God, family members and voters were all the big winners and thanked tremendously Tuesday morning when the Port Arthur City Council welcomed two new members to its chambers while welcoming back two incumbents.
In one of the larger City Council races in recent memory, 24 candidates competed for the six open City Council positions, and the four winners were honored with the swearing in by Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince in a ceremony held at the Council Chambers in City Hall and was followed up with a reception.
“I’m ready to go to work and I’m ready to bring unity here,” said newly elected Raymond Scott Jr., who beat out incumbent Jack Chatman Jr. for the District 1 spot in what some local observers viewed as a mild upset.
Chatman, who served 4 years on the council, said he was proud to have served on the City Council and serve the citizens of Port Arthur. He said he plans to continue serving the community and would like to stay on the Downtown Renaissance Board. As for whether he’ll seek another term in three years, he said “If God says so.”
Scott said he plans to stress “leadership and encourage unity” to his constituents. He also plans on holding neighborhood meetings in his district to get in touch with his base, so they can voice their concerns to him, and he can in-turn take those concerns to the Council and get them addressed.
“I want to bring people together,” Scott said.
Kerry Thomas, who spent nine years as a board member of the Port Arthur Economic Development Council, knocked out 17-year Council veteran Thomas Henderson in this year’s election in Position 8 after losing by one vote to Henderson three years ago.
Thomas said he knows he has big shoes to fill but wants his constituents to know that the transition from Henderson to Thomas will be seamless.
“(Henderson) did great work, but I’ve talked to him, he and I are good friends, and I’m aware of the challenges that face Port Arthur and I know some of the things he was working on, demolition of houses and drainage, and those are the same things I’m going to work to improve.
Henderson, who turns 84 in two weeks, said he’s not going to slow down.
“I can’t sit down, because then my wife could add things to her ‘honey-do’ list,” he said with a chuckle. He said he will take some time off, spend time with his wife and then get back to helping the city of Port Arthur.
In Districts 2 and 3, Liz Segler and Morris Albright, respectively, were both re-elected to their second terms.
District 4 and Position 7 seats have not been selected yet as both races are heading to a runoff that will be held June 25.
School Board Swearing-In
Newly-elected Thomas Kinlaw III and incumbent Kenneth Lofton were both sworn in Monday evening as Port Arthur Independent School District trustees. Kinlaw, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s Council swearing in.
He’s aware of the challenges that lie ahead for the district, and even suggested teacher layoffs are a real possibility. He also cited improving the district’s TAKS test score as an objective.
“There’s no way around it,” he said of the possible laying off teachers given the district’s financial standing facing probable budget cuts and $14 million owed to Valero. “But we’re going to have to find a program or curriculum that works in the best interest of the students, even with possible teacher layoffs, what are we going to do to compensate for that? Will we have to take administrators and move them back to the classroom? I would entertain something like that.”
“Change is needed in this district and in the city, and the voting is evidence of that,” Kinlaw said.