Former mayoral candidates talk with runoff contestants ahead of election

Published 12:22 am Thursday, May 12, 2022

Following their Saturday elimination from the mayoral race, former candidates Willie “Bae” Lewis and Matthews Christian Jr. have spoken with Thurman Bartie and Floyd Batiste regarding endorsements for the June 11 runoff election.

Lewis, a former councilman, said he is backing Batiste.

“Floyd Batiste is like me,” Lewis said. “He’s not a conformist. He’s a transformer. He brings a charge for the betterment for the city and the taxpayers.”

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The two worked together in city government while Batiste served as CEO of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation. He resigned in 2021 following 17 years with the department, which followed a career with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Lewis said Batiste’s experience with TWC was a driving factor in making him an asset to the EDC.

“He’s quite capable of leading the city,” Lewis said. “He has all that experience that he brings with him — workforce and EDC director.”

Christian said he has met with one candidate and plans to meet with the other Friday, and will release his endorsement immediately after.

Bartie and Batiste previously addressed their platform to Port Arthur Newsmedia.

Bartie said he planned to focus on infrastructure.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Batiste said he would work on communication and 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,” he said. “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.”

On Saturday, Bartie won 47.28 percent of the vote and Batiste took 26.44 percent. More than 50 percent of the vote is needed to avoid a runoff.

Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 31 through June 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 6-7. Election day is Saturday, June 11 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.