many can see, an actual future that positively affects all citizens.

There are those that have issues with how the city handled flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey. But let’s get real! When the storm hit Port Arthur, it was a “Tropical Storm,” not a hurricane. Yes, we were supposed to have flooding from much rain, but not even the National Weather Service out of Lake Charles predicted we would receive over 5 feet of rain — the most rainfall ever in the U.S.

 

I mention this because there are individuals and other candidates that want to use the flooding for political grandstanding, when it should not be. It is very wrong to use a freak natural disaster to say “I am better than you, because of this.”

Let’s add that no other mayor has been able to make such huge strides in offering hope that a once vibrant downtown can be that again. Other city councils have spent thousands on downtown revitalization plans to only see nothing happen. Not Mayor Freeman.

Looking at the candidates running against him in May, we would be hard pressed to think any of them would do better. In fact, some have proven they can’t while others just don’t seem to have the savvy to have business talks with a Motiva, for instance.

I like Chuck Vincent. He has a gung-ho attitude and a drive to see things get better. To date, much of his focus has been around his own community of Port Acres, and rightly so. That is where he lives and seems most concerned. As I have said before with other first-time candidates, it is my opinion that he needs experience as a council member over a district first, prior to making the jump into a mayor’s seat. I would consider supporting Vincent in the 2020 election when District 4 will be up for grabs, if he so chooses to run.

Thurman Bartie is another candidate who says he wants change. Unfortunately, this conversation is short lived, as we will not endorse a candidate for public office who had previously been removed from another elected position. Sorry: Can’t do it.

As for former City Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis, all voters need to do is look around your community and ask ourselves one question: “Is this what he’s done for us through his more than 20 years on City Council?” Easy answer.

Lowra Henderson is much the same as those above. I do feel she needs to sit on the council over a district prior to making a bid for mayor. If her overall goal is to ultimately become mayor of Port Arthur, she needs to run for one of the many open seats in the 2020 elections to gain experience. We wish her luck.

Through this process there has only been one candidate that can do as much as Mayor Freeman can do, and that is the mayor himself. Others state they can, but have yet to show it. There’s much talk about needed change, but I see that change already beginning.

Think about it: Could any of the other four candidates have been able to sit across the table from Motiva executives and negotiate the agreement that ultimately saw Motiva purchase two buildings in our downtown area? Yes, buildings with trees growing out of the windows.

Only visionaries can do this. Mayor Freeman deserves a second term.

And God help us if he doesn’t get it.

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News.