Dave Rogers

For The Record

As an outreach minister, Bishop Charles Thomas is no stranger to helping others. He has long traveled the roads to hospitals, nursing homes and prisons “to reach the lost at any cost.”

But Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath convinced Thomas it’s time to focus on his hometown.

The Associate Pastor from Orange’s Sixth Street Community Church says that’s why he signed up to run for Mayor for the City of Orange.

Thomas will run against two-term city council member Larry Spears, Jr., in the mayor’s race on Election Day May 5, when most city and school districts look to update their leadership lists.

“That storm made me look at Orange and made me look at things differently,” said Thomas, who operates a U-Haul rental truck and trailer business.

“When the hurricane hit, we went and started bringing supplies in. By me having a U-Haul facility, I was able to go different places, bring back loads of food, loads of Purex [bleach], things people needed.

“Our church played a big role. People [outsiders] had stuff, they came to the church and we got it to the people in need.

“My nephew, Little Earl [NFL All-Pro Earl Thomas III], he sent in trucks of supplies. My brother, Earl Jr., he went out and helped people get their homes together.

“We did that all over Orange, and that right there made me want to be able to help the people in Orange.

“I’m just a guy who wants to make a difference.”

Anthony Thomas, “my baby brother,” Charles says, pastors the Orange church built by their father, Earl Thomas Sr., while as a bishop “I can start churches and ministries anywhere God sends me to do it.

“But hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, those are my ministries, where people have no one to minister to them.”

Thomas said his local concerns begin with rebuilding from the storm, re-establishing a hospital in the community and bringing jobs.

“We all came up under a father who instilled that working ethic into us,” Charles Thomas said. “Also pastoring.

“I’m out there for the people. I want to take Orange forward, not backward; that’s what we’re working to do.

“If it’s God’s will for me to get in the seat, so be it.”

Besides the mayor’s race in Orange, incumbent Pat Pullen seeks re-election in District 1 while Paul Burch has filed for a special election – also on the May 5 ballot – to fill the final two years left on Spears’ term in at-large Position 6.

The Orange mayor’s seat, left open by Jimmy Sims’ decision not to seek re-election, is the only one seeing change this year.

Both David Rutledge of Bridge City and Pete Runnels of Pinehurst are running unopposed for re-election.

Last Friday was the filing deadline. Early voting runs from April 23 through May 1.

Candidates for local spring elections are:

City of Orange

Mayor: Larry Spears Jr.; Charles Ray Thomas

District 1: Pat Pullen (I)

At-Large Position 6: Paul Burch

City of Bridge City

Mayor: David Rutledge (I)

Place 2: Kirk Roccaforte (I)

Place 4: Eric Andrus (I)

Place 6: Lucy Fields (I); Joseph Hannan

City of Pinehurst

Mayor: Pete Runnels (I)

2 At-Large position: John Zerko (I); Cynthia Adams (I)

City of West Orange

3 At-Large: Shirley Bonnin (I); Dale Dardeau (I); Mike Shugart (I)

Bridge City ISD

Place 1: Patty Collins; Paul Zoch

Place 2: Judy Cole (I)

Little Cypress Mauriceville CISD

Position 4: Tammy Rountree (I)

Position 5: Aubrey Milstead (I)

West Orange-Cove CISD

2 At-Large: Roderick Robertson (I); Kianna Edwards Brooks; Tricia Stroud.

Orange County Port Commission

Precinct 1: Keith Wallace (I); Dr. Travis Miller

Precinct 4: John Young (I)

Orange County Drainage District

Precinct 1: Kenneth Pigg (I)

Precinct 4: Hal LaPray (I)

At-Large: Brent Peveto (I)