Kenneth Marks, Harold Doucet share Port Arthur opportunities, concerns ahead of runoff election
Published 12:32 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Incumbent councilman Kenneth Marks and former councilman Harold Doucet are headed to a run-off for the District 4 seat in Port Arthur.
The City Council is set to canvass the election and vote on the date of the run-off election during Wednesday’s special meeting. A tentative date for the election is June 24, according to information from the City of Port Arthur.
Four candidates vied for the seat in the May 6 Election, Allen, “Opie” Valka, Alicia Gayle Marshall, Doucet and Marks.
Neither Doucet nor Marks pulled more than 50 percent of the vote. Doucet came in with a total of 353 votes for 45.67 percent of the ballots cast, while Marks brought in 252 votes for 32.60 percent of ballots cast.
Kenneth Marks is looking to retain his seat on City Council.
Marks, a retired purchasing manager with Ashland Chemicals, first ran for office in 2020 after being persuaded to run by now retired Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation Director Floyd Batiste and the then outgoing councilman Harold Doucet.
And now Marks is seeking reelection in order to see a number of projects to fruition that began in his tenure.
There are two major drainage projects in his district, one in El Vista and one in Port Acres, as well as a third that is getting started in Districts 3.
A new fire station for the Port Acres area is in the design phase and there are plans for a new fire station for the city’s West Side. Marks said the city is looking for a location since the current site will not accommodate the new footprint.
Marks also noted finance issues he has questioned and hopes to see those issues resolved, he said.
“There’s a lot of work that has begun and that’s one of the reasons I’m running,” Marks said, adding people he has spoken with in his district have indicated he’s been doing a good job and want him to run for reelection.
When asked to speak on the challenges the city is facing, Marks listed several.
“Infrastructure is challenging. Streets, drainage, the actual scheduling of services, providing services to our constituents and making sure we are being as effective as we possibly can,” he said.
Some of those issues are part of the city manager’s purview and the council gives him direction on what they want done for the residents.
Marks said when he initially ran in 2020, one of the major issues for the city was trash pickup. Since then the city has replaced a number of equipment that was lost or destroyed in Hurricane Harvey.
He said the city is trying to ensure they are on schedule and on time.
“We also want to ensure we’re communicating with our constituents to let them know exactly what’s being done with their tax dollars, how we’re spending their tax dollars and make sure we account for all those tax dollars,” he said.
Marks said when he first came on council in 2020 the focus was on downtown revitalization. There was a revitalization plan and Motiva had announced the purchase of several buildings and intent to move offices downtown.
The downtown plan revolved around Motiva, then COVID hit and work stopped. Now those plans are being revisited.
Marks said he kept his platform promises from 2020 of infrastructure, accountability and financial stability, which is where his focus remains.
Harold Doucet is not new to holding a position on council, having previously served from May 2018 to November 2020.
A retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major, Doucet believes his experience will help contribute to what the city needs in a leader.
When asked to speak on the challenges the city faces, Doucet named several.
One challenge he said is being able to manage the revenue the city has and receives.
He said the city also needs to set priorities and work toward those accomplishments instead of going from one thing to another to another.
“The government is set up to provide services and take care of its citizens so that what the citizens are the most concerned about should always be your priority,” Doucet said. “There’s no excuse for not providing the services they pay for.”
The services include garbage pickup, water, sewer, drainage and beautification. Those are the things citizens will let city leaders know they are not pleased with.
“You don’t have to wonder what we have to do. All you have to do is listen to the citizens. The citizens always tell you what should be your priority,” he said.
Doucet used an example of trash pickup. This service is supposed to be done every two weeks but often trash sits in front of houses or in a neighborhood for three to four weeks. This brings down property value and is an eyesore.
“Leaders need to understand it is OK when things are broken but you have to fix things in a timely manner and stop giving excuses,” he said.
Doucet also said streets are an issue and people want to know why. He wants to get the streets program going where contractors are doing the reconstruction and city crews do the resurfacing, just as it was set up to run years ago, he said.
“There’s no excuse you can give me as to why they didn’t fit it. It’s inexcusable,” he said.
The process for getting streets reconstructed and repaired is there and needs to be followed.
Doucet’s goals, if elected, are to ensure the city’s money is being spent and managed properly and not being wasted or misappropriated.
Doucet feels voters should choose him because of his experience; more than 30 years in the military shows his level of responsibility. He compared it to that of a city manager who must deal with personnel, budget and hold people accountable.
“That’s what has enabled me to do well and be the voice of the citizens because I can do the homework and make sure I put in the time,” he said.