Though it’s January, the Orange County Democratic Party is already gearing up for the 2012 election year.

The party held a meet and greet with local candidates running for office Saturday night at the VFW Hall in Orange. Chairman Mark Carter said a committee was formed at the Democrats monthly meeting to organize the meet and greet event. Co-charis Carol Edwards and Debra Mitchell were instrumental in organizing the event.

“It gets the candidates out there and puts a face on the ballot and people have time to visit with them in a casual atmosphere,” Carter said. “All of us have a voice in government. We have these fine candidates here.”

Candidates at the meet and greet included Lynn T. Arceneaux who is running for Pct. 2 Constable, Michael Abbott who is running for County Court at Law judge, Addie D. Allen who is running for U.S. Senate, John Dubose who is running for reelection as Pct. 3 Commissioner, James Stringer who is running for Pct. 1 Commissioner and Sarah Jefferson-Simon who is running for Pct. 1 Constable. Several elected officials attended the event as well.

Arceneaux said he has always wanted to be a constable.

“I retired two years ago and it would be great to serve Pct. 2 and Orange County,” Arceneaux said. “I’ve spent 20 years in the Orange Police Department, two-and-a-half years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and seven-and-a-half years with the Vidor Police Department.”

Abbott currently serves as a Vidor Municipal Court judge. He’s been on that bench since 2007.

“I’ve discovered I really enjoy being a mediator and being a judge,” Abbott said. It’s a way to give back to the community. I’ve practiced at that court (County Court at Law) for a number of years. I have extensive experience in that area of law. I think I have the temperament.”

Allen said she tossed her hat into the ring for the U.S. Senate because, “The needs of the people should always come first. I plan to represent Texas as an advocate for the voices too often ignored by candidates once they get into office. Your vote for my candidacy is critical to ensuring that all Texans have a voice,” she said.

Dubose said the county has a number of projects to complete he would like to see come to fruition.

“Because of Hurricane Ike, we’re building three major buildings — Judge (Janice) Menard has moved into the Precinct 3 JP building, adult probation and the shelter of last resort are being built. We received funding for them from insurance, FEMA and other grant funds with no borrowed money. I would like to see them finished.”

Other projects Dubose would like to complete is a Texas Parks and Wildlife project in Bridge City and replacing the swing bridge on East Roundbunch Road. He added he would love to see the Loop 299 project, or Vidor Loop, be built as long as Orange County doesn’t have to pay for it.”

Stringer rhetorically asked the audience if they wanted the Tea Party to take over the county.
He believes Republicans would cut many services because they believe in smaller government.
“I hope to God we can beat them,” Stringer said.

Jefferson-Simon, an Orange Police officer, said she has been a Democrat all her life and she would never “jump the fence” to join another party.

Allen Daniel, a Top Teen of America, a part of the Youth of Tomorrow Democratic Party organization, gave a speech at the meet and greet.

He said the organization does volunteer work in the community and sets an example for young people.

Daniel said his speech expressed the values of the Democratic Party and what they stand for.
He began his speech by referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream,” and how President Ronald Reagan made a holiday for MLK in 1985.

Daniel said Democrats stand for Tolerance, justice and freedom, family, freedom and fairness.

He next spoke on inalienable rights that can’t be taken away such as civil rights and equal opportunity for all, access to education and health care, a job with dignity, a safe home, clean air and water, a living wage, fair business practices, taxes fairly distributed and secure retirements and pensions.

Carter believes Orange County residents have prospered over the years under Democratic elected officials

“We’re all middle class. We will support Democrats in Orange County because Democrat elected officials support our values. We support life from the cradle to the grave,” he said.