One Orange candidate is seeking to turn the 36th Congressional District of Texas blue in 2014 as the Democratic Party seeks to do so statewide.

Michael Cole officially announced his candidacy for Congress on Saturday, October 19 on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse. The current incumbent is U.S. Rep. (R-Texas) Steve Stockman.

This will be the second time for Cole to run for Congress after running in 2012 as a Libertarian Party candidate.

In his announcement speech, Cole said he wants to see the United States become a stronger nation and a better nation.

“In this district, over 127,000 Southeast Texans live below the poverty line; that is one in six. Of that number, 43,000 are children. That is an unacceptable level and our current representation has no interest in changing that,” he said.

Cole added, “The area needs good paying, long-term jobs. Southeast Texans do not want a hand out, they want a hand-up. They are willing to blaze their own path but need the opportunities and the education to do so. We want opportunities, not excuses, and certainly not the old politics of blame. It is time for new leadership in Washington.”

Cole said some of his goals is to put partisan bickering in Congress behind and to rebuild the economy of Southeast Texas through better infrastructure- ports, railroads, roads and bridges and expanded internet access.

“When we come together, there’s no hardship we can’t overcome,” he said.

Cole also wants to build or rebuild protective levees and barriers for any possible future hurricanes.

“It’s not about insurance after the fact, but assurance before the fact,” Cole said.

He further added that nothing is being done to prevent damage or devastation that another storm could bring.

“Orange, Chambers and Harris Counties could face billions of dollars in cleanup costs if another storm hits. That can be avoided by taking precautions now, not waiting until after the fact.”

He also spoke on keeping the promise of Social Security to enrollees, overseeing and auditing the Federal Reserve System and a sunset provision to review the effectiveness of federal laws.

Cole next spoke on the recent government shutdown.

He believes Congressional Republicans risked the nation’s economy because they could do so. He added he sees his campaign as a call to action.

“I want to represent all of the people so all voices are heard. This will not be an easy journey (the campaign),” Cole  said.

Cole concluded his speech by saying Southeast Texas is a community built on being compassionate toward each other.

Cole has been a resident of Orange since 1981. He was born in Tacoma, Washington and grew up in Ft. Lewis, Washington, and Indianapolis, Indiana before moving to Texas.

He’s a 1994 West Orange-Stark graduate and he teaches at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School where he also coaches JV soccer.

He has been married to his wife, Franchesca, for 12 years.

Cole said he has a passion for history and science. He either wanted to write books or teach, so he decided to teach.

He also wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy but he was prevented from doing so for health reasons.

Though he couldn’t become a naval officer, Cole said he still wants to serve the public.

As a student of history, Cole said some Congresses have been effective such as the 84th Congress that passed the Civil Rights Act.

“They can pass good laws or they can be what we have now,” he said.

Cole wants to run an issues-oriented campaign and not resort to mudslinging.

He said he has the support of labor unions, some local attorneys and grass root supporters making small donations. According to Cole, he’ll soon need to start filing with the Federal Election Commission because he’s been receiving so many donations while Stockman received most of his funds for his last campaign from political action committees outside the area.

Cole spoke on some issues Congress  currently dealt or is dealing with such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and immigration reform.

Cole said though the ACA is “stumbling a bit” registering users, Social Security also had a slow start when it was implemented and now works fine.

“The Republican Party is afraid it (Obamacare) will succeed. “If they (Republicans) were concerned about health care, they would offer their own suggestions rather than repeal and replace,” he said.

On immigration, Cole said his great-grandparents came to America from Germany, worked hard and were good citizens.

“People just need an avenue to do it,” Cole said. “If you want reform, why doesn’t anyone talk about criminal penalties for corporations hiring them?”

Speaking overall for the state Democratic Party, Cole thinks 2014 is their race to lose because Repbulicans have so much to answer for after the federal government shutdown.

“The 36th (District) is not a safe Republican district; but it’s a non-voting public district. Half the district in Houston has a large Hispanic population, though. Stockman needs to know he’s running for the people, not against Barack Obama. I’m geared for running for the people of District 36 and not supporting a radical Republican agenda.

“When one is elected, they cease being a Democrat or a Republican. I’ll be an advocate and I will listen to the people. You can’t do that by playing partisan politics,” Cole said.

Orange resident and LC-MHS teacher Michael Cole announced he will run for Congress as a Democrat on Saturday, October 19, at the Orange County Courthouse. The current incumbent is U.S. Rep. (R-Texas) Steve Stockman. RECORD PHOTO:David Ball