Thomas Kinlaw announces re-election campaign for District 3 city council seat

Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 1, 2020

Port Arthur District 3 Councilman Thomas Kinlaw said Friday he has filed to run for re-election.

Kinlaw, 51, is completing his first term on the council and says he’s been focusing on addressing problems with streets and drainage, as well as bringing new businesses to Port Arthur. He serves as chairman of the city’s tax increment reinvestment zone committee, which collaborates with other tax entities to increase the tax base downtown, and is on the Industrial District Agreement committee.

TIRZ works “to get people to come into Port Arthur and to invest their businesses, and we can improve the city,” Kinlaw said. “Those are some of the positive things we’ve done. The Motiva expansion is something else we want to get involved with. The Motiva project downtown, with the current council and [Economic Development Corporation], we’re able to get that taken care of. We’re in the final stages of closing the contract.”

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Prior to being elected to the council, Kinlaw served six years on the Port Arthur Independent School District board, including two as president. He was elected to the council five months before Hurricane Harvey arrived in Port Arthur in 2017.

“I lost everything in my house, just like the average citizen did,” Kinlaw said. “Taking care of my business and city business, and at the same time you want to assure you’re capable of doing that, being a quality leader. I hope people really understand it’s not an easy job, but we wanted to assure that Port Arthur is safe and can return back to normal after the reconstruction period.”

During that period, the council sought housing opportunities for people who wanted to return to work to fix their homes, Kinlaw said. The council also worked with the Governor’s office to secure funding to fix homes.

“I was fortunate to be with a council that understood the long-term effects it could possibly do on the city,” Kinlaw said.

A 1987 Lincoln High School graduate, Kinlaw enlisted and served 25 years in the U.S. Army. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, Kinlaw became a medical service officer in the Army. He was deployed three times and became a drill sergeant and recruiter.

“I was putting them in and showing them how to be soldiers at the same time,” Kinlaw said.

Kinlaw also earned a master’s degree in counseling and a Ph.D. in education leadership from Prairie View A&M University. He is married to Valerie Kinlaw and has a blended family of five children.

Former Councilman Morris Albright is challenging Kinlaw for the seat. Election day for city offices is May 2.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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