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UPDATED: Voters make final decisions on District 1 & Position 8 Port Arthur City Council positions

Two more first-timers will be sworn into the Port Arthur City Council for 2021 following their victories in Saturday’s runoff election.

Ingrid West Holmes decisively won the race for District 1 in her first attempt at public office. The Port Arthur native and former Beaumont public health director earned 63.16 percent of the vote, beating former Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis 456-266.

“I thought it would be a little closer, but I just think I had an awesome team of people,” Holmes said. “I think the community spoke, and I won’t let them down.”

In the race for at-large Position 8, the Rev. Donald Ray Frank Sr. beat Raymond Scott Jr. by a narrow 917-858 count. Frank, who has been serving as a Port Arthur Independent School District trustee, tallied 51.66 percent of the votes and defeated the outgoing District 1 councilman.

“It’s over, thank God,” Frank said. “It means everything to me. Thank God for the victory and of course, my prayers are going out to the mayor, whose battling COVID.”

Mayor Thurman Bartie, whose term expires in 2022, announced to local media Friday he was undergoing treatment for coronavirus at a Friendswood hospital after a colonoscopy earlier in the week.

Long campaigns over

The runoffs concluded an extended election season due to the effects of COVID-19. The general election was scheduled for May but was postponed to November.

The votes took less than an hour to be voted after the polls closed Saturday, and the city council is now filled for 2021 with three first-time members. Kenneth Marks won the District 4 chair in the Nov. 3 general election and is already serving. Canvassing of the runoff votes is scheduled for Dec. 30.

Through early voting, Holmes had 384 votes to Lewis’ 231, including a 161-143 edge in absentee voting.

The race was much tighter going into Saturday’s votes in the Position 8 race. Frank garnered 10 more votes — 777-767 — than Scott after picking up a 403-339 edge in early voting. Scott had 428 absentee votes to Frank’s 374.

To-do lists

Holmes said she had no “real campaign promises” but wanted to listen to the people during the election and plans to do the same on council.

“I think the first thing I want to do is take a breather for now, for a week, and I want to get into the issues that are impacting the community,” Holmes said. “I want to make sure I understand everything clearly, and I want to make the right decisions for this community as I work with other councilmembers. We have experienced councilmembers, and I am elated to serve with them. I am elated the community thought of me and elected me to this position.”

Frank succeeds his ex-wife Kaprina Frank, who had reached term limits, on the council. He said Saturday he was “grateful for Mr. Scott and the race that he ran.”

Scott reached term limits in the District 1 position.

“The first thing I want to do is listen,” Frank said. “The city has to move to fixing the infrastructure. Those things are happening.”

Frank also stressed the importance of raising the quality of life in Port Arthur, adding he’d like to help the council attract high-quality restaurants and recreation centers.

Frank continued to serve on the PAISD board during his campaign. His last meeting on the board was Thursday night.

“I thank the city for trusting me to serve the most valuable assets for 20 years, our young people,” Frank said. “I also want to thank the city for trusting me to serve at the highest level.”

Frank said he mentioned to the school board an influx of business is coming to the city, naming the arrival of the US Development Group’s and USA Rail’s Port Arthur terminals and the PAISD’s acquisition of the former Bishop Byrne High School campus.

Another focus he mentioned is helping small business recover from the effects of COVID-19.

Holmes also expressed thanks to those who voted in the runoff, especially those who elected her.

“I am truly excited,” she said.

Turnout

Of 28,559 voters registered for the runoff, 1,562 voted early, accounting for a 5.47 percent turnout. The total grew to 1,801 (6.31 percent turnout) following Election Day voting.

“I’m grateful we’re going to be afforded the opportunity as Mrs. Holmes comes on just to join other leaders,” Donald Frank said. “I really think the city of Port Arthur deserves to know where it can be. We have not seen our best days yet.”

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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