Port Arthur race for mayor underway
For a related story on the District 4 City Council race, click the link below:
Port Arthur residents will have the opportunity to make their choice for mayor in the May 11 election that will pit incumbent Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince against two challengers. Prince has served two terms and has been mayor since 2006. Prince, 68, is originally from Louisiana but, at the age of 11, moved to Port Arthur where she graduated from Lincoln High School. During her terms as mayor, Prince said that she has accomplished many things.
“I’ve been part of the renovations of streets and infrastructure,” Prince said. “We’ve repaired a lot of streets. We’ve started the renovation of downtown. We have the Gulf Coast Clinic coming up on the west side that I definitely had a part of securing the funds for. I went to Washington and lobbied for that money.”
Prince said that she hopes that people will vote for her because they know where her heart is.
“They know that I love the city of Port Arthur, and I’ve tried to work to show them that,” she said. “I want to see it improve. We’ve done a lot of improvements to the city of Port Arthur in the last six years, but other parts of the city also need attention. We need to look for more funding that will not be a burden to tax payers.”
Prince said that she would like to convey a message to voters who may be trying to decide who to vote for this election.
“I would ask you to examine my six years as mayor and see how I’ve responded to the people and the city,” she said. “I’ve tried to meet the needs of the citizens of Port Arthur. I have been able to meet the emotional needs of people. You will see that I have done it out of love.”
The future of Port Arthur looks bright under Prince’s leadership, she said.
“We’re rebuilding our city, and we’re going to continue to work on improving it,” she said. “I want to be a part of that process. Port Arthur is a beautiful, wonderful city to live in.”
Meet the challengers
Hometown: Port Arthur
Background: Doucet served 30 years in the Army (including tours during Vietnam), retiring as a command sergeant major. As a Precinct 4 Councilmember, he’s served six years on the construction demolition board for the city of Port Arthur.
Issues that need to be addressed: Unemployment, infrastructure
“The main problem we are faced with in Port Arthur is unemployment,” he said. “This is a problem that has not been addressed,” Doucet said. He believes the answer to this problem is training job seekers in the areas that are most marketable to the industry through vocational programs at Memorial High School and Lamar State College – Port Arthur.
“This is an industrial city,” he said. “In order to fill these particular jobs, you have to have certain skill sets. You have to have training programs. If the people are unemployed, it’s obvious that they do not have money for the training, but the city has to find ways to identify the skill sets that are in demand and train and certify people to fit these positions.”
Doucet said that as mayor, he would suggest that the city implement programs and partnerships with companies in Port Arthur. “If we partner with them and train in these different jobs, (companies) will hire people that have been part of this training program because they know the quality of employee that they are going to get,” he said.
Other issues that need to be addressed are the condition of the streets, and water and sewer systems, Doucet said.
“About 58 percent of the water we treat is wasted — just going into the ground,” he said. “You have to identify the leaks and make the area where you have a concentration of the leaks the first priority. You have to start replacing water lines there and then start moving to other areas.”
Doucet said that his principle of addressing the area with a majority of the problems first and then moving to other areas could be used to tackle other infrastructure issues, as well.
Interesting tidbit: While most people might see his serious demeanor during council meetings, Doucet said he has an incredible sense of humor.
Why you should vote for him: Doucet said he believes that he has a proven record on the council and his military background will help him lead and unify the council as a strong, organized team primarily concerned with the interests of the residents of Port Arthur. “As a sergeant major, I was responsible for enforcing the standards and procedures for my unit,” Doucet said. “I was responsible for personnel management, operations within the unit and the health and welfare of soldiers and their families.” Doucet said holding people accountable for their actions and understanding how to get people to work together are qualities that he would bring as mayor. “As elected officials, we serve the citizens,” he said. “The citizens pay for these services so we must deliver these services. We don’t have a choice.”
Doucet also said that his military background and leadership skills would help him deal with heated arguments that might arise during council meetings. “Anything contrary to good order won’t be accepted,” he said. If a councilmember gets out of hand or off topic, Doucet said he would call for a recess and talk to the person privately to get the situation under control. He said that it is important to take charge during a disruptive situation rather than to walk out of a meeting. “How you handle a situation tells a lot about your leadership,” he said. “This council can function as a team and work together even if (the members) don’t like one another.”
Hometown: Port Arthur
Education: She has an associate degree in criminal justice and is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in environmental science (University of Phoenix).
Background: Reado-Harrison has worked in the environmental science industry for more than 16 years with Louisiana-Pacific as plant environmental manager and with Ameripole-Synpole (currently Ashland) as an environmental specialist. She was a second lieutenant heavy artillery specialist in the United States Army for five years during the Persian Gulf War. She was not allowed to participate in combat because of her gender, but served by maintaining supply stocks.
Issues that need to be addressed: Unemployment, public works system, infrastructure, crime, unity within the council
“If we attack the unemployment issue, it will have a domino effect on every other issue we have — it’s the key,” Reado-Harrison said. “Too many people are employed here that don’t live here. We need to work on abatements and getting our people to work. If they are not trained, we need to offer training and give them every opportunity to work locally.”
Reado-Harrison said the public works system also needs to improve. “The city of Port Arthur is already on probation for the water quality system — the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) sanctioned them.
“I have approached the City of Port Arthur since 2007 — last time was 2013— to become their environmental specialist and to no avail has that occurred. I’ve given them all the information I could so that they can get (the system fixed), but nothing still has been done. Now it is in the state’s hands.”
Reado-Harrison said that the state is now forcing the city to fix its water quality system. “After it’s done, we have to stay on top of it,” she said.
She also said that other areas including the public waste system and landfill needed to be looked at. “They have permits,” she said. “I can review the permits and by speaking to TCEQ, I can see what the guidelines are and help them to maintain those guidelines so they won’t have to get fined or go through probationary periods.”
Reado-Harrison pointed to crime as a reason for Port Arthur’s inability to grow.
“You know the crime rate is too high because people are not coming into the area,” she said. “You’re not getting any businesses or residential districts going up, but we’ve got low-income housing going up. That’s not what we need. We’re mandated as a low-income city and that shouldn’t be with all the industry here. The system is broken.”
Unity within the council also needs to be addressed, she said.
“Any issues we have need to be worked out privately,” Reado-Harrison said. “(The council) is too argumentative in front of the public.”
As an example, she referred to a confrontation between Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince and Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis Jr. at a Feb. 5 council meeting.
“Mr. Lewis had a question about travel and they kept putting him off about it,” she said. “Granted he may have been correct about what he was saying, but the way he corrected it wasn’t the right approach. He attacked the mayor. It shouldn’t have been publicly displayed. It should have been hashed out privately. It looked terrible.”
Reado-Harrison said the display of disaccord might have damaged the reputation of the council with the public. “What does the public perceive? This is a council that we cannot depend on. They can’t even work with each other,” she said.
Interesting tidbit: Reado-Harrison said she loves to preach at her church, Church of the Living God, at 5770 Concord in Beaumont, and sing gospel.
Why you should vote for her: Reado-Harrison said that given her military service as an officer in the Army and her many years of experience as a plant manager, she believes she has the leadership skills that will help her excel as mayor. Her background in environmental science also brings a green-friendly perspective unique to the mayoral race, she said. Her managerial experience, according to Reado-Harrison, will also enable her to better handle out-of-control situations during council meetings.
Reado-Harrison said that she is not only an environmental specialist, but a minister as well. “I am an ordained minister and not a politician,” she said. “These are God’s people, and they are led in the wrong direction. They need to be led in the right direction. Politics got us into this mess, but it won’t get us out. It’s going to take Christianity to get us out.”
According to Reado-Harrison, Mayor Prince does not have the ability to bring the council together. “By not having the ability to bring together the council, you are showing your inability to take care of the city,” she said. “I don’t see this mayor pushing people to do their jobs.”