The Examiner’s Endorsements for Municipal Elections May 9

Examiner's endorsed candidates

Municipal elections will be held in cities and towns throughout Southeast Texas on May 9, 2015. These elections are non-partisan, which is as it should be. There is no such thing as a Democratic water main or a Republican pothole. At this basic level, we want government to work above all else – police and fire protection to keep us safe; clean water and a safe food supply, roads, streets and bridges that get us from one place to another. That is what is at stake here – quality of life, careful stewardship of our tax dollars, and enough civic pride to hold us together. Here are the candidates who pledge  to deliver on the promise of communities that work.

In Beaumont, voters will decide who will be the next mayor and who will represent them as the City Council.

Becky Ames is the clear choice for another term as mayor. Her long record of service in the mayor’s office and before on City Council is one of fairness, decency, good character and a genuine love for Beaumont.

She has repeatedly demonstrated that she can unite Beaumont citizens to make common cause the improvement of our city.

Her opponents Christopher “Unc” Jones and Jude Paredez may seem unlikely if you were to meet these unqualified candidates, yet not a single person that cares about Beaumont, our property values and security should take for granted that Ames will win without your vote.

Yes, if everyone gets off the couch and votes, she will likely win by double digits, as she should, but voter apathy got us the Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees that raped and pillaged the resources of our district and did untold harm to our children before they were ousted. Voter apathy is responsible as much as the perpetrators. Remember, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing. With memories of BISD misdeeds still fresh in our minds, we must support those candidates with a proven record of responsible leadership. Fortunately, there are candidates of strength and virtue on the ballot. All we have to do is support them.


The at-large council race includes two positions. The top two vote-getters will be elected. Voters are fortunate because the three candidates include two veteran incumbents who have served our community well. They are very different public officials whose love for our city is unquestioned, and they bring very different skills to the job.

Gethrel “Get” Williams-Wright retired from the U.S. Post Office after 33 years and was a Postal Workers Union official. W.L. Pate heads an executive search firm. Both have served on City Council since 2007. As At-Large members, they represent the entire city, and both are tireless workers for the residents of Beaumont. Get and W.L. don’t have to introduce themselves to voters at election time. You know them, and they have earned re-election May 9. Vote for both Gethrel “Get” Williams-Wright and W.L. Pate.


 Ward 1 incumbent Alan Coleman has shown by his actions that he believes a photo op with Michelle Obama in Washington at Beaumont taxpayer expense is more important than the potholes in his ward. His initiative to change the unhealthy eating habits of people in Beaumont is an overreach at best for a city councilman. Mr. Coleman, we don’t believe anyone elected you to office so you could buzz around on taxpayer-funded trips to Washington. Instead, we believe you were elected to speak against the atrocities of the previous management of our school district. We think voters expected you to engage with the Texas Education Agency in Austin and the Governor’s Office to try and expedite change at an already bankrupt school district, but there is no evidence you have done anything. We believe they elected you to promote a business-friendly Beaumont instead of working to close down Starvin’ Marvin’s and, in the process, cost the city tens of thousands in legal fees in a misguided attempt to reward friends and punish perceived enemies. Ward 1 residents elected you to address the blight that plagues the intersection of 11th Street and I-10, one of the main Beaumont exits for visitors.

Alan Coleman is not “entitled to another term.” Beaumont is about full up of his entitlement mentality.

Claude Guidroz is an honest man that feels he owes a debt to Beaumont because our city was home to his successful business. Unlike his opponent, he doesn’t want anything from his constituents; Guidroz believes after running a successful business enterprise and now retiring that he should give back, and The Examiner believes he is the right man for the job. As with most city elections, the incumbents see low voter turnout as their recipe for maintaining the status quo. It is past time to derail Coleman. If you want to shake things up a little, if you want a man that will stand on principle regardless of its popularity, vote for Guidroz. The Examiner fully endorses Claude Guidroz for Ward 1. It is time for a change.


Melanie Fontenot Smith, a candidate for Ward 4, is the choice as an honest, hardworking representative for the residents of her ward. In contrast, the surprise candidacy of ousted Beaumont ISD Board President Gwen Ambres is going nowhere. 

And Robin Mouton is a decent person, but after recently losing her job as a radio sales consultant, many are asking if she can deal with the city business at hand while her personal career is in a downturn.

Voters need to keep in mind during this race not just why Ambres would run for another office so soon after being ousted from the last, but also if their vote will contribute to a dysfunctional City Council. And with three candidates running in this race, 50 percent plus one vote must go to one candidate or a runoff election will be necessary. Every vote counts.

The Examiner fully and unconditionally endorses Melanie Smith as councilwoman for Ward 4.

Other area races:

City of Port Arthur

City Council District 5: The Examiner endorses Keith Richard. This is only one seat on council but an important seat because of the antics of Willie Bae Lewis Jr. The Port Arthur City Council is more of a circus act much of the time, and Lewis makes it hard for anyone to take them seriously. A vote for Keith Richard is a vote for change, and Port Arthur needs this change.

City of Orange

The City of Orange has three candidates vying for the mayor’s seat, and The Examiner endorses incumbent Jimmy Sims. He’s a man of good character, integrity and a love for Orange, yet we encourage him to step up in his leadership as mayor in that Orange is truly at a crossroads; as the preacher says, one can move forward or go backwards but cannot stand still. The Examiner believes Sims is the man most capable to lead Orange into the future.

City of Vidor

In the Vidor city election, The Examiner endorses Robert Viator Jr. for mayor; and Michael Stephenson for councilman, Ward 4.

Cities of Lumberton, Sour Lake

In the City of Lumberton and Sour Lake elections, all candidates up for election are unopposed.

Early Voting for the Joint, General, and Special Election is going on now but ends Tuesday, May 5.