A Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation director is outraged that an upcoming Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Luncheon has been booked in Beaumont.
That's because the luncheon speakers are candidates in the May Port Arthur City Council Election. Roosevelt Petry Jr. says he firmly believes that a candidate forum should be held in the city where elections are being held.
But, the Chamber president, Bill McCoy, says the luncheon is not a forum but a introduction of the candidates and why they should be voted to the position. McCoy says each candidate will have five minutes to speak about themselves, they can't bash other candidates, and that it's not a debate.
McCoy says the buildings in Port Arthur that the Chamber looked to book were either already booked or too costly; forcing a change of venue to Beaumont.
"It's ludicrous and I emphasize ludicrous. It's insulting," says Petry, "I've never heard of Beaumont holding a race in Port Arthur or in Nederland. You hold your forums in the city where the race is going to be held. It just doesn't make any sense to me at all."
Trying to make sense of the situation is Chamber president, Bill McCoy. He says the April 23rd Meet the Candidates luncheon will be held at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont which is a Chamber member.
"My normal places in Port Arthur, of the size we need and our price range that we need, are all booked," says McCoy.
"They didn't have a place to do it? I'm not buying it. We could have had it at the Carl Parker Center, Library or Council Chambers," says Petry.
The Chamber said it tried those locations. The Chamber often holds its luncheons at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza. McCoy says it's booked on April 23rd. He says the Carl Parker Center is too big and that they would have to pay for catering. He says it's the same scenario for the Bob Bowers Civic Center. The Chamber then chose the Elegante.
"Our goal is to create programs and networking opportunities that will help our members do business. So, we're gonna do some business with the Elegante," says McCoy.
"I'm not buying this because they're a member. They're a member because they want to make money out of Port Arthur. We're the one's that are voting. You introduce yourself in our city," says Petry.
Petry says he offered to also hold the luncheon outside.
"Jesus used to meet outside. Jesus had thousands of people outside talking to them. Maybe we should have it outside and it's free," says Petry.
"We schedule 10 events a year. Nine of them will be in Port Arthur. This one will be at a member that's outside of Port Arthur," says McCoy.
Petry says the EDC uses taxpayer dollars and that he doesn't think taxpayer dollars should go to another city. He says if he decides to go to the luncheon, he will use his personal money.
McCoy welcomes everyone to the public luncheon. You can call the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce to reserve a spot. Tickets are $25 each.
McCoy says all candidates have agreed to speak at the luncheon.