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Review 9 charter propositions on Port Arthur ballot; rest of city & Mid-County races

Port Arthur voters who will cast their ballots on Election Day (Nov. 3) will have more than city councilmembers to choose.

Nine propositions that could change the city charter have been placed on the city ballot, which is separate from the Jefferson County ticket that includes countywide, statewide and federal elections.

Here’s a look at each proposition, lettered A through I, requiring a “for” or “against” vote:

  • A — Numbering councilmember positions (to change Article II, Sections 1 and 1A of the Port Arthur city charter)

Beginning in May 2023, each councilmember position will be numbered from 1-6, meaning the at-large position numbers will be changed from 7 and 8 to 5 and 6, respectively. The previous districts 5 and 6 were removed from the council in 2018.

Councilmembers elected to positions 5 and 6 in 2023 would be elected to one four-year term. A councilmember who has previously been elected to position 5 or 6 in May 2023 and has served a term from 2020-23 may not serve more than seven years in the same office.

  • B — Residence eligibility (to change Article II, Section 2)

The mayor and all councilmembers must be residents of the city for one year preceding their election and shall maintain residence in the city during the term of office. The mayor and two at-large councilmembers may reside in any district. Each councilmember representing districts 1-4 must be a resident of the district (s)he represents for at least one year and maintain residents in that district during the term of office.

  • C — Mayor Pro Tem (to change Article II, Section 9)

The office of mayor pro tem shall rotate in sequence with each councilmember serving a one-year term until each councilmember serves a one-year term in the order of district or at-large number. The order shall repeat thereafter.

The mayor pro tem acts as mayor during the absence or disability of the mayor and will have power to perform every act the mayor would if present.

  • D — Regular and special meetings (to change Article II, Section 10)

Regular meetings of the city council will be held at times and places as set by ordinance. Special meetings may be called at any time by the city secretary upon request of the mayor, the city manager or three councilmembers.

  • E — Governance of Sabine Lake and Pleasure Island (to change Article XVIII, Section 1)

The governance of Port Arthur territory “in and under” Sabine Lake and lands commonly known as Pleasure Island, including those acquired or added to afterward, will be a subcomponent of city government.

  • F — Pleasure Island Department (to change Article XVIII, Section 2)

The council will create a Pleasure Island Department by ordinance. The city manager will direct and control the department in the same manner as other city departments.

  • G — Pleasure Island Commission advisory board (to change Article XVIII, sections 3-7)

The council shall create an advisory board to assist the city manager known as the Pleasure Island Commission by ordinance. The Pleasure Island Commission members shall be appointed by the governing body and correspond with the total number of members of the governing body.

  • H — Adoption of 1/8-percent tax

A sales and use to be used by the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation for the promotion and development of new and expanded business enterprises at the rate of one-eighth of 1 percent will be adopted. This will result in a total Type A sales and use tax of one-half of 1 percent.

  • I — Sale of city parks

If voted in favor, the city council would be authorized to sell Carver Terrace, Civic, Felix & Milton Barker, Hughen, Immigrant and Montgomery parks for fair market value. Parks and Recreation officials have said there are not enough workers to properly maintain all 35 of the city’s parks, and they hope to attain additional funding (not specified in this proposition) to maintain the remaining 29.

The propositions comprise the city’s special election. The general election, included on the same city ballot, includes races for all six council positions (excluding Mayor Thurman Bartie, who is elected through 2022).

The candidates, listed in ballot order (and statuses of current councilmembers) include:

  • District 1: Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr., Mike Mason and Ingrid West Holmes (Raymond Scott Jr. is term-limited at this position but running in Position 8):
  • District 2: Cal Jones (incumbent) and Armando Ruiz
  • District 3: Charlie Lewis Jr., Morris Albright III and Thomas Kinlaw III (incumbent)
  • District 4: Greg Richard, Jonathan Sanchez and Kenneth Marks (Harold Doucet has chosen to not run for re-election)
  • Position 7: Charlotte Moses (incumbent), Yadi Cardenas and Rashad A. Harris
  • Position 8: Tieranny S. DeCuir, Rosendo Ochoa Jr., John Roy LeBlanc, Donald Ray Frank Sr. and Raymond Scott Jr. (Kaprina Frank is term-limited at this position).

The final regular meeting involving the present city council is Nov. 10.

Other PA and Mid-County races.

Port Arthur ISD

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

The top two vote getters earn the seats.

Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7

  • 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.
  • The PA seat held by James Gamble is uncontested.

Groves City Council

Four seats are up for grabs in Groves.

  • Incumbent Mayor Brad Bailey has opted not to run for reelection, and two current councilmembers, Ward 1 Councilmember Chris Borne and Ward 2 Councilmember Karen Theis are running for the spot of mayor.
  • Ward 1: Incumbent Borne is running for mayor. If he loses, he maintains his seat because his term is not up. If he wins the mayor’s race, someone will be appointed to complete his unexpired term.
  • Ward 2: Jeremy Young, Paul Oliver has filed for the seat. Should Theis lose the mayor’s race, she will also lose her council seat because her term is up.
  • Ward 4: Incumbent Kyle Hollier and Rhonda Dugas are running.
  • City Marshal: Incumbent Norman Reynolds Jr. has filed, as has Tommy Smith.

Port Neches city

  • Place 3: Incumbent John Davenport has filed (no challengers)
  • Place 5: Incumbent Julie Gauthier will not run for reelection. Terry Schwertner filed for the seat.

Jefferson County sheriff

  • The race for Jefferson County Sheriff pits current sheriff Zena Stephens against challenger David Odom.

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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