PA voters to weigh in on PA Council designations, city commissions, park sales

Published 12:12 am Friday, February 14, 2020

Thursday’s special Port Arthur City Council meeting was dominated by additions to several items on the May 2 general election ballot.

The ballot includes six council positions elections. Mayor Thurman Bartie’s position is not up for election as he is completing the first year of a three-year term.

Five propositions regarding amendments to the city charter will be placed:

  • Proposition 1 would re-numerate the two at-large positions on the council from 7 and 8 to 5 and 6. Voters in 2016 elected to eliminate the former districts 5 and 6 on the city council, taking effect in 2018.

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The city’s charter advisory committee suggested to the council in a Feb. 8 special meeting to have councilmembers elected by plurality vote and have limits for at-large officials changed to three two-year terms from two three-year terms, which is the limit for everyone on the council. The council voted against that change.

The proposition also provides for staggering of the at-large terms from other terms. If passed, the at-large councilmember would be elected to one four-year term starting in May 2023, with the winners of those seats in May 2017 to serve three-year terms. If an at-large person has served a three-year term from 2020-23, he or she would be limited to serving a four-year term in May 2023.

  • Proposition No. 2 would require each councilmember in districts 1-4 to be a resident of the district of which he represents for one year prior to the election and maintain residence in that district.
  • Proposition No. 3 would rotate the Mayor Pro Tem designation in numeral sequence with each councilmember serving one year in that designation. The Mayor Pro Tem acts in the absence of the mayor.
  • Proposition No. 4 would reduce the number of councilmembers needed to request to the city secretary call a special meeting from four to three. The mayor or city manager may also request such a meeting.
  • Proposition No. 5 would create a Pleasure Island Department and Pleasure Island Advisory Commission to advise the city manager.

Another ballot item will be for or against the collective sale of the following city parks: Carver Terrace, Civic, Hughen, Barker, Immigrant and Montgomery. The parks will not be voted for or against individually.

The ballot will also include a proposition that would allow the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation to donate one-eighth of its revenue from a ½-cent sales tax toward recreational or facility projects for four years.

**Updated to reflect that Lakeshore Park and the Pleasure Island Golf Course are not among the locations proposed for sale**

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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