ELECTION GUIDE — Port Arthur mayor’s race includes 4 candidates

Published 12:40 am Friday, April 22, 2022

Editor’s note: Ahead of the May 7 election, Port Arthur Newsmedia asked the four candidates for Port Arthur mayor identical questions. Candidates who gave longer answers were informed their responses could be edited for space. Early voting runs from April 25 through May 3.

Thurman Bartie

Name: Thurman Bartie
Date of birth: July 21, 1954
Profession: Mayor

Why are you running? I want to continue the progress, and the progress I’ve made as far as differences in infrastructure, drainage, making sure our budget is intact and balanced. The work with the citizenry as far as trying to get things done that citizens want done that are all within the scope of the law. And because I am a public servant and I enjoy serving in a capacity where I can help my fellow man.

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What is your chief concern/issues you want to address? I like to be sure that our infrastructure, again, is addressed. A lot of it is old because we’re an older city. So to be sure we are able to do whatever repairs or new construction to infrastructure that’s possible. Also, I would have to be in meetings, be in places where those issues are being discussed, where funding for those programs are being discussed and the money is being disseminated. If you’re not present, then you’re not considered. That’s a big concern that I have for citizens to understand, that contrary to some negative beliefs that folks would say I’m just traveling to be traveling, no. When I travel, it’s to represent the City of Port Arthur and to be sure we are at the table when the discussion takes place so we get our piece of the pie, so to speak.

Why are you the best choice? I’m the best candidate right now because of the experience that I gained in the past 35 months, and what I would like to continue because of what I’ve begun. And so with those two thoughts in mind, that would place me — not in some conceited way or thinking of conceit — above the pack because of the foreknowledge that I am possessing because of my service. With the interactions that I have had with citizens, the interactions that I have and relationships that I’ve been able to foster with council, with the city manager, with the city administration, places me in a real unique position. And that unique position is to be reelected as mayor because we want to continue the progress.

Floyd Batiste

Name: Floyd Batiste
Date of birth: October 6, 1952
Profession: Retired executive director of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation

Why are you running? I have been working for the city for the last 17-plus years, and after retirement I’m in the consulting business right now. When I look back at the city and the opportunity that Port Arthur has…I said we have to take advantage of the opportunities or they’re going to pass us by again. I don’t think, in my opinion, that…the other candidates have the experience, the knowledge, to take this community to another level.

What is your chief concern/issues you want to address? Communication. Transparency. Having worked with the Economic Development Corporation…I think the missing component we have is that we are not communicating with the other entities. With the EDC on a quarterly basis, myself and Dr. (Betty) Reynard with Lamar State College, and Larry Kelly with the Port, Phil Kelley with the drainage district, Dr. (Mark) Porterie with the school district — we would all meet and just talk about Port Arthur and what is it that we could do to make it a better place for all of us. My other big concern is transparency. I think too much is not being told to the people — why we’re doing this, why we’re not doing this. There’s too much discussion behind closed doors, (and) the people never know what the discussion is about. We are representatives of the people for the people. I think the people need to be more involved. To fix this thing, it’s not going to be Floyd; it’s not going to be any of the other candidates. It’s going to be all of us working together.

Why are you the best choice? My experience. I know how to get things done. I know how to bring people together. I know how to involve everybody. My experience, in my opinion, far exceeds the other candidates. They may know more about politics, but I’m not a politician. I’m a public servant. My experience with business and industry is just a plus for this community. I believe good business brings about good communities, and I believe in having everybody at the table. Bringing people together for a common cause.

Matthews Christian Jr.

Name: Matthews Christian Jr.
Date of birth: September 11, 1059
Profession: Retired from Motiva

Why are you running? I feel the city and the government needs to be reunited where we can start working together to make Port Arthur a better and beautiful safe place to live.

What is your chief concern/issues you want to address? My main (issue) is the roads in certain neighborhoods in Port Arthur, and the vacant houses that have just been run down and dilapidated but still standing. Those houses and roads need to be torn down and repaired, and it’s not being done. I feel like it shouldn’t look like this. Port Arthur used to be a beautiful place to live. I was born and raised right here, so I’ve seen many changes throughout my time here. The crime and the violence in our youth and young adults is getting way out of hand, and that’s another thing we need to focus on.

Why are you the best choice? I feel like I could bring everyone together to where we could start working together. Where I was at Motiva and the things I was doing, the power of “we” is way stronger than the power of “I.” We got more things done by working together with each other and understanding each other, and knowing that it’s OK to disagree with each other but we’re all working for a common goal.

Willie “Bae” Lewis

Name: Willie “Bae” Lewis
Date of birth: January 1, 1944
Profession: Retired from Valero

Why are you running? I’ve got 30 years experience in city government, and that’s needed. The lack of experience of city council is one of the big issues in the complaints that the citizens are not getting the services they are paying for. They’re not getting their streets repaired. They’re not getting their garbage that they’re paying for picked up. They’re not getting their trash and stuff picked up. And they’re paying for all of these services.

What is your chief concern/issues you want to address? My No. 1 priority is to correct the flooding on W. 17th, W. 18th, and W. 19th streets. They flood quite often. What I’m going to do is tie W. 19th Street into E. 19th Street (using a) zwolle ditch, and that will be gravity flow. You don’t have to pump it. (An additional priority) is to get a referendum for the half-cent sales tax. I’d like to take a portion of the half-cent sales tax for four years to do four…projects. But the citizens have to authorize it by ballot. And I would like for four years, we set aside one quarter up to three-eighths of that half-cent sales tax to do projects. And after four years the council would have the authority by majority vote to extend it for an additional four years. The projects would be street reconstruction, street maintenance, and seal coating streets every three years to keep the moisture out. That increases the life of the streets up to 15-20 years. (Also) close all avenues without houses. We’re repairing streets with no homes.

Why are you the best choice? I’ve got 30 years experience in Port Arthur city government. I was one of the plaintiffs that transformed city government from at-large voting to single-member district. I understand city government. I did all these things four years prior to serving on Port Arthur city council. That opened everything. (African American residents) were the minorities then, and that allowed representation for minorities at the time. Now we’re no longer the minority, but the new minorities — that’s the Hispanics and the Anglos — do not have access to the system.

MORE: See the Nederland ISD school board election guide

MORE: See the Port Arthur ISD school board election guide