PA, PAISD candidates take questions at forum

Three candidates for the position of mayor of Port Arthur and four of the five candidates seeking seats on Port Arthur Independent School District board fielded questions during a Meet the Candidate Political Forum on Tuesday.

The event, sponsored by the Port Arthur Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., was held at Lamar State College Performing Arts Building.

Port Arthur mayoral candidates Harold Doucet, left, Derrick Freeman and Janice Milo field questions during a political forum hosted by the Port Arthur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.   Mary Meaux/The News

Port Arthur mayoral candidates Harold Doucet, left, Derrick Freeman and Janice Milo field questions during a political forum hosted by the Port Arthur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Mayoral candidates Harold Doucet, Derrick Freeman and Janice Milo field a variety of questions from what are the duties of the mayor and tax abatements to personal use of city vehicles by police officers to drug testing for all employees.

Milo commented that “quite a few officers live in Baytown” and bring their vehicles home with them. The wear and tear is not acceptable and taxpayers should not be paying for this.

Freeman agreed, Baytown is too far but said he believes in allowing for officers who live in the city to bring their vehicles home. A police unit, parked in the driveway, is a deterrent to crime.

Doucet said the issue is about policies and procedures and no vehicle should leave the city limits.

Drug testing for all city employees including police officers was also a topic for discussion and all three candidates were in favor of the testing.

“Employees should be randomly tested, including police officers,” Milo said, adding that the testing is standard in many places of employment.

Freeman said drug testing is especially important with police officers, as they constantly have to make judgment calls.

Doucet agreed. Employees are employees with the city and the city is liable for them.

“You take the drug test,” Doucet said. “You’re clean, your stay. You’re not, you’re gone. It’s the only way to do business.”

Five candidates are vying for two spots on PAISD board. One candidate, Michelle Lockwood-Snodgrass, was unable to attend the event due to a prior obligation. Candidates in attendance include Dianne Brown, the Rev. Donald Ray Frank Sr., Lloyd Marie Johnson and Robert Reid.

Port Arthur Independent School District trustee candidates Robert Reid, left, Lloyd Marie Johnson, the Rev. Donald Frank Sr. and Dianne Brown field questions during a political forum hosted by the Port Arthur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday. One candidate, Michelle Lockwood-Snodgrass, was unable to attend the event due to a prior obligation.    Mary Meaux/The News

Port Arthur Independent School District trustee candidates Robert Reid, left, Lloyd Marie Johnson, the Rev. Donald Frank Sr. and Dianne Brown field questions during a political forum hosted by the Port Arthur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday. One candidate, Michelle Lockwood-Snodgrass, was unable to attend the event due to a prior obligation.
Mary Meaux/The News

Questions proposed by the audience ranged from possibly changing the names of Robert E. Lee and Dick Dowling schools and parental involvement to the effectiveness of Memorial High School’s dean of discipline and how to recruit and retain qualified certified teachers.

All four candidates in attendance agreed parental involvement is vital to success of students but how to bring about the involvement differs from person to person.

Frank said parents need to be involved, engaged and empowered. Involved parents are those who attend games and sporting events; engaged parents are those who are PTA members and mentors in classrooms while empowered parents are those who do all and are involved in committees.

But there are also hard working single parents and those who work 12 hour shifts, making it difficult to be active at the school.

Johnson noted the district has embraced technology as a means to communicate and involve parents. The district has a webpage, Facebook page and more and also uses cell phones as way to communicate.

Reid harkened to a recent comment by PAISD Superintendent Mark Porterie who also stated he would like to see more parental involvement.

But those who need that message were not in attendance, Reid said.

“It was a problem in 1989 when I was at Woodrow Wilson 27 years ago, and this is an issue within the community now,” Reid said.

Brown suggested for parents to go to the schools, meet teachers, counselors and supervisors.

All of the candidates agreed that to attract these teachers would mean the district would have to offer competitive pay, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“At one time we were the highest paid school district in the area, and that changed for a variety of reasons,” Brown said, adding that bringing in mentors for teachers may help.

Frank said it is imperative teaches be brought to the level where others are and it would take a teacher with a bachelor’s degree 20 years to reach the $50,000 per year salary mark.

The district is currently paying millions back to Valero due to overpaid taxes. This issue is stretching the district’s budget.

Johnson also believes competitive salaries are needed but the Valero issue is one reason finances can’t be stretched further at this time.

Reid concurred with Johnson and added he would like to see every teacher start at the $50,000 mark, but with millions lost in the Valero lawsuit that isn’t quite possible.

Election day is May 7 and early voting begins April 25.

Email: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

Local

Groundbreaking kicks off work for Port Arthur’s new animal services center; see the details

Local

Fundraiser helping family of local man struck by vehicle in front yard; see how to help

Local

Louisiana man leads Port Neches police on chase. Not considering the welfare of others, chief says

Beaumont

Department of Transportation outlines closure of U.S. 69 northbound connector to Interstate 10

Local

Analyst “hopeful” Americans will soon see relief at the pump; see where Texas stands now

Columns

CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Put creativity on your “bucket” list and upcycle

Columns

HEALTHY LIVING — What to be concerned with that lingering cough

Local

Port Neches homes set for demolition after numerous violations, safety concerns

Local

Russell Buss hits milestone with special blood donation

Local

Carjacking Task Force targeting violent crime in Southeast Texas

Local

Port Arthur students excel at Top Teens of America event

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Memorial sophomore excels in prose interpretation

Local

RELIGION BRIEF — God 1st Missionary Baptist celebrating pastor’s anniversary

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Criticism Team comes up extra positive

Local

PHOTO FEATURE — Taking in the Symphony

Local

Dr. Avila Arcala left mark on Port Arthur and beyond; service planned Saturday

Local

Port Arthur ISD support center renovation full go; district leaders outline plans and timeline

Local

U.S. Navy for Port Arthur’s Hyleta Floyd is about service and family

Local

FIT BODY BOOT CAMP PUMPS UP VOLUME — Fitness goals via a welcoming environment is the mission

Local

Jury sentences Port Arthur man week after he was found guilty in Beaumont killing

Local

Port Arthur Police say arrests coming following shooting of 16-year-old local girl

Local

National Weather Service outlines heavy rain concern for Southeast Texas

Local

Willie Mae Elmore, former Port Arthur ISD trustee, nurse educator, dies at 74

High School Sports

Port Neches-Groves’ Morgan Campbell setting school record pace en route to regionals