Local elections beginning to be pushed back to November

Published 4:20 am Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Local entities are taking a second look at whether they should go ahead with the May 2 election, and at least one entity has pushed its election date to November.

Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7 on Monday postponed their election until Nov. 3. The decision was unanimous.

Phil Kelley, manager of DD7, said postponing the election until November clears the way for the county clerk’s office to allow the entity to partner with the county.

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Kelley said they usually handle their own election, which is a pretty big task. Under Texas Election Code, they must approve an election judge, two election clerks and two alternates for each polling location. Typically those are senior citizens.

They also hire a contractor to provide the equipment — in their case it’s Election Systems and Software Company. The company has already communicated with Kelley saying they may not be able to provide some of their services because of the emergency order against gatherings of more than 10 people.

Four candidates are vying for a commissioner’s seat representing Port Neches. They include Matt Vincent, Eric Adams, Rand Holtram and Jim Parson.

Two candidates are vying for the commissioner’s seat representing Groves; Richard “Dickie” Beaumont and Mike Cabaniss.

Port Arthur city and PAISD

The City of Port Arthur canceled a special meeting that was set for Tuesday where they were to decide whether to postpone their council and special elections.

The city is working to be able to operate at a distance in light of COVID-19 and the 10-person rule, city manager Ron Burton said. There is a program that can be used to show the meeting to the public, and staff is working to learn the program.

The 10-person issue is a bit of a problem.

“With everything that is happening, I can’t even call a full staff meeting where all are present,” Burton said. “I have to schedule a cycle at a time to get to the agenda. We are working to make sure we operate as normal as possible.”

Burton said the election issue would likely be taken up at the city’s March 31 meeting.

The city has a lengthy ballot with three candidates seeking the District 1 seat: Ingrid West Holmes, Willie “Bae” Lewis and Mike Mason; two candidates are running for District 2: incumbent Cal Jones and Armando Ruiz; and three candidates for District 3: incumbent Thomas Kinlaw III, Captain, U.S. Army (ret.), Morris Albright III, and Charlie Lewis Jr.

District 4 has three candidates vying for the seat: Kenneth Wayne Marks, Greg K. Richard and Jonathan Sanchez.

Position 7 incumbent councilmember Charlotte Marie Moses has drawn two opponents: Rashad A. Harris and Yadi Cardenas. Position 8 has five candidates: Tieranny S. DeCuir, Raymond Scott Jr., Rosendo Ochoa Jr., Donald R. Frank and John Roy LeBlanc.

The city also has a special election with a number of propositions.

Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Mark Porterie said the district and city usually partner together on elections, and the ISD will follow the lead of the city.

PAISD has three candidates are vying for two spots on the board of trustees: incumbents Dianne Brown, a retired school district employee, and Kenneth W. Lofton Sr., process operator, are joined by Joseph Guillory II who previously held a seat on the board.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation suspending provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow political subdivisions to postpone their 2020 local elections, meaning local governments have the ability to postpone their May 2 election until Nov. 3, according the Office of the Texas Governor.

“I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November,” Abbott said. “Right now, the state’s focus is responding to COVID-19 — including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort.”