3 now running for Port Arthur mayor’s seat

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The candidate pool for the City of Port Arthur mayor’s seat grew to three Wednesday.

Incumbent Mayor Thurman Bartie and former councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis filed their applications at the beginning of the filing period in mid-January.

Bartie, who is running for his second term in office, said he is seeking reelection because work started under his administration still needs to be completed.

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“The Lord allowed me another opportunity to run,” Bartie said. “I would like the citizens to allow me to continue to the progress I’ve made.”

He believes his incumbency and experience set him apart from the other candidates.

“I think the citizens can judge how effective I’ve been in the past 2 and-a-half years or so — the passion I bring to the office and the governance I attempted to exemplify while governing,” he said.

Floyd Batiste, former CEO of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, filed his application Feb. 2.

Batiste, now retired, said he believes his experience in economic development and communication skills make him a good candidate.

“After praying and looking at the two candidates in the city who filed, I think I could help the city out,” Batiste said. “Being in economic development for 17 years, I know the ins and outs of the city.

“I’m not saying anything negative about Mayor Bartie or former councilman Lewis, but I don’t think they have the ability to bring this together for the community,” he said.

Batiste said he feels he has a track record of bringing people.

“My reason for running, and I hope people understand, I’m not a politician but a public servant,” he said, adding more communication, transparency and compassion are needed.

Lewis, who previously served on council for decades, said one of the main reasons he decided to run was to save the city from paying approximately $1 million a year in an interest payment on money from a bond issue earmarked to fix streets and drainage.

He laid out a plan where a portion of the economic development corporation’s funding — a portion of a half of a cent for every dollar of sales tax — would go to a separate fund to fix streets and drainage.

He wants to enhance tourism in the city with projects in Sabine Pass and Pleasure Island, and said he believes he is the best candidate for the job because he gets things done.

He recalled some of the first tax abatements issued when he was in office including large businesses and a tank farm — some of which he said lead to Motiva’s decision to buy the buildings in downtown Port Arthur.

Election day is May 7. Early voting runs April 25 through May 3.

Feb. 18 is the last day to file to run in the election.