All posts by Myra Griffin -Managing Editor

Managing Editor and Staff Writer for the Houston Sun. Texas Southern University Graduate B.A. Communication/Print Journalism B.A. English 5 years at Houston Sun

MLK, Jr. statue donors, Ovide Duncantell receives ‘roses’

Ms. Randle and Ovide Duncantell after the Donors Ceremony
Ms. Randle and Ovide Duncantell after the Donors Ceremony

The Black Heritage Society hosted an official unveiling of donors and supporters at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue in Mac Gregor Park on Saturday, November 22, 2014. Although it was a way to acknowledge supporters, Ovide Duncantell was the star of the show and received his flowers while he can smell them.

Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D, served as Master of Ceremony for the occasion. He is known for his praise of Duncantell and also told of his long history with him and his influence over his life. DeWayne Lark, President of the Harris County Council of Organizations also offered words in the same manner.

Ovide Duncantell
Ovide Duncantell

“Ovide Duncantell is selfless. This is about the friends that made this happen, but for me it is about a visionary and the fact of how many other visionaries are here inspiring,” said Lark.

Elected officials such as Constable May Walker, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Rep. Harold Dutton and State Rep. Ron Reynolds came out to give their gratitude to Duncantell for his leadership over the years.

Affectionately called a “Rebel Rouser”, Duncantell’s reputation for fighting for people of color earned him many praises and also led to the MLK statue in which everyone gathered at in the rain to celebrate.

“It is a distinct honor to have a token of appreciation,” said State Representative Ron Reynolds. “Thank you for being a trailblazer and being consistent over the years, you have sacrificed your time and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you and the Black Heritage Society. It’s important to give you your flowers while you’re alive.”

His appreciation and thanks were given to Duncantell with a flag flown over the State Capitol on November 19th.

Duncantell was cited as the reason why many people began their political careers while paving the way for them. He planted the seed in them to become political, he was their inspiration.

Minister Robert Muhammad who also worked along Duncantell on the MLK statue had words of wisdom for the community about how elders are treated.

Minister Robert Muhammad
Minister Robert Muhammad

“This is Mr. Ovide Duncatell’s dream to have this statue, my job as an elder in training is to make sure that one of our elder’s dreams get fulfilled in his lifetime,” said Muhammad. “I get tired of passing around the bucket and the basket to bury our elders or to buy funeral programs for them when they paid the price for us to be standing where we are.”

He went on to credit the donors and supporters by saying, on this program the important people are the names on the back of the program. Those are the people whose names are on the plaques on the tree of life, along the chronology wall and down at the opening on the pathway leading to the statue.

“He is an icon in the community, he brought about something that none of us would have imagined,” said Muhammad. “The partners that are here, the corporate partners and the governmental partners would not have come to the table if it wasn’t for Mr. Duncantell’s will to get it done.”

The icon soon stepped up to receive his “flowers” and praise but in the fashion of Ovide Duncantell he reminded everyone of the struggle of the African American people in Houston. He also honored his friend Johnny Mata for his work alongside him over the years to improve the lives of all people of color.

“I believe in us having our own. We don’t need to wait for anyone else to give us power. When you are strong and united like a fist you can take power, they don’t give it away,” said Duncantell. “They said Dr. King name would never rise in this town. It took 30 years for us to get here. We took up the mantle.“

Although this was an event for the donors, those who gathered definitely acknowledged who paved the way for the event with all the gratitude they could muster.

DeWayne Lark, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D
DeWayne Lark, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Councilmember Dwight Boykins, District D

“I pray that God will bless all of us to give people flowers while they live. I’m not naming a park or a street or an alley after Ovide Duncantell after he is dead. It was in my heart to make sure this got done so he could see and touch it, so we can give him his flowers while he lives,” said Minister Robert Muhammad.

Many kind words were given to Ovide Duncantell throughout the morning. His hard work has not gone unnoticed. The MLK statue is just a visible testament to Duncantell’s work and character. A promised fulfilled and a wonderful place of enjoyment for generations to come.

Voter Apathy or Generation Peter Pan

Myra Griffin
Myra Griffin

The title used to give reason as to why my generation doesn’t vote is called Voter Apathy. Surely, it is such a thing, but I do not truly believe it is the reason why my fellow peers do not vote.

I am 29 years – old and a proud 80’s baby! I don’t believe I’m in the Generation X category but I’m not quite sure if I fall in the Generation Y group either. I think we are the Straddle on the Fence Generation or better yet the Peter Pan Generation.

My generation has chosen not to grown up and When we choose to not grow up and assume the responsibilities of adulthood, we choose apathy.

The 2014 Midterm Election cycle, which was pure torture for any Democrat to watch, The Grand Old Party had a magnificent night. With each Republican that won followed a bittersweet victory speech, while they watched with pride as their opponents gave hardy concession speeches of a better tomorrow; well that was definitely the case in Texas.
We have heard statistics for years that Texas should be a “purple” state. There are plenty Caucasians and majority minorities that live in the state that pledge allegiance to the democratic plight that the state truly should be “blue”. The voter turn-out says otherwise. It’s exactly what election night said, it is “Battle Red”.

But how is this possible? Yes, Texas is a wealthy state, filled with Oil and Gas, Energy, Cattle industry big timers but for every one of them there are three that aren’t doing quite so well. Education has been the biggest topic in Harris County within the past ten years. Healthcare is continually the no- go zone and wage increase, well the lack there of had Houstonians picketing outside of Burger King a couple of months ago and we re-elected those who oppose all these things again so they may continue the same practices.

Voter Apathy also known as the “It doesn’t affect me syndrome” allowed many young voters to stay at home and not exercise their right to vote. But I must say it is a duty. It is a responsible duty that we all must practice for the sake of our own lives and others around us.

I read on many social media sites that people really thought their vote didn’t count or the election process is just one big scam. How do you compete with that when the Peter Pan Generation were budding young adults during the Al Gore and George Bush election sham? That type of situation made a lasting impression in the minds of these adults. It made some more intense in their desire to vote and it turned others all the way off.

But it’s sad to see that its so many people of color who willingly and fervently choose not to vote. Legislation is the only thing that made and keeps the African American free. Legislation is the only reason why African Americans can vote. All of these things require a voted in legislator and of course, a vote. Then we must remember that the Voting Rights Act has to be voted to be renewed every 25 years. The power of the vote… and you say yours doesn’t matter, right?

What does this all mean to my fellow Peter Pans’? We must grow up. We must become our parents and realize that we must stay abreast of the current issues around us. We must watch the news in the morning before work and before bed. We must engage in who governs the world around us from the mayor of our city to the governor of the state. We must understand what it means when we vote for or against propositions in our cities and what that will mean in your everyday life. If we take a slight interest and not have so much apathy for things we have not yet to understand, we may can make use of the gifts bestowed upon us.

Voting is not a burden; it is a privilege that so many did not get the opportunity to have. It’s our duty to govern ourselves since America is the land of the free. How can we be a democratic society but don’t exercise your constitutional right to vote? To be an American citizen it is your right to vote.

For the next four years we will have a governor of Texas that isn’t a reflection of the Peter Pan generation. We will raise children under an administration that doesn’t want to provide adequate funding to public schools when they need it the most. We will raise children under an administration that doesn’t favor women’s health choices and women’s rights in wages. We will raise children under an administration that doesn’t care about the millions of children without health insurance because of one reason, APATHY.

The apathy towards the working class and the APATHY towards the minority man of power in Washington, D.C. .The war of classism and race will be our continued issue for the next four years all because we didn’t want to grow up.

Texans remain Battle “Red”

Democrats banding together after a hard loss.
Democrats banding together after a hard loss.

The midterm elections for 2014 proved to be an extremely disappointing night for the Democratic Party all over the country. Texas continued to be a “red” state despite the heavy campaigning and desire to turn “purple” or “blue”.

Attorney General Greg Abbott beat State Senator Wendy Davis by a 4% margin. His overall total votes were 349,109 and Davis earned 319,454 losing by 29,655 votes. This was a hard blow to die hard democrats who were hoping for Davis to win and change the political atmosphere in the state.

Davis’ concession speech was heartfelt. She told her supporters, “ Being disappointed is ok, being discouraged is not.” The loss set the tone for the rest of the nights results as many democrats hoped they could ride in on Davis’ coattails.

Senior incumbents such as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Representative Senfronia Thompson, State Representative Sylvester Turner, State Representative Alma Allen, State Representative Borris Miles and Congressman Al Green retained their seats in their districts that have proved to be loyal to them.

The real race were in positions such as Attorney General, Texas Land Commissioner, Railroad Commissioner, and in the judicial sector where many were running for open seats or against incumbents that came in during the last republican sweep in 2012.

In the Attorney General race, Sam Houston – D, lost to Ken Paxton- R by 39,254 votes, 6%. This was the circumstance for majority of the races. Candidates lost by small margins and proved why the early vote really is an important measure in election practices.

The District Attorney race for Harris County was one to watch as major issues such as the future of misdemeanor drug policy in Houston was at stake. Democratic candidate Kim Ogg lost to incumbent Devon Anderson by a 6% margin as well. Ogg was 43,004 votes shy of winning.

The county had a Republican sweep. Incumbents kept their seats especially in the judiciary and claimed the top seat in the statewide races.

Congresswoman Lee gathered democrats together at the end of the night to rally together after Wendy Davis’ speech at the Harris County Democratic Party headquarters.

“Thanks Wendy for never giving up,” said Lee. “For never stopping with your story of hope and inspiration.”

That hope and inspiration is now targeted toward the 2016 election cycle.

“We continue to be proud democrats,” said State Rep. Sylvester Turner. “We will still fight for our children and education so they may have opportunities, so they may be able to go to college and have the opportunities our parents didn’t have.”

The issue of healthcare and lack of it for millions of Texans is still there even as a new governor will come into power. Elected officials that retained their seats will have to continue the battle with a heavier Republican influence for the next two years.

Although the night proved to be a dim one for democrats State Rep. Turner reminded supporters that today leads to tomorrow and tomorrow will lead to a change.

Houston Sun’s Election Guide, Endorsements

The Houston Sun endorses Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas.

State Senator Wendy Davis
State Senator Wendy Davis

State Senator Wendy Davis will reinvigorate Texas and bring
out the true nature of the Lone Star State. Strength, courage and integrity are characteristics of Davis and the values she will bring to the governor’s office.

Davis’ story is one that many modern women have faced; Single parent at the young age of 19 and working two jobs. She went to community college and transferred to Texas Christian College with the help of scholarships and students loans. Davis went on the Harvard Law and graduated with honors.

After law school she went into business in Fort Worth and proved to be fiscally sound. She became the Chair of the City’s Economic Development Committee, which gave her a skill set she would need in her future career.

In 2008, Davis was elected to the Texas Senate. Where her courage, strength and integrity has made her a stand out figure and a viable candidate for the Governor of Texas.

Some of the State Senator’s work that has made her a prize contender is the famous filibuster in 2013, where she stood up for 12 hours fighting for women’s health rights. She also filibustered a budget that slashed over $5 billion from public schools. Davis also helped getting a majority of that funding restored to the budget in 2013.

Vote for Wendy Davis if you believe in education on all levels, job creation and veteran services, healthcare policies that benefit everyone and equal rights for everyone regardless of gender or race.

The Houston Sun endorses Sam Houston for Texas Attorney General.

Sam Houston
Sam Houston

Attorney Sam Houston, 51, is running to change an office that is under a lot of scrutiny right now as the present Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, has tied the state up in litigation that is the biggest issues in the governor’s race.

Houston is a graduate of Baylor College of Law. He is Board Certified and has practiced civil defense law for 26 years.

The changes he would like to make once elected is to settle many cases that are tied up in litigation such as the gay marriage amendment lawsuit, the abortion center closure lawsuit, voter id and the gerrymandering lawsuits. He would like to focus more on consumer protection and environmental rights. He wants to make sure that Texas is not at was with the federal government and end the policy of lets just sue the president.

He wants to be the lawyer for the state that will give advice and great counsel without just jumping straight into a lawsuit. Houston will listen and resolve disputes and look at the job through the eyes of a good attorney. He believes in compromise and is not ashamed to do so.

Houston ran for the Supreme Court of Texas in 2008 and did not win. But he knows he can do better.

Payday lending, environmental issues, fair child support, better living for the elderly and hard work for the public is what Sam Houston is working to do. He wants to be transparent and use the $500 million budget to represent all Texans as a creative and aggressive attorney.

Texas Railroad Commissioner
Candidate: Steve Brown (D)
Candidate : Ryan Sitton (R)

Steve Brown
Steve Brown

The Houston Sun endorses Steve Brown for Texas Railroad Commissioner.

Steve Brown, 39, has worked his whole life to get to this moment. He is a graduate and was a student organizer at North Carolina A&T, running mayoral campaigns and succeeding, he was the youngest African American to win a statewide primary in Texas and is working so hard to leave a legacy for generations to come. That is the reason why Brown is the best choice for the position of regulating the oil and gas in Texas.

Brown has worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and State Representative Sylvester Turner, he has worked at Legislative Affairs at the White House doing public policy during the Clinton Administration, so he is not a stranger to politics. He was elected twice to be the Democratic Party Chairman in Fort Bend.

The Texas Railroad Commission is the agency that regulates oil and gas. There are three commissioners and they each serve a six year term. Many different things fall under the Railroad commission such as mineral rights, jobs in the energy sector, regulating natural gas.

Brown will be a breath of fresh air to a committee that needs a public advocate. His motto is to regulate, protect and restructure and not to support and be cheerleaders for the oil and gas industry. For a billion dollar industry, it’s likely that Brown has ruffled a few feathers but for protection and correct policy someone has to provide checks and balance and that will be Steve Brown.

Ryan Sitton is graduate of Texas A&M University and is a Mechanical Engineering. He and his wife own PinnacleAIS, an engineering and technology company focused on reliability and integrity programs for the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.

Sitton has over 15 years of experience in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry, Ryan is an active member of several industry groups including: The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).
His promises are to ensure efficient and effective service to the state by providing a vision of technical competence, efficient management, and uncompromising customer service to both the industries and the taxpayers of the State of Texas. Guaranteeing regulations are consistent with both industry best practice and the latest technology and methodologies used in the drilling, production, and transport of natural gas, crude, and other related products. Carrying a strong message on our ability to self-regulate inside the State of Texas and advocate on behalf of Texans by pushing back on the intrusion of the EPA, OSHA, MSHA, and other federal regulatory agencies into our energy production.

Brown wants to reform the recusal policies. He believes they are weak and creates many conflicts of interest. Also a goal is to tighten up on policies and do the right thing by the people of Texas, while regulating and properly assessing mineral rights, giving the proper money owed. Future generation job security is also a priority. He would like to expose and help children especially minorities learn and discover jobs in the oil and gas industry.

The community opportunities that exist if we teach oil and gas work skill sets. There are plenty of jobs for the future generation in the oil patch. There are general contracts, trucking, during this oil boom.- Steve Brown.

He wants to set a mandate that the people want a change. Brown wants to be the public voice and advocate.

These two candidates are the same age but have two different backgrounds and points of view. The Sun recommends Brown for transparency and for the independence to be a neutral entity that will regulate without industry bias and ties.

Texas Land Commissioner
Candidate: John Cook (D)
Candidate: George P. Bush (R)

John Cook
John Cook

The Houston Sun endorses John Cook for the The Texas Land Commissioner.

John Cook, 68, is a respected civil servant who gave 14-years of service as a 6 year city councilmember and 8 year mayor of El Paso, the 6th largest city in Texas because he believed public service was an honor.

He received recognition as the 5th Best Mayor in the World for standing up for the civil rights of others because he was raised to do what’s right and make it popular rather than taking what’s popular and trying to make it right.

Cook is the longest serving municipal elected official of El Paso. He is a former teacher and a Vietnam combat veteran. As a businessman, he setup non-profit organizations to address gaps in services to those less fortunate.

Cook believes he is the better candidate for The Texas Land Commissioner because of his 35 years of real business experience and his leadership in Texas government, and his record as an elected official.

The Texas Land Commissioner is the fiscal trustee of $29 billion in land assets as well as mineral, oil and gas royalty revenues. These assets are dedicated to funding the Permanent School Fund which helps fund school districts statewide.

Texas State Board of Education Pos. 4
Incumbent: Lawrence Allen, Jr.

Lawrence Allen, Jr.
Lawrence Allen, Jr.

The Houston Sun endorses Lawrence Allen, Jr. for the re-election to the Texas State Board of Education Position 4.

Lawrence Allen, Jr., 52, has been a life long educator. He taught for Houston Independent School District for 31 years before he became elected to his seat 10 years ago.

Allen was a teacher at Lanier and Dowling Middle School until he became the Assistant Principal at Jones High School. He went on to become the Assistant Principal at Yates Senior High and finally the Head Principal at his alma mater, Jesse H. Jones. Although he has a passion for the education realm he had the desire to reach out into the political arena as he ran for City Council in 2006 against Wanda Adams and lost.

That City Council run did not slow Allen as he went on to win a seat for the Texas State Board of Education and has kept his seat through five election cycles.

His position sets the standards for education throughout the state. Allen has set the tone that elected officials can still relate to the community. He serves as the Community Relation Liaison for HISD and keeps the relationship between the faith based organizations and the district.

Allen’s area spans from where Lamar is by the Galleria area on east such as Alief, Galena Park, Sheldon, Channelview and as north as Spring.

If re-elected Allen will push for more creative charter schools. The legislature has already moved the count to 300, which leaves room for another 85 schools in the next 10 years.

United States Congress District 10
Incumbent: Congressman Mike McCall (R)
Candidate: Tawana W. Cadien (D)

Tawana Cadien
Tawana Cadien

The Houston Sun endorses Tawana W. Cadien for the U.S.Congress District 10.

Tawana W. Cadien, 41, is a reflection of what President Barack Obama propagated, Change. She is running because she wants change and it starts with an idea, a passion and a plan. Cadien is a Registered Nurse and received her Masters’ in Public Administration from the Barbara Jordan/ Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, where many greats went before her.

This is Cadien’s second time running for this seat. She ran in 2012 and lost. Her platform is a strong economy, improving education and protecting seniors. She believes health care is still a huge issue in Texas and that the incumbent does not see it as a priority. Education should be equal as well as the opportunities and the respect of veterans and senior citizens are her focus points.

Job security and the support for small businesses as well as retirement are her focal points. She wants to get rid of partyism and push for community support on progressive issues.
Congressman Michael T. McCaul is in his fifth term representing Texas’ 10th District in the United States Congress. This district stretches from Austin to the Houston suburbs, and includes Austin, Bastrop, Colorado, Fayette, Harris, Lee, Travis, Washington and Waller Counties.

Rep. McCaul became Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Committee has oversight of the Department of Homeland Security ensuring it is able to carry out its core mission of protecting the American people from terrorist attacks. As Chairman, McCaul prioritizes the threat of international and domestic terrorism, cyber security, airport security and fixing dysfunctional management within DHS which contributes to wasted taxpayer dollars, delayed security operations and corruption.

Congressman McCaul is also the Chairman of the U.S.-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary Group (I.P.G.) .

After 10 years of service McCaul has done a good job but it is time for a new face to represent the issues of the current need of Texans. Cadien has campaigned and is ready for her shot to lead .

State Representative for Texas House District 133
Incumbent: State Rep. Jim Brown- R
Candidate: Laura Nicol- Progressive D

Laura Nicol
Laura Nicol

The Houston Sun endorses Candidate Laura Nicol for State Representative for Texas House District 133.

Texas politics needs a burst of enthusiasm, some serious excitement. Laura Nicol, 51, is bringing the spunk as she has set out to challenge incumbent State Rep. Jim Brown, 56, for his long time seat. Nicol’s ideas and progressive ways of thinking is why the Houston Sun endorses Laura Nicol.

Nicol describes her district as a small section in starting from IH-10 to Westheimer and Hwy 6 to IH-610. The demographics read that the population is educated, fairly young and employed with a $58,086 income range per capita, according to the Texas House District 133 profile.

Her platform is better schools, good jobs and an improved community. She is a native Texan, who has raised a family in Houston since 2004. She has an engineering degree from UT Austin but has a strong involvement in her community. Politically she has served as the Precinct Chair and Election Judge for her district and she is ready now to throw her hat in the ring for the big seat.

Nicol and Brown have differing issues on LBGT rights as Brown has a record of standing in the way of the progression of gay rights in Texas and Nicol believes no business or public facility has the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Education, wages and environmental safety are some of Nicol’s biggest concerns. She wants better funding for neighborhood schools and resources according to need. The battle over equal pay for women is not just a part of the governor’s race. Brown has voted against equal pay for women and Nicol vows to “champion legislation” that provides a living wage for everyone.

At her screening, Nicol’s said she was all about the people especially the children. Flooding and water management is a topic she speaks passionately about but is not big on her opponent’s agenda.

Although the incumbent Rep. Jim Brown has served in his seat from 2007- 2009 and again from 2011 until now, the seat could use some new blood and new ideals to continue with the changing political and socio status of Houston.

Other Endorsements: AFL-CIO, Spring Branch Democrats, Katy Democrats, SD17 Democrats, Democracy For Houston

The Houston Sun endorses Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney.

Kim Ogg
Kim Ogg

Attorney Kim Ogg is an experienced advocate for the people. She has worked and dwelled amongst all walks of life in her 54 years of life. Ogg has waitressed, bartended, worked in the newspaper business as a writer and in advertising, and also branded Crime Stoppers in Houston, went to law school at South Texas College of Law and has practiced family and criminal law for 27 years.

Ogg wants to take the politics and double standards out the D.A.’s office and has reform up her sleeve. Her biggest policy issue is on the arrest of those with small amounts of marijuana in their possession. She believes they should be ticketed instead of taken to jail and tried. Her object is to reduce crime and do right by the people of Harris County.

The District Attorney sets the tone for the policy in prosecution of cases in the county. Ogg wants prosecutors to be more experienced as they deal with people’s lives, with mature and sound judgment. She will bring more diversity into the office and bridge the cultural divide of lawyers and prosecutors.

She wants to revamp the agency and bring it into the 21st Century with technology, crime mapping and allowing agencies to coordinate. Her time will go more into prosecuting white -collar crime and rehabilitating non- violent offenders and drug users. But her first priority is to immediately implement a new drug policy.

Harris County Clerk
Incumbent: Stan Stanart
Candidate: Ann Harris Bennett

Ann Harris Bennett
Ann Harris Bennett

The Houston Sun endorses Ann Harris Bennett for the Harris County Clerk.

Ann Harris Bennett, 61, has had a long career working in the aspects that fall under the parameters of County Clerk. She has 14 years of experience as a district court administrator, 12 years as a legal secretary and 12 years’ experience in genealogy research and served as an expert witness for Spanish and Mexican land grants.

The office of County Clerk maintains the records, vital records, issuing of marriage licenses, death certificates, property records and cattle brands. If elected she will also select the clerks that will serve in the county probate courts as well as manage the election records and results.

Bennett is adamant she can provide the county with better service than the incumbent Stan Stanart. If elected she will get rid of the partyism in the office and take politics out.

She will also call for electronic filing and upgrade the technology in order to help the courts flow better. Bennett believes the delay in filing paperwork is negligent to the tax payers, judges and the whole judicial system.

“Folks are tired of the election process being tampered with.”- Ann Harris Bennett

234th Civil District Court Judge
Incumbent: Judge Wesley Ward (R)
Candidate: Attorney Barbara Gardner(D)

Barbara Gardner
Barbara Gardner

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Barbara Gardner for Judge of the 234th Civil District Court.

Attorney Barbara Gardner is as sharp as a filleting knife but just as compassionate about the people of Houston when it comes to justice and fairness on the bench. Candidate Barbara Gardner is an experienced attorney of 30 years who is highly decorated and was #1 in her law school class at South Texas College of Law.

Gardner has had trial experience in district, appellate courts and has argued cases before the Texas Supreme Court. As a defense attorney, she has tried cases for 30 years and has been also argued as for the plaintiff.

Judge Wesley Ward is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and has 16 years of civil law under his belt. He has practiced business litigation, personal injury and shareholders disputes. Judge Ward was appointed by Governor Rick Perry and was unanimously voted in by the Texas State Senate.

Ward realizes there is still work to be done in his court as he would like to cut down on default judgments, which is when one party doesn’t show up and the litigant automatically loses. He wants to educate about the importance of understanding your role in the judicial system, and pro- se litigants get their fair day in court, while getting his docket down by making decisions on cases three years and older.

If elected, Gardner wants to make the docket move and resolve more cases instead of resetting trials. She vows to have organization, efficiency and work hard for the citizens that come before her.

Her experience and tenacity to provide fair and equal justice mixed with the desire to get the courts docket under control, with a prepared and effective court makes Gardner a very viable candidate for 234th Civil Court.

She ran in 2012 for the Court Appeals and lost. Gardner also has served as the President of the Harris County Democratic Women.

269TH Civil District Court
Incumbent: Judge Dan Hinde (R )
Candidate: Attorney George Arnold (D )

George Arnold
George Arnold

The Houston Sun endorses Candidate George Arnold for 269th Civil District Court Judge.

Attorney George Arnold, 47, is an extremely smart man. His honesty and experience with Civil Law makes Arnold a very compelling candidate. He is a Baylor undergraduate and Law School grad. For the past 22 years, Arnold has practiced Civil Law only such as products liability and mass torts. He has represented individuals, corporations, healthcare providers and insurance companies, all the way well rounded.

Governor Rick Perry appointed the incumbent judge Dan Hinde in 2008. He is now running for his seat again. Hinde is an honor grad of UT Law School in 1997. For 17 years he practiced Civil Law in many different areas before his appointment.

Arnold has experience in state and federal courts and is a first time candidate. He wants to change the climate of the 269th court. Arnold thinks the court is too stiff and has the feel of a federal court in which the incumbent clerked in before he became a judge. He would like to allow counsel to conduct a jury selection, opening and closing statements away from a stationery podium and allow counsel to withdraw from cases when a conflict arises.

With the hopes to bring change to the 269th Civil District Court, Arnold would like to utilize his experience gained over the past 20 years to provide a meaningful service to the people of Houston.

Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 10
Incumbent: John Connely (R)
Candidate: George Barnstone (D)

George Barnstone
George Barnstone

The Houston Sun endorses George Barnstone for Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 10.

George Barnstone, 51 has over 20 years of experience in the legal system as a practicing attorney and is a graduate of University of Texas School of Law.

If he is elected to Criminal Court No. 10 his platform would be mental health. He would also mandate personal recognizance (PR) bonds in his court to first time offenders on minor infractions so people will not have to spend excessive time in jail until their trial.

Barnstone wants to improve justice in Harris County by getting rid of the pay or play system especially when it comes to bonds. He said, defendants whether they are rich or poor, black or white deserve equal and fair treatment in the judicial system.

He expects to achieve a model courtroom where defendants will know they will receive a fair trial and not one that sacrifices justice for expediency. Barnstone believes the judiciary protects the Bill of Rights and its their job to uphold it.

Barstone is supported by State Senator Rodney Ellis, Sissy Farenthold and has been endorsed by the Mexican Bar Association of Houston, the Pasadena Bar Association the AFC-CIO, The Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Political Caucus.

230th County Criminal Court
Incumbent: Judge Brad Hart
Candidate: Greg Glass

Greg Glass
Greg Glass

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Greg Glass for judge of the 230th Criminal District Court.

Attorney Greg Glass, 66, is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. He has 41 years of experience as a criminal trial attorney. Glass has argued before the state and federal courts in misdemeanor and felony cases. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law.

Glass is a strong believer in rehabilitation and discipline versus straight jail time. He is smart and knows his craft front and back.

The Pre- Trial bonding system is a concern of his. Glass believes there are too many ex prosecutors on the bench and the justice system is not balanced. Because the bond system is set up as is, Glass believes there are too many people in jail and the bonds should be reviewed and based on the person.

“People are humans and not statistics.”- Attorney Greg Glass
The incumbent is Judge Brad Hart. He is a graduate of South Texas College of Law and was hired as a prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office after passing the bar. In 2006, he was promoted to Felony District Court Chief. He has jury trial experience and was appointed in 2013 by Governor Rick Perry .
Attorney Greg Glass is ready for the bench.

He is more experienced than his opponent and is ready to administer impartial justice.

Harris County Criminal Court #2
Incumbent: William Harmon (R)
Candidate: Harold Landreneau (D)

Harold Landreneau
Harold Landreneau

The Houston Sun endorses Harold Landreneau for the Harris County Criminal Court #2.

Harold Landreneau, 45, is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law and is running to bring justice back to the County Criminal Courts. He has practiced criminal law for nine years. Landreneau was twice elected to The Harris County Bail Bond Board and served as a Harris County Precinct Judge from 2002-2013.

Landreneau wants to be a judge that will follow the law and be fair and impartial and not as another prosecutor who will automatically side with the prosecution. He believes in fairness and will be impartial while following the law.

If elected he will be on the bench on time and work for the people, deal with the backlog in this court and get the docket moving again, educate about PR Bonds because money shouldn’t dictate if someone gets a fair shot, interpreters for the vast multi- ethnic population in Houston and he will provide the proper demeanor of a judge while on the bench, cutting out mass pleadings and the chain gang parade in County Criminal Court #2.

Landreneau has a unique experience as a legal clerk and working his way up to the Chief Clerk gave him the opportunity to be able to learn how to facilitate a courtroom from the ground up. He is highly qualified to take on the position as judge of the County Criminal Court #2.

263rd Criminal District Court
Incumbent: Judge Jim Wallace
Candidate: Herb Ritchie

Herb Ritchie
Herb Ritchie

The Houston Sun endorses Herb Ritchie for the 263rd Criminal District Court.

Attorney Herb Ritchie,68, is a highly decorated academic who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. He has 34 years of experience in criminal law, real estate law, civil law and he was counsel for Southwestern Bell Telephone. Ritchie is Board Certified in Criminal Law.

Ritchie was elected to the 337th Criminal District court from 2009-2012. His experience is vast and his demeanor is what will make him the best candidate. Known for reform over sentencing, Ritchie wants to improve the quality of life for those who come before him on the bench. The rulings usually lead to treatment and rehabilitation for non- violent offenders. His theory is that prison is not always the best choice.

Judge Jim Wallace has presided over the 263rd Criminal District Court for the last sixteen years. He has been elected four times since 1994. He is highly qualified for his seat. Wallace is a graduated from Texas A&M University- Commerce and is a former police officer and assistant district attorney. He is also Board Certified in Criminal Law.

Both candidates are qualified for the seat but have two different point of views and ruling styles.

If Ritchie is elected to the 263rd he will allow deferred adjudication or probation to be options, as he believes in second chances. He also wants to educate the youth while setting provisions that will help non- violent offenders.

Harris County Probate Court 4
Incumbent: Judge Christine Butts
Candidate: Attorney James Horwitz

James Horwitz
James Horwitz

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney James Horwitz for Probate Court 4.

Attorney James Horwitz, 65, after 37 years practicing civil law such as family law including divorces, mediation and probate law as well. After an unsuccessful run for City Council last year, Horwitz will run for a position better suited for his expertise, the presiding judge for Probate Court 4.

Incumbent Judge Christine Butts was voted in, in 2010 and is up for re-election. Judge Butts practiced probate and tax law for 14 years before she took the bench. She was honored as one of Houston’s Top Lawyer in 2007-2009 and was partner at Riddle, Butts and Aikens, LLP from 2007 until she was elected.

Horwitz experience is double of the Judge Butts but Probate Court 4 has a mental health docket that Horwitz believes he can make a true impact in. He has a B.S. in Psychology and has five years working as a Social Worker. But outside of family and mental health, Horwitz has practiced all aspects of probate law and is confident in his ability.

His promise to Houstonians is to be fair and impartial and balance the needs of the individuals versus the needs of society.

As a solo practitioner, Horwitz can hold his own in the legal world. He believes in community and the service elected officials should provide. Horwitz believes it is every public officials job to educate the public on how to help themselves in issues that they can handle.

Both contenders are University of Houston Law Center graduates.

County Criminal Court #8
Incumbent: Judge Jay Karahan, (R )
Candidate: Kelli Johnson, (D)

Judge Jay Karahan
Judge Jay Karahan

The Houston Sun endorses the incumbent, Judge Jay Karahan, for re-election to the County Criminal Court #8.

Judge Jay Karahan, 58, has presided over the Criminal Court #8 for the past 12 years. He has adjudicated over 60,000 serious misdemeanor cases and over 500 trials. Karahan is a graduate of South Texas College of Law. His 20 years of experience are vast and is what makes him the best for this seat.

Before finishing law school he was a law clerk. He graduated and passed the bar and became an Assistant District Attorney, and then he went on to become an Assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. His next step took him in the opposite direction as he flipped sides of the courtroom and became a defense attorney instead of a prosecutor. Karahan has also taught law and advocacy which adds to his knowledge base about his profession and position.

His personal experiences have molded him into a fair and even tempered man. Karahan is a humble man, was a single father and believes in being a “servant leader”.

Two key things that he plans on doing to keep improving his court is working hard on the Mental Health Jail Diversion Program Courts. It will be three of them, the 215th,5th and his court the 8th. These courts are designed to keep people out of jail who don’t need to be there but need help in other areas.

Attorneys will be trained to spot the mental health problems so the defendant can be diverted to the right court. Pre- Trial bonds are the also a target with Karahan. He does not like the Bail Bond business and how it is currently running in Harris County. He believes in using the PR Bonds as much as possible for non-violent crimes.

Judge Karahan understands his craft and is a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer. He runs an ethnically diverse courtroom and is ranked very highly amongst lawyers as a judge according to the Houston Bar Association. He believes that he allows his courtroom to flow and lets the jury decide and not make the defense attorneys sit on their hands and not do their job.

“I show up every day, on time, cases get tried without delay and I reset before each case. I don’t drag my thoughts from the last case to the next case. I stop and reset before each case.”- Judge Jay Karahan.

Attorney Kelli Johnson has served as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney for 15 years and for the last eight years as a Felony Chief Prosecutor in White Collar Crime and in the Trial Bureau. She has prosecuted thousands of cases from misdemeanors to Capital Murder. She is a graduate of South Texas College of Law. While in law school she clerked for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Judge Karahan is in mid stride of doing tremendous work in his court. He is competent and well deserving of re-election. He is highly recommended to keep his seat as Judge of County Criminal Court #8.

190th Civil District Court
Incumbent: Judge Patricia Kerrigan (R)
Candidate: Attorney Farrah Martinez (D)

Judge Patricia Kerrigan
Judge Patricia Kerrigan

The Houston Sun endorses Judge Patricia Kerrigan for re-election of the 190th Civil District Court.

Judge Patricia Kerrigan, 63, is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and has practiced civil law for the 24 years. She was appointed to the 190th Court by Governor Rick Perry in December of 2007 and then she ran in 2008 primary and survived the Democratic sweep. She ran again in 2010, won and now she is back up for re-election.

Kerrigan is smart and has worked in many sectors of civil law such as product liability, tort, arbitration and commercial law. She has a patient temperament that will allow lawyers to do their job in her court, but she will still enforce the rules. Her philosophy is that when the wheels come off the car she is the one to put them back on and get them going in the right direction to get to the end.

Attorney Farrah Martinez, 35, has fire under her feet and she is ready to take the next step. Young and ambitious, Martinez graduated from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and has been a solo practitioner for nine years. For the past six years she has worked as the Director of Legislative Affairs at the District Clerk Office. Martinez needs a little more preparation in the courtroom before she takes the next step to become a judge. Her down to earth demeanor and respect for the underdog will catapult Martinez in a future race.

If elected Attorney Martinez would like the judiciary to reflect the diversity of the city and bring the 190th Court from favoring the rich.

Judge Kerrigan is a hands-on judge who believes in being accessible. She is extremely knowledgeable and unafraid to do her job.

309th Family District Court
Incumbent: Judge Sheri Dean (R )
Candidate: Kathy Vossler (D)

Kathy Vossler
Kathy Vossler

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Kathy Vossler for the 309th Family District Court.

Attorney Kathy Vossler , 52, is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and has practiced family law for the past 17 years. Her candor is what makes her the best candidate for this position as she has the right posture to keep a Family Court in line.

Vossler understands the practice of family law and has trial experience. She believes in having respect in the courts and providing litigants a dignified atmosphere. Her goal is to improve the court so families can have closure and move on.

The incumbent is Judge Sheri Dean, a graduate of South Texas College of Law. She practiced 18 years of family law as a solo practitioner before she was appointed to the 309th by Governor Rick Perry in 2010. The same year she was elected to the seat and she is now up for re-election.

Some of the issues in the 309th that Vossler wants to fix are the pre-trial docket. She believes it is a waste of time if the case is not about to be heard. Vossler calls it 1-3 hours of wasted time and billable hours for people who can barely afford it. She would also honor mediated settlement agreements. She just wants to apply the law and not add anything to it. Her goal is to be a good competent person that judges each case individually, while having integrity.

55th Civil District Court
Judge Jeff Shadwick (R)
Attorney Kay Morgan (D)

Kay Morgan
Kay Morgan
Judge Jeff Shadwick
Judge Jeff Shadwick

The Houston Sun endorses Kay Morgan and Judge Jeff Shadwick for the 55th Civil District Court.

Attorney Kay Morgan, 67, has 33 years experience practicing law. Her scope in civil law is wide, as she has practiced commercial/business litigation, personal injury, products liability, medical malpractice and insurance law.

Morgan is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law, and from there clerked for the Honorable John Brown in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in which she learned about how to practice and apply the law.

The incumbent is Judge Jeff Shadwick. He is a graduate of Baylor Law School and has 28 years experience as an attorney in civil litigation. For the past five years he has served on the 55th District Court bench. In 2007 he was appointed by Governor Rick Perry and lost in the 2008 election. In 2010 he made a comeback and now is back up for election. He has also served twice on HISD’s School Board in the past.

Judge Shadwick knows his craft and understands the emotion of the court. He has a sense of fairness and believes everyone deserves their day in court. Shadwick has a sense of humility and is a single father, which also provides for his sense of humor and common sense.

Morgan if elected would like to make a change in the 55th. She would like to decrease summary judgments, which don’t allow for jury trials. Compassion, dignity and a level playing field is what Morgan is offering along with her vast experience.

Judge Shadwick would like to help lawyers to understand the process of summary judgments in the 55th. If the summary judgment is done correctly he will rule and move the docket. He would also continue to mentor young lawyers and law students in order to help with decorum and also show them the way to get better at their craft.

Attorney Kay Morgan is ready for her shot to lead and has put in the work to get there, but Judge Shadwick is effective and runs his court in an efficient manner. Both contenders are worthy of the position.

295th Civil District Court
Judge Carol E. Baker (R)
Latosha Lewis (D)

Judge Carol Baker
Judge Carol Baker
Latosha Lewis
Latosha Lewis

The Houston Sun endorses Judge Carol E. Baker and Attorney Latosha Lewis for the 295th Civil District Court.

Attorney Latosha Lewis is an extremely bright civil lawyer that has practiced for the past 14 years. She has argued cases such as personal injury, environmental, property damage claims, premise liability, breach of contract claims, insurance coverage claims, debt collection, workers compensation and consumer credit reporting.

The incumbent is Judge Carol E. Baker, 51. Baker served as a civil court judge for 16 years. A graduate of Princeton and the University of Texas Law School, Baker has 20 years of civil trial experience. She is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and a Certified Mediator.

Judge Baker was elected in the 1997 to the 151st Civil District bench and held on to her seat for 11 years until she lost in 2008. Governor Perry appointed Judge Baker to fill a vacant seat in 2009 and then she was elected in 2010 to the 295th Civil Court.

Her demeanor as a judge is one of understanding and experience. Baker wants to create an atmosphere of an equal playing field where lawyers can be heard. She is not scared to do her job and is quite knowledgeable about her role as a judge.
Service is another key component of her work as she volunteers in the S.T.A.A.R. court to help people with their addiction and restructure their families.

Judge Baker would like to make improvements inside the civil courts such as the Ancillary system for emergency motions. She would like to take it back to the old system, where a judge only heard emergency cases for two weeks to handle those particular situations. Baker believes the new system is confusing and not fair to the people who need relief, the judge or those on trial. The e-filing system is also a concern as well as she feels people need complete access to the courts whether they have internet access or not. A balance of technology and the walk- in process is an issue she would like resolved.

Lewis is a graduate of University of Texas School of Law as well. She made partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP while practicing Environmental law.

What makes Lewis the viable and the candidate of choice is her willingness to put in the extra work to have a low docket count, her commitment to service and her dedication to help pro- se litigants through the judicial process.

Judge Baker is poised to continue her work and improve throughout the next four years. She is a strong candidate choice.

Harris County Criminal Court #4
Incumbent: Judge John Clinton (R)
Candidate: Nikita “Niki” Harmon (D)

Nikita Harmon
Nikita Harmon

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Nikita “Niki” Harmon for the Harris County Criminal Court #4.

Attorney Nikita “Niki” Harmon, 54, has 24 years of experience practicing criminal law. She is a graduate of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. As a practicing attorney, she focused on family law and criminal defense.

Harmon aided victims of domestic abuse and provided assistance to battered women and their children in family domestic court with a strong emphasis on custody hearings and property division.
She has comprehensive knowledge of court processes and procedures. In 1999, she was appointed by the City of Houston Courts as a municipal judge and has served in that position for 14-years where she presided over numerous jury and bench trails.

Harmon says that she is the best candidate for the position because she believes the judiciary system needs improving so that citizens can have confidence in the system. Harmon believes she is extremely fair and practices impartiality as a municipal judge. In addition, if elected to the bench for Harris County Criminal Court #4 she will not be influenced by race or wealth when it comes to dispensing justice.

One of the goals she would like to accomplish is having a specialty court for first time, non-violent offenders and give access to Pre-Trial diversion. She would also like to provide a life skills program for young women in court for prostitution.
Harmon understands procedure and how to facilitate a court, she can move the docket while understanding everyone’s time.

Her mantra is fair, formed and focused. Fair, meaning that she treats everyone with dignity and respect. Formed meaning she will run a very efficient and effective courtroom and; Focused, meaning she will apply the law consistently and fairly even when it may not be the popular thing to do.

County Probate Court #1
Incumbent: Judge Lloyd Wright
Candidate: Kim Hoesl

Kim Hoesl
Kim Hoesl

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Kim Hoesl for judge of the County Probate Court #1.

Attorney Kim Hoesl has practiced civil and probate law for the past 11 years. She has extensive trial experience and is knowledgeable about the law.

If elected, Hoesl will not be afraid of getting a contested case heard. She believes in making a decision and standing on it. Her experience as an attorney has allowed her to know how to get it right and get the job done.

She believes everyone deserves their day in court and she wants to revamp the appointment system to make it fair for indigent clients. Community outreach is also a big deal for Hoesl as she believes there needs to be a bridging of the community and the court.

“Having judges who are inexperienced in trial matters is a particular problem in the probate courts.”- Attorney Kim Hoesl
Hoesl would like to bring change to the County Probate Court #1 by starting the docket in a timely manner, listen to the facts with fresh ears and use her knowledge of both the law and process necessary for justice.

The incumbent is Judge Lloyd Wright who was elected in 2010. He is up for re-election.

185th Criminal District Court
Incumbent: Susan Brown (R)
Candidate: Mack McInnis (D)

Mac McInnis
Mac McInnis

The Houston Sun endorses Mack McInnis for the 185th Criminal District Court.

Mack McInnis, 68 is a well-respected civil rights criminal defense lawyer and a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law and has 32 years of experience. As of now he works at the Harris County Attorney’s Office in the Child Protective Division.

This isn’t McInnis’ first rodeo but he is still seeking office because he wants to change the Harris County system of Grand Juries. He says it has become a shameful scandal.

McInnis says his opponent Judge Susan Brown has convened the runaway Grand Jury that smeared former District Attorney Patricia Lykos. He believes she uses an archaic and notorious method of selecting grand juries called the pick-a-pal method and the sealing of grand jury records in Harris County.

McInnis also want to return to a fairer, cheaper, and safer Pretrial Release Program so that non-violent working class defendants will be returned to work before trail rather than waiting months in jail which often causes them to lose jobs while waiting for court dates.

If elected to the bench for the 185th Criminal District Court McInnis hopes to end the pick-a-pal grand jury system, to convince the judges in Harris County to return to a fair pretrial release program and to end the wrongful convictions which are caused by a failed crime lab and evidence storage system that must be reformed.

McInnis has been endorsed by every Democratic organization and has the strong support of community leaders and attorneys who care about reforming the judicial system.

314th Juvenile District Court
Judge John Phillips (R)
Natalia Oakes (D)

Natalia Oakes
Natalia Oakes

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Natalia Oakes for the 314th Juvenile Family District Court.

Attorney Natalia Oakes, 62, has 14 years handling juvenile delinquencies as lawyer. A former school teacher and a very involved parent, Oakes is apt to understand juveniles and are able to work with them. Her experience in the courtroom has only pertained to juveniles and family law and she is a certified mediator.

Oakes is a graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law of Texas Southern University and has worked with the Juvenile Law Section of the Houston Bar Association.

Judge John Phillips is a graduate of South Texas College of Law, and a former Assistant District Attorney. Judge Phillips had a private law practice for 16 years. He was elected to judge in the 314th District Court in 2002. Judge Phillips was re-elected again in 2006 and 2010. He currently serves as Administrative Judge of the juvenile division. Judge Phillips helped develop the Juvenile Mental Health Court.

Oakes has goals for the 314th Juvenile Court, which includes changing the temperance of the court from one of alleged intimidation to a positive morale. She would also like to see more effective rehab programs such as the expansion of the mental health court where there can be more juveniles seen inside the court.

Although Judge Phillips has brought new programs into the 314th Juvenile Court, it could be improved on dramatically and the method of ruling out Grandparents Rights is archaic. Attorney Natalia Oakes will be the best candidate for the future of the 314th Juvenile Family Court.

Harris County Criminal Court #5
Judge Margaret Stewart Harris (R)
Ramona Franklin (D)

Ramona Franklin
Ramona Franklin

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Ramona Franklin for the Harris County Criminal Court #5.

Attorney Ramona Franklin,42, is a rarity in this midterm election. After graduating from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan, she went to work in the District Attorney’s office before she became a criminal defense lawyer, so she has been on both sides of the courtroom.

Her desire to make a difference and not just lock people up is definitely a perk in this race.

Franklin has practiced law for the past 12 years. Her diverse background and the want to be impartial and fair will make a difference in Harris County.

Judge Margaret Harris graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1986. She too has served as a prosecutor as she worked for Harris County District Attorney Johnny Holmes as a prosecutor in 1986, and promoted to Felony Chief Prosecutor in December 1991. She also served for many years in the Special Crimes Bureau, prosecuting Public Integrity, Major Narcotics, and Major Fraud cases.
Harris was elected to the bench in 2002.

Harris County courts have developed a reputation for prosecutors becoming judges that prosecute from the bench. Franklin wants to rid the bench of that and just follow the law. Pre-trial diversion will be another goal that she will work on if elected to the County Criminal Court #5.

246th Family District Court
Open Seat
Candidate: Attorney Sandra Peake (D)
Candidate: Charley Prine (R )

Sandra Peake
Sandra Peake

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Sandra Peake.

The current judge in the 246th Family District Court will not run again for the seat. So it is fair game and may the best candidate win.

Attorney Sandra Peake has 30 years of experience as a civil lawyer practicing mainly family law such as divorces, custody modifications and enforcements, post divorce division and adoptions, family mediation, wills and probate, Social Security appeals and consumer bankruptcy. She is a certified mediator, hearing officer and an instructor at HCC for Legal Assistants to be certified.

Peake is a graduate of the University of Houston College of Law.

Charley Prine is a graduate of South Texas College of Law and has been practicing family, probate and real estate law for almost 20 years. He is an Associate Judge in the 309th District Court.

Attorney Peake is the best candidate for the 246th Family Court because of her efficiency and experience. She wants to run a timely court and move the docket but in a fair manner. If elected she will be the first African American woman to be elected to the family court bench in Houston. Due to her vast experience in family law Peake will have no problem adjusting to the position.

311th Family District Court
Incumbent: Judge Alicia Franklin
Candidate: Attorney Sherri Cothrun

Sherri Cothrun
Sherri Cothrun

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Sherri Cothrun for 311th Family District Court Judge.

Attorney Sherri Cothrun, 58, has practiced Family Law for 30 years and is ready for the next step. She has ran before in 1994 and in 2010 to no avail but this year may be a different story. Sherri has a way of relating to people that will do well in the courtroom as a judge.

Cothrun is a graduate of Pepperdine Law School. She is Board Certified as a Family Law Specialist and was voted Most Qualified Candidate in 2014 by the Houston Bar Association for the 311th Family Court Bench. She has practice family law, is a certified mediator and arbitrator.

The incumbent judge Alicia Franklin was appointed by Governor Rick Perry after Judge Pratt resigned. Franklin graduated from St. Mary’s School of Law in 2003 and practiced until her appointment.

Franklin is not nearly as qualified for the position as Cothrun and her experience overshadows the incumbent.

Cothrun wants to improve the courts website to help guide constituents who want to defend themselves through the process and also provided services in Spanish and Vietnamese.

113th Civil District Court
Incumbent: Judge Michael Landrum (R)
Candidate: Attorney Steven Kirkland (D)

Steven Kirkland
Steven Kirkland

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Steven Kirkland for Judge of the 113th Civil District Court.

Attorney Steven Kirkland, 54, is not a stranger to the bench. He served as judge in the 215th Civil Court from 2008 and lost in the 2012 race. He championed the Homeless Recovery Court in the Municipal Courts, where he has been a judge since 2001, as a way to satisfy warrants accumulated by the homeless without them going to jail. In the 215th District Court he mandated e-filing in all cases and saved constituents money by being prepared for court.

Kirkland has 24 years of legal experience and 12 years of judicial experience. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center.
He has represented all types of litigants from individual homeowners to international oil companies. He has been on both sides of the courtroom and has the experience as a judge as well.

His commitment is to be fair, transparent and give diversity to the courtroom.

Incumbent Judge Michael Landrum,62, is an appointee of Governor Rick Perry in 2012 to the 113th Civil Court bench. He is well qualified for his position as judge as well. He practiced law for 37 years before he was appointed to his seat. He graduated from UT School of Law and is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Civil Appellate Court Law. He has practiced before the Supreme Court of Texas and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Landrum also has 22 years experience as an arbitrator and 14 years under his belt dealing with delinquent tax cases.

Judge Landrum is understanding and has the temperament that anyone would want to see on the bench. He is known to be accessible and know the law. He believes in transparency and order. Landrum understands the business of law and the inner workings of being a judge. He is definitely a viable candidate for re-election.

Kirkland is ready for the bench again. He has the experience and has even served as a juror before. He understands the plight of the plaintiff, the defendant and the juror. He sees every case as important and believes every case should be heard and given a fair verdict based solely on the law.

281st Civil District Court
Incumbent: Judge Sylvia Matthews
Candidate: Tanner Garth

Tanner Garth
Tanner Garth

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Tanner Garth for the 281st Civil District Court.

Attorney Tanner Garth, 57, has practiced civil law for the past 27 years and is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law. He is a Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer. This is not Garth’s first run for judge but this should be a successful run.

Garth would like to return the morale back to the 281st Court. He would like to give respect and dignity to the litigants that come into the court by providing an equal and fair chance.
Judge Sylvia Matthews was appointed to the 281st in 2008 by Governor Rick Perry. She has had 20 years of trial experience and was partner before she became a judge. She believes in fairness and hard work.

Garth believes it is very important to give back to the community and teaches as an adjunct at South Texas College of Law doing mock trial teams.

313th Juvenile District Court
Incumbent: Judge Glenn Devlin (R)
Candidate: Tracy Good (D)

Tracy Good
Tracy Good

The Houston Sun endorses Attorney Tracy Good for the 313th District Court.

Attorney Tracy Good, 47, is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and has 9 years under his belt practicing law. He is a private practitioner and has argued cases in civil and family law such as juvenile cases, contract drafting, bankruptcy and consumer fraud. Before Good became an attorney he was a CPA.

Judge Glenn Devlin has 30 years experience practicing law involving Child Protective Service and delinquency cases. He was elected in 2010 and serves on the Harris County Juvenile Board, developed and presides over the only Juvenile Gang Court in Texas.

Judge Devlin also served on the bench in Spring Valley, Texas.

Attorney Good makes the best candidate choice because of his desire to create an even playing field for those who are less fortunate. He wants to make the Harris County Public Defenders Office more accessible and have better resources. He will make sure lawyers are not making excessive and fraudulent billable hours with CPS, by making the case go to trial by 12-18 months. Good wants to get rid of the pay to play system and even it out for all litigants that come before the 313th bench.

Bobby Seale, Co-Founder and Chairman of Black Panther Party talks history, progression 48 years later

Stephen Edwards, Chairman Bobby Seale, Jonina Abron Irvin  (standing) Kofi Taharka of NBUF
Stephen Edwards, Chairman Bobby Seale, Jonina Abron Irvin (standing) Kofi Taharka of NBUF

Black leather, big, beautiful, perfectly molded afros and strong Black men and women carrying huge Dirty Harry style guns is the impression that comes to mind when hearing the co- founder of the Black Panther Party is in Houston for the 48th annual anniversary of the organization.

Instead, three members, Co- Founder/Chairman Bobby Seale, Stephen Edwards of the Houston Chapter and Jonina Abron Irvin, the former Editor of the Black Panther Party Newspaper, who looked like normal grandparents sat before the press with bounds and bounds of stories and memories that were as captivating as an story grandma or grandpa could ever tell.

In 1966, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton recognized the disparities in the Black community of Oakland, California and the blatant racism. They grew tired but not weary. Instead of continuing to grumble they put their brains and muscle together to form one of the most influential and memorable organizations in the history of America.

Seale created a 10- point platform on the need for freedom and as a war on poverty. The party was formed on his birthday October 22, 1966. In the mid 60’s the country was amidst turbulent fighting for human civil rights and the anti-Vietnam movement, when a young Black college student with an aerospace engineering job inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quit his job and began organizing for youth jobs in North Richmond.

Soon a small group of men began to meet and to learn the law. Memorizing and understanding the law was the niche that made the Black Panthers so dangerous because they knew what could and couldn’t be done under the law and they could stand on it. They began patrolling the police. They would stand the mandated distance away with their weapons and tape recorders observing their actions.

“The police jumps up to tell us you have no right to observe us and Huey began to state the law. The looked around like what kind of negroes are they,” said Seale?

By Huey Newton, the Minister of Defense, knowing the law, they captured the attention of the police and the people.

“The first year we had 50 members. We had people like Eldridge Cleaver and his wife Kathleen by May of 1967,” said Seale. “In the early days the Black Panthers were for self defense and even women wanted to join and carry guns.”

Seale believed to really create change Blacks had to be elected into “power seats”. In the 60’s when the Black Power phrase was popular there were 50 Blacks in office across America, said Seale. The only way to change the racist laws was to be in some type of position of power to create legislation.

Changing legislation was exactly what happened but not for the party. Politicians began to change the laws where they stopped the Panthers from carrying weapons.

“We were rising up and resisting,” said Seale. “They made the Jim Crow laws and it had to be enforced. Its one thing to holler Black Power this and that but power comes from the ability to make phenomena act is a desired manner. They will kill you and murder you about taking that power.”

The Panthers did amazing work within California that began to spread in Black communities all over the country. The breakfast program started and community support systems were flourishing.

“The reasons schools have free breakfast programs now is because of us,” said Jonina Abron Irvin, Former Editor of the Black Panther Newspaper. “J. Edgar Hoover called the program a threat. He understood the power of feeding hungry children.”

The next phase was to apply the original intent, which was to get the proper legislation passed. They tried to get referendums passed in three cities, Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco. San Francisco was the only city that received enough votes to get the Police Patrol Referendum on the ballot. It allowed for 3-5 community members who were duly elected to review and investigate police complaints.

The party began to dissolve by 1974 and Seale resigned from his seat as chairman. Political organizing mistakes, central community framework and mistakenly breaking down of chapters allowed for the dissolution of the Panthers after close to 10 years of service.

Seale passed down advice to the younger Black community that they should continue to run for political office.

“In 1960 there were 500,000 seats we (Blacks) could be elected to and we only had 50,” said Seale. “We couldn’t vote and it had to be changed and it was the reason we started the Black Panther Party. Now we have the Black Caucus and 42 power seats, we must keep those seat, its power.”

Seale went on to say that people don’t need guns in this day and age. They just need video cameras and an organizing mind and spirit. If the political seats can be gained and the community takes over the local government then a community can gain real control.

The Black Panther Party will celebrate their 48th Anniversary at the Communication Workers of America (CWA) Hall in downtown Houston on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Community protest the programming at Jack Yates High and new Energy Institute

The rain did not stop Jack Yates High alumni from gathering outside the front gates of the prized school to protest the building of a new Energy Institute in the community and the lack of programming within the school.

The band lacks uniforms, the school of communication is nearly non existent, cosmetology has been removed and so on and so on the list goes inside Yates. The heavily involved alumni association has had enough and gathered in protest before a development meeting with School Board Trustee Paula Harris.

Below is footage of the rally.

Alumni Gary Monroe is speaking.

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