My day in Orange

Published 10:44 am Monday, July 23, 2018

By Dayna Steele

Less than four months away from the general election, my days are spent on the phone with supporters, studying the issues, and my favorite part – getting out of the office and spending time in this massive congressional district, that stretches from the area around the Johnson Space Center south of Houston, across I-10 to Orange, up to Newton, and back over to Livingston.

On my most recent trip to Orange, I began the day with Father Sinclair at St. Francis Catholic Church. His family has lived in the area for generations, and he understands the importance of the Texas Gulf Coast’s maritime community. I’ll be back to spend more time with him, and Father Sinclair should be a mandatory stop for all candidates running in Southeast Texas.

Next, I met with Bobby Tingle, publisher of The Orange Leader. We had a great, long conversation about everything from Harvey, immigration and education, to internet access in the area. Of course, the conversation eventually shifted to the state of newspapers these days, and the fact that most candidates don’t even bother to drop by papers anymore, even though they are a wealth of information about the issues affecting the cities and towns they cover.

We agreed on some things, disagreed on others, laughed, and, most importantly, listened to each other. To wrap up our conversation, I suggested a public debate with the incumbent, Brian Babin, towards late September in Orange County.

Before lunch, I stopped by the Orange African American Museum to see Henry Lowe, the museum’s president. Henry has become a favorite person of mine over the last year; he has a vast knowledge of the community and needs a permanent space for his collection – which continues to grow despite Hurricane Harvey flooding the building last August.

Then, we headed to Bluebird’s Bait Camp for lunch with Henry and the restaurant’s owner, Oscar LeBlanc. Also joining us was Margaret Toal from KOGT 1600 AM, and half a dozen community members to talk about the most important issues facing Orange County. Harvey recovery and what we can do to prevent future flooding was at the forefront of the conversation. Another topic we discussed was access to healthcare, and the serious need for a quality hospital in Orange County. This was all while Oscar served me a fried fish platter the size of my head, and onion strings I’ll dream of for weeks to come.

We ended the day with coffee and cake balls (which are to die for) at Elements in Bridge City. There, we had another chance to visit with residents about Harvey recovery – or lack thereof. Our family took 29 inches in the house during the storm, and we were some of the lucky ones. Not long after Harvey, I came to Orange to see the destruction for myself. Almost a year later, I still see debris piles, gutted homes and businesses, and people desperate to get their lives back together.

I think back to a question from the publisher, Bobby Tingle: Why you instead of the incumbent, Brian Babin?

As with any successful organization or business, you have to build a network of people to get things done. You might not always agree 100% with everyone, but you have to start somewhere to succeed, and be willing to compromise in the name of the greater good. Brian Babin has no caucus, no coalition, and no network to work with on Capitol Hill; Babin even quit the Freedom Caucus. If Babin has so much trouble finding partners in Congress, how can we expect him to deliver badly needed Harvey recovery funds to the deserving people of Southeast Texas?

Let us know what you need from your congressional representative. Reach out, tell us who we need to meet, and where we need to go, because we’ll be back soon, and often.


Dayna Steele is the Democratic candidate for Texas Congressional District 36 which includes Orange, Chambers, Newton, Jasper, Tyler, Polk, Hardin, Liberty, and part of southeast Harris Counties. She’s been a successful entrepreneur, motivational business speaker, author of eight books, and is in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame for her years as one of the top female radio personalities in the country. She lives in Seabrook, Texas with her retired NASA pilot husband Charles Justiz and has three grown sons. You can learn more about Dayna at and reach her at