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MARY MEAUX — Passing the torch to the younger generation

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone comment about people being in a political office for way too long and that it’s time to bring in some fresh blood.

And I’ve heard some of the older generation say it’s time to pass the torch and for the younger generation to serve.

This is happening as we speak right here in our area and it has been going on for a few years.

Some of the movement to leadership roles came from members of the first graduating class of Memorial High School.

Brandon Bartie was in his late 20s when he ran for school board the first time around. He became the youngest person to hold the title of trustee for Port Arthur Independent School District. He was elected to his third term last week.

“We often hear our elders say we need the younger generation to step up and be the future of the city,” Bartie said.

Bartie’s father, Thurman Bartie, is mayor of the city of Port Arthur.

Brandon Bartie’s 2003 graduating classmate, Christopher Bates, is also a history-making individual and one who stepped up to serve at a young age. He was 27 when elected as Precinct 2 Jefferson County Constable in the November 2012 election.

Bates became the second youngest constable in the history of Texas, the youngest elected to office in Jefferson County and the first African American constable for Precinct 2.

The Rev. Kalan Gardner, also a friend of Bartie and Bates and a member of the MHS class of 2003, set his sights on serving at a young age, as well. Besides being a pastor at First Sixth Street Baptist Church on the historic West Side of the city, he is also the youngest president of the local NAACP branch.

There’s educator Dr. Kristi Lewis, also a 2003 MHS graduate, who is an assistant principal at Woodrow Wilson Early College High School in Port Arthur ISD. She also has earned many accolades, including being named to the Class of 2019 40 Under 40 by the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce.

Taylor Getwood is the next to join the list of young individuals jumping in to serve. A member of the 2020 MHS graduating class, the 18-year-old Getwood is now the youngest trustee to serve in PAISD. He’s banking on his recent experience as a student in the district for giving him insight into today’s students and teachers.

Getwood is a student at Texas Southern University, which he attends virtually. He is majoring in communications with a minor in political science.

Though this is the first political office he’s held, he has served on the superintendent’s advisory board at Memorial High School, worked with city officials and worked alongside the local NAACP chapter, served as CEO/teen mentor for the Port Arthur MLK youth organization and volunteered with other organizations.

The torch is being passed.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter with Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.