Calhoun Port Authority Board Chairman Randy Boyd has election challengers for the first time in more than a decade.

Paul Lauterbach, 63, and Luis De La Garza, 59, are vying to represent Boyd’s District 4.

It is an estimated 19-square-mile area loosely bound by Farm-to-Market Road 3084 to the west, Lavaca Bay to the east, Schlebach Road to the north and SH 35 to the south.

Boyd last had a challenger in 2007, when he won by 44 votes.

Boyd’s name is one Calhoun County residents know well.

Last year, it was Boyd’s idea to hire former U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold as the port’s first full-time lobbyist.

This came after Farenthold tried helping Boyd and his company, RLB Contracting Inc., circumvent the federal procurement process and after Farenthold angered his constituents by using $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Farenthold never paid that money back as promised. Instead, the port paid him more than $100,000 from his hiring May 9 as its lobbyist until his resignation Jan. 4.

Lauterbach and Garza expressed a desire to root out corruption.

Lauterback said, “It’s like a cancer. Once you let it in, you’ve got to clear it out immediately or it just grows and grows and grows.”

Both men are retired, Lauterback as an environmental engineer and De La Garza from STP Nuclear Operating Company.

When asked what they’d bring to the board, Lauterback touted his law degree while De La Garza talked up his experience managing large budgets and rental property.

They expressed a desire to improve the port and the Matagorda Ship Channel upon which it relies.

Lauterbach was concerned they’d split the vote, increasing Boyd’s odds of winning, but De La Garza wasn’t.

“I’m sure voters will select the best candidate,” De La Garza said.

Port Director Charles Hausmann did not answer the question about whether the winning candidate is required to earn 50 percent of the vote plus 1 or just the majority of the votes cast.

“But I think the main thing is for people to vote,” Lauterbach said. “There’s been very low voter turnout in the past, and I’m convinced that if the public votes and not just the people who are being influenced by Randy Boyd, we’ll be sure to get an ethical board.”

Boyd could not be reached for comment.

District 2 Board Member Dell Weathersby and District 3 Board Member J.C. Melcher Jr. are also up for re-election, but Melcher was the only one who had filed as of Monday.

Melcher, who declined to comment, did not attend the May 9 meeting in which the board hired Farenthold and voted May 24 to fire the former congressman. Weathersby attended the May 9 meeting and voted May 24 to retain him.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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