LA MARQUE — The candidates in a runoff election for La Marque City Council District B seat said they are hoping to keep their campaigns focused on the city’s needs and to steer away from recent allegations of racism in city government.
District B incumbent James Osteen is facing Chris Lane in the runoff on June 21.
In May, Osteen took 42 percent of the vote to Lane’s 38 percent. Deannea Bethea, also running for the seat, took 20 percent.
Osteen said he hopes voters will look at his record on the council and his work on the city budget.
Lane said he is focusing on issues such as public safety and city infrastructure. He said he hopes to bring different organizations together to make the city better.
Both said they are attempting to steer clear of allegations of racist remarks brought against Councilwoman Connie Trube and Chris Colombo, who resigned as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board.
The allegations surfaced when the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas turned over sworn affidavits and audio recordings from Deanna Bethea and her husband, James Bethea, to the U.S. attorney.
The recordings include people making a joke about the Ku Klux Klan and Trube talking about La Marque school board member Annie Burton.
Trube was censured for her comments about African-American members of the school board.
The council hired a law firm to investigate accusations that Trube said she wanted to close the public library because only African-Americans use it.
Trube has said she is not a racist and denied making comments about the library.
She said she does not plan to step down.
Osteen, who voted to censure Trube, said he would wait until the Olson & Olson investigation was complete before commenting on whether Trube should resign.
“I always like to let an investigation be completed before you make any decisions,” he said.
Lane said he had an opinion on whether Trube should step down but declined to give it when asked.
“I know Ms. Trube personally and I hope she’d do what is best for the city,” he said.
Another of the allegations claimed that Colombo used a racial slur and predicted that Lane would not win the election because his picture is on his campaign flier, allowing voters to see that he is African-American.
Lane said he could not control the comments made by others and would focus on his campaign.
“The comment that was made isn’t going to make La Marque a better city,” he said.
Instead, Lane said he was focusing on finding solutions to problems with the city’s aging infrastructure and vacant home problems. He said he wants to find ways to work with the school district, nonprofits, the faith-based community, residents and businesses to face the city’s problems.
“We’re focusing (on) issues that are not black and white,” Lane said. “Pot holes aren’t black and white. Our infrastructure isn’t black and white. Our crime rate in the city isn’t black and white.”
Osteen said he was staying out of the controversy over the alleged racist remarks and was focusing on his record.
The alleged statements and recordings were made in the City Hall parking lot during the early voting period and on election day in May by supporters of Osteen, according to the Betheas’ affidavits.
Osteen said he never heard any racist comments while he was campaigning in the parking lot. Osteen said he would have walked away from any conversations involving racial remarks.
Osteen served on the council from 1995 to 2006 and was again elected to the council in 2011.
“I keep up with the budget, try to keep up with the ordinances and take care of people’s problems whenever they call me,” Osteen said.
At a glance
WHAT: La Marque City Council District B runoff election
WHEN: Early voting hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; election day is Saturday
WHERE: La Marque City Hall, Community Room, 1109-B Bayou Road, in La Marque