PHOTOS — Last two Port Arthur councilmembers sworn in; share first thoughts with city

Published 2:11 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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The fifth floor of City Hall Wednesday was filled with bittersweet moments and emotion as the Port Arthur City Council said goodbye to one last councilperson before welcoming two new ones following the June runoff election.

Kenneth Marks began his last day in office by delivering the invocation, praying for the council and its new representatives. Following the canvasing of votes, Marks gave his final remarks, which began by thanking his wife and family.

“First of all, I thank my mother who passed in February 2019 and gave me good counsel as I prepared to run for this seat,” he said. “I want to thank my brother, Ralph, who passed in March of 2022. He did all of the grunt work for my campaign during 2020. He was not here to help this time around, and he was sorely missed.”

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Marks served the city in some capacity for more than 20 years.

“I must say it has been challenging and rewarding serving on this council. I sincerely believe that I am a public servant, not a politician, and I carry myself that way. I attempted to and I think I succeeded at building relationships with constituents, with staff, with colleagues. And I treated everyone that I worked with or encountered with respect in all segments of our district,” Mark said.

“I prided myself on standing up for staff whenever we were out in public and they were being disparaged. In my work on the school board, on the burn committees, on the (Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation) and finally here on council; I strove to carry myself and conduct myself in that manner — as a public servant.”

Prior to exiting the bench, the outgoing councilman left a message for those who were soon to be sworn in.

“I just want to share with you one of my favorite Bible verses,” he said. “It comes from Proverbs 3; 5-7 and it says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, and always acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.’”

Religion remained at the forefront after District 3 Councilwoman Doneane Beckcom and District 4 Councilman Harold Doucet took their Oath of Office.

“First of all I have to thank God because He is the reason I am here,” Beckcom said. “When this started back in January, He was the first person that I turned to after my husband just to seek guidance, so I know that He has a plan and a purpose and that’s why I’m here.”

Beckcom, who replaced Thomas Kinlaw III after he won election in an at-large seat, won the race against opponent Wanda Bodden by securing 68 percent of the votes.

She credited her husband, as well as the many who have worked by her side for six months through two elections.

“There were about 100 people that worked on my campaign, and they were from all across Southeast Texas,” she said. “They weren’t just District 3; they weren’t just Port Arthur. They were Port Neches, Nederland, Beaumont, Bridge City — I had people all over Southeast Texas helping me. And that speaks volumes about Southeast Texas, because other cities are concerned about Port Arthur just like we are.”

Beckcom also lightly addressed misconceptions spoken about her during the campaign.

“Anybody that knows me, knows that I am a woman of faith and integrity, that I am a consummate professional in everything that I do — not just in my career but in everything that I do,” she said. “And I hold myself and others to very high moral and ethical standards, and that is what I bring to council. That’s how I will conduct myself on council.”

Doucet was declared representative of District 4 after defeating Marks in the runoff. Doucet held the position from 2018 through 2020, when he opted not to run again. Marks won the seat back then, but was defeated in the 2023 runoff when Doucet garnered 58.84 percent of the votes.

“I really care about this city, and I really care about the citizens. I, too, am a public servant and not a politician,” Doucet said. “A public servant — you always recognize that they know that they are public servants. They are the people that know they are the lowest person on the totem pole. We’re not special. We’re not privileged. And above all, we always ask, ‘What can I do for you?’”

He then paraphrased words often spoken by a former councilmember.

“This seat I’m sitting in, this is not my seat. It’s the citizens’ seat. It’s the city’s seat,” he said. “I sit in it because the citizens elected me to sit in their seat and be their voice to represent them, say what they want me to say, do what they expect me to do. If you want to know how I feel about something, you’ll have to wait until I get outside the chamber doors.

“Because when I walk through that door, how Doucet feels is left out there. How Doucet thinks is left out there. Everybody has a responsibility and a duty. And once again I will hold everyone accountable, starting with me. I’m going to do what’s right.”