VIDEO: Council candidates participate in forum

Published 8:52 am Monday, April 15, 2019


By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader


Thursday night Orange residents had an opportunity to hear from the candidates for Orange City Council Spots up for grabs in the General Election on May 4, 2019.

After a few words by Mayor Larry Spears Jr., the candidates for Orange City Council for Position 4 and Position 5 at Large were each asked three questions by moderator David Derosier.

City Councilman Brad Childs, who ran unopposed for his seat spoke briefly talking about moving Orange forward and that no one builds something to see it collapse. He sees a bright future for the city.

We will list the three questions and the answers by the candidates. To keep it as simple as possible, we will group the questions by the candidate.

Please note, for each of the candidate’s names in the questions section, you can click and be taken to their editorial to the Orange Leader. 

District 4 Seat

  • Annette Carson-Pernell*
  • Mary McKenna
  • Alan E. Mesecher



Annette Carson-Pernell


Question 1: What is more important, brining in new homes and businesses, or rehabbing our existing homes and storefronts?


Pernell: To be honest, you cannot answer either or, you have to blend the two together. We have a lot of beautiful homes in the Historic District. I say that because that is where I am, the historic district, and we have lots of homes that need to be rehabbed and lived in.

We need to find ways to attract people to buy and move into these rehabbed homes. These homes being occupied would bring a lot of revenue to the city.

As far as expansion, we have a lot of vacant lots, so we need to find ways to utilize these vacant lots. That is a problem in the city of Orange is grappling with, we currently have more vacant lots than we have lots with homes on them.

The existing storefronts? We have to find a way to attract businesses to open up there.


Question 2: If you could change one thing on our building codes, what would it be? And Why?


Pernell: If I were to change one thing, it would be enforce the codes. Let’s utilize the codes we have in place and get out there and work. Code enforcement is not seen in our neighborhoods like it should.

There has to be a way to enforce the codes that we already have in place to work. I would like to a more presence by our police department.

I don’t see them out in my neighborhood, but I see them sitting out on 10th street because there is a lot of speeders.

I would like to see, basically, utilize the code.


Question 3: Do you see our public transportation as adequate? If so, what can we do to correct it?


Pernell: We looked at the idea of public busses a couple years ago, but we do not have enough money to buy and operate them in the city budget.

Right now, we need to find way to attract people to ride for Uber.

A year ago, I had to arrange transportation for my disabled brother, and I found out that the County busses require a 24 hour in advance call.

We need to attract someone to open and operate an affordable local taxi.


Mary McKenna

Question 1: What are your top three priorities for small business in Orange?


McKenna:  My top three priorities for small business are kinda selfish, because I run a small business, and I know very well the duty of a hospital because I run a hospice and I am still here. I am still doing my business. It would be nice to take my dying people to a local hospital for their needs.

We need a hospital. Once of the other things, Orange is about to explode like crazy and that puts small business in a unique role. We are in the community, we are the community, we know the community. Network with small business, get the Chamber involved. Another thing, the EDC has been a remarkable thing for local growth.

I really applaud the EDC for what it has done and what it can do in the future.


Question 2: How do you feel about the transportation availability in the City of Orange? Do we have enough? If not, what would you do to improve it?


McKenna: I will start by saying that we need more transportation opportunities in our community.

We have the transportation system with the county that has the white vans with the green lettering on the side, it is wheelchair accessible, and the county runs it very well.

But we do not have a taxi service in town that I am aware of, unless one came to town that I am not aware of Uber being here.

Downtown we have railroad tracks, perhaps bring in a trolley for that, or the wheeled ones that would go around town.

But, I think we need more options.


Question 3: What sort of amenities, such as the recreation center, swimming pool, dog park, or bicycle path would you support?


McKenna: I am all about families. To build stronger families and community unity, we need places for families to get together and to bond and come together.

My dog died about a year ago, but before that I would walk her all around Lamar. I think it is wonderful that things are going on with the natatorium and a sports complex

We do have a wonderful library, but lets get new things here to do for families.


Alan E. Mesecher

Question 1: What is one major thing you will address if elected to city council?


Mesecher: I will address the quality of life. That means that we need a hospital.  The cleanliness. We have a lot of people coming into the city, and the first thing they see will give them an impression of the rest of the city.

That means entertainment. I would like to see a movie theater back here in Orange. People are currently having to go to Beaumont or Lake Charles. There is industry moving to the area, and they are asking what do we have for their executives, for their new people coming to town

If we don’t have something, people are going to be going to other areas. Sports would be a great asset here in Orange. The parks, if there were more activities in the parks or bicycle paths we would see an improvement in the quality of life here.

The housing. There needs to be a lot more code enforcement here. There are a lot of houses out of code or empty lots that need to be addressed. They need to be repaired or taken down. We need new homes. Rents are a premium. People approach me everyday seeing if I have something available or know of something.


Question 2: Litter has been a hot topic in Orange lately, what do you think can be done to combat it?


Mesecher: I think education is a big thing. I think that somehow community service needs to be added to their school record.

We need more awareness, maybe large orange colored trash cans or waste barrels along the streets or store fronts  And encouraging people to call code enforcement when they see illegal dumping. I do this and I get good results.

If we need more code enforcement, then expand the number of workers. Utilizing the inmates, working with the County Jail to use inmates in beautification.


Question 3: What thoughts do you have if any, do you have towards the appearance of the city?


Mesecher: On 16th Street, I would favor ordinances on sign sizes, I think there are already some, but more uniform. Trees along some of the roads, and definitely more lighting. There are blind spots where people have been hit or killed.

Definitely more resurfacing. There are people who come to Shangra-La and other areas and what they see of those areas gives them an idea of the rest of the city.

At-Large Seat 5

  • David Bailey
  • Caroline Mazzola Hennigan
  • Charles Ray Thomas
  • Bill Mello* (not present for health reasons)
  • *incumbent

David Bailey

Question 1: What do you believe to be the top 3 pressing concerns for the community you want to represent?


Bailey:  First of all, I think economic development to be a top priority. Next thing I see is infrastructure in downtown Orange, we have needed it for years. The City Ordinance Board should be in a position to address this in the coming years. Finally we need to work on our community. It is not about I, me, or mine, it is about us. I believe I have the experience and the background. I love my town and city, and want to serve.


Question 2: How can you ensure that working class people can still afford to buy a home here?


Bailey: First of all, there are still a lot of working class families that have still not recovered from Harvey. For them we need to bring in and work with the federal government to bring in aid for the ones that cannot afford to get back into their homes.

At some point we seem to forget about the little man, but at one point all of us were the little man.

We are now talking about brining in a new plant. There are not enough homes to house the people that will be building that plant. There are not enough homes to house those that will be working at the plant when it is built.

The community as a whole, and especially the council needs to find ways to make sure there is enough housing.


Question 3: Are you satisfied with our currently public safety? If not, what would you do to improve it.


Bailey: No one, from the Police Chief on down should ever be satisfied. There are always programs or techniques that can be used to improve public safety. They need to be looked at and used if they work.

During my years in law enforcement, I was never satisfied with what we were doing because I knew that we could always be doing something better.

My son is a cop, I was a cop for a long time. We need to be proactive. From the top on down, we should always be looking to improve.

Police have two jobs – to enforce the law and be available to help those in need.

Caroline Mazzola Hennigan

Question 1:  What are your top three goals for the city of Orange.


Henningan: I have been listening to people. And the one thing that people have said to me is one thing – drainage and more drainage. I know that the city and county are already working on the problem. I have heard about the Cooper’s Gully project and other projects across the city. But, if you are like me and had water in your house from Harvey, you want it citywide. That would be my number one project, to continue the projects the city has already started.

Second, Orange in on the verge of a boom. There is already good industry that is here, and there is good industry that wants to come here. There is so much ppportunity, it is an exciting time to be in Orange. I want to be a part of it.

Third, I am very happy about the family amenities we are adding to our city. A sports complex, I have six grandchildren, four of them who live here and I want to be able to have a place to take them.


Question 2: Do you think our litter laws should be enforced more than they are now? And if so how?


Hennigan: I want to say that I think that our law enforcement in Orange does a fantastic job, and they cannot be everywhere. As a member of the city council, they have my full support.

For those that are littering, I think they are failing in two areas. Education and Pride.

As a teacher with 20 years experience, I know how to reach out and educate the public on this. And as the residents of the community see a vibrant new community, one that they can be a part of, they will start to take pride in their city,

I am very proud of being from Orange. I was born here. Graduated from West Orange-Stark, did my first two years of College here before graduating from Lamar University,


Question 3: What importance do you put into beautification in our city and at its gateways?


Hennigan: I think this question goes nicely with my last question and education.

I think that our gateways need special attention. We need to have gateways on the interstate that make people want to stop and shop, or stay.

To see our city, in all its world class culture and small town charm.

So, keeping it beautiful is of the utmost importance



Charles Ray Thomas

 Question 1: What policies, procedures, or Ordinances do you think should be changed in Orange? What would be your top priority?


Thomas: The first thing would be to reach out and see what the people want. Until we see what they want, we should not make any changes. I would see the problems with the drainage, with the infrastructure, and the jobs.

Jobs are my number one priority.

There are young people here that are not working, and for me that would be something I would go at hard. I will listen to see what it is that I can do to make a difference in this city, a city that I was born in, that I grew up in. And I see that jobs are coming, but we have young men and young women from here, they are not working.

Let’s get some jobs here. We have to do a job training.

Speaking of priorities, I was born in Orange Memorial. I would lobby someway, some how to get that hospital back open. I also want to create an Oversight Committee and Precinct Captains. The captains would look at their precincts and report back to the oversight committee.


Question 2: Do you think 16th Street is healthy? If not, what can be done to improve it?


Thomas: I think that 16th Street is healthier than ever before. You see new business coming in. You see that it is cleaner; you see the pavement looks good. I would like to see more business down 16th Street, maybe a Dunkin’ Donuts. We need to do something different, maybe a different style of lights with the name on it, something that is unique that would bring more attention and eye catcher when you are driving down 16th street.

It is one of our main streets off the interstate; I would like to see some type of sign at the exit attracting people on the highway to stop. A sign that says “Welcome to Orange Texas, The Fruit City.”


Question 3:  What do you think is one thing that you can bring jobs to the City?


Thomas: One thing is that if you look around, you see that something big and amazing is about to take place in the City of Orange and I want to be part of it. One thing I would say is you need to be part of the solution. You need to tell your friends, you family members to come out to the city council meetings and let us know what you need of in the city.

I know that in my house, I have to run the shower a few minutes to get rid of the brown water. My wife pointed it out. Many calls have been made, let’s find out what is going wrong and find ways to solve it.

We have to get involved, infrastructure is all around us; building is all around us.

All around us, we see jobs, but they are taken as soon as they are posted.

This is our city, why should we see a contractor come in when there are people who do not have a job, their sons or daughters do not have a job, their families don’t have a job?

We need to get together, bring Orange to a new level.

Like I said, together, we can make a difference.