PEOPLE ON THE COVER: Judge Kelli Johnson of the 178th Criminal District Court in Harris County, Steve Harvey, President Donald Trump, Former President of the United States Barack Obama, Former first lady of the United States Michelle Obama, and two daughters Malia and Sasha, their two dogs Sunny and Bo, are picture on this cover of Houston Business Connections Magazine along with Jimmy and Cheryl Coleman, owners of Greater Houston Consulting and Tax Services, Inc. located at: 12606 Hillcroft at South Main, Houston, Texas 77035. Call Greater Houston Consulting and Tax Services, Inc at (713)723-2005 to schedule an appointment today. Houston Business Connections Magazine is published by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications. Call (832)212-8735 for more information. All Rights Reserved.



Monday, August 25, 2014

ELECTION UPDATE: Early voting will begin in 55 days from today on Monday, October 20, 2014 in Harris County, Texas



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“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” -- Abraham Lincoln

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS EDITION


MESSAGE FROM AUBREY R. TAYLOR: You know, your dream is dependent upon people. So don’t forget that God uses people to accomplish works He's preordained. For God instructed David (His anointed King) to go out and defeat Goliath (the giant) who was taunting His people. He instructed the widow woman to feed Elijah (His anointed) when she (and her son) seeming had nothing for themselves. God even allowed for a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln the first Republican President (1861–1865) to rise to the presidency and release us (African Americans) from slavery in 1863. So don't get it twisted. Keep an open mind. For God could be preparing to use the very person or persons you least expect to elevate you (or us) to the next level of His plan for our nation. Be blessed today!

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HERE ARE THOUGHTS FROM A FEW OF OUR "THOUGHT LEADERS" WHO RECENTLY TOOK THE TIME TO SHARE THEIR INSIGHTS ON FREEDOM AND WHY THEY'RE PROUD TO BE AMERICAN.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Can you share your thoughts on what freedom means to you, and why you’re proud to be an American with our readers?

HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE ED EMMETT: As a boy, I lived in East Texas. The son of an oil field worker and a housewife, I was the first in my family to graduate from college.

As a grown man, I have had the privilege of holding elected and appointed offices, and I have traveled the world. As I saw the world, I reflected upon my growth and realized that the one factor most responsible for my success was being born an American. The United States of America provides the fertile ground from which an East Texas boy can become educated and play on the world stage.

And if the United States provides the fertile ground for accomplishment and progress, it is the freedom given to each individual that nurtures their growth.

Every day, I am grateful that I was born an American.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

HARRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN LANE LEWIS: This is a unique time to reflect upon what it means to be an American. With conflict happening across the globe, I am reminded of my American pride and patriotism every evening on the nightly news. These images stir great emotion and make me proud of the freedoms we enjoy every day, many of which we take for granted.

Media coverage today is dominated with images of people even younger than our US service men and women. Hundreds and thousands of Central American children are coming across the southern border escaping the horrors of their homeland, creating a humanitarian crisis unseen in the history of our state and nation. Sadly, those children are being greeted as criminals by Republicans and the far right, which is in stark contrast to the immigrants who were greeted and welcomed when they arrived at Ellis Island from primarily European countries to the US from 1892 to 1954. Those children, too, remind me of my fortune and gratitude to be an American and to have the freedoms that we enjoy.

Freedom for American women had its symbolic birth in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, where an all-woman’s assembly was held to outline and detail a plan for women’s rights. Over the subsequent 166 years, women’s freedom has vastly expanded - most notably gaining the right to vote in 1920 by passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Racial and ethnic minorities have faced an arduous climb. For African-Americans, robbed of their freedom in their native land and brought to American shores in chains by slave ships, the march continues. Strength and perseverance against brutal opposition took them from 3/5ths Citizens, through Jim Crow and segregation; pass both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in 1964 and 1965, respectively, to the White House upon President Obama’s historic election in 2008.

Latinos still labor to find the freedom that eludes them in America today. Republican and conservative leaders have pushed for and passed egregiously racist laws in states like Arizona, and stood in the way of sensible, fair immigration reform legislation that as CNN notes: “would have helped immigrant families become more economically stable. Those parents, in turn, would have more money to send back home which, as a result, would help eliminate the type of poverty affected kids experience.”

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

HARRIS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN LANE LEWIS: For its citizens and new immigrants, America remains the Land of the Free. I love this nation and celebrate its birth, not just on the Fourth of July, but every day that I am blessed to wake up as a citizen of the United States. I am thankful to all those who fought and died – and those that continue to do so today – so that I may enjoy all the freedoms this country provides. Their service reminds me that freedom is not something that is obtained and held static, but something that must be fought for and advocated for in the lives of each and every one of us. As President Lincoln said in his address at Gettysburg referring to those who had perished there: “It is for us, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is for us that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE BERT RICHARDSON: I was raised in a military family and understand firsthand the sacrifices that others have made so as citizens of this State & Country we enjoy freedoms in many aspects of our lives that others throughout the world do not have. At an early age my uncle (my father’s brother) was killed in a crash of a F-106 USAF fighter jet. Not long after that my father left for Vietnam and flew over 160 missions as a fighter pilot. During that year many of his fellow pilots did not return home from that war. I knew several of the children from those families. My brother recently retired from the USAF and is a veteran of over 300 air missions in the Middle-east conflicts with the Special Ops Squadrons. I have heard many stories of those brave soldiers he protected during his flights. Without such sacrifices throughout our Country’s history, we as American citizens would not enjoy the blessings to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, or enjoy the many benefits and opportunities offered in our country to better ourselves through education, hard work and to support our families. I have lived overseas for over 10 years and am painfully aware of the fact that others do not have these great opportunities available to them. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE BERT RICHARDSON: I am proud to be American because of the many opportunities we are afforded as citizens of this great country in so many different ways. To the person who is willing to work hard, obtain an education, the opportunities are limitless. These are opportunities not readily available in other parts of the world. While my father had a successful military career, he and my mother both started their own business in the fine art industry after that career and have one of the most successful fine art galleries in San Antonio. My parents made sure that each of their children obtained college degrees geared towards helping us gain employment and support our families. These are blessings many take for granted, but given my occupation as a former State and federal prosecutor and judge, I am constantly aware that others would risk their lives to come to this country just to have those advantages. 

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Christine Butts was raised in Houston and graduated from Westfield High School. While in high school, she worked with her father, a probate lawyer, in his small law firm. She went on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of business administration degree. Soon after college, she married Donald Butts and studied law at the University of Houston. After graduating from law school, Christine joined her father's boutique estate planning and probate firm. Serving clients in a private practice has enabled her to learn a great deal about probate, guardianship, and mental health issues. More importantly, private practice has given her a balanced perspective and a view into how these issues impact families. Click here for more information on Judge Christine Riddle Butts. Don't forget that Judge Butts is asking for your vote on Election Day.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE LOYD WRIGHT: Any discussion of freedom begins with paying homage to the brave men and women who fought and died to preserve our freedom and liberate others from tyranny and oppression around the world. These courageous men and women selflessly gave life and limb for country and freedom. The best way to honor them is for us to preserve and protect the very freedoms and values for which they so willingly gave everything.

In simplest terms, freedom means the right to live as we choose so long as we don't hurt others or their property. It means the right to make our own decisions knowing that the consequences of those decisions are ours alone. The exercise of our freedoms ideally contemplates every individual’s inner struggle to be their "better self", to listen to the "better angels of our nature”. While in our imperfect world this does not always occur, we realize that living in a free society is worth the cost. What meaning would life have without the freedom to chart our own destiny and to live as we choose? As Ben Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

One of my favorite movies is "The Alamo" where John Wayne (as Davy Crockett) makes the following speech: "……When I come down here to Texas, I was looking for something. I didn’t know what. Seems like you added up my life and I spent it all either stomping other men or, in some cases, getting stomped. Had me some money and had me some medals. But none of it seemed a lifetime worth of the pain of the mother that bore me. It was like I was empty. Well, I’m not empty anymore. That’s what’s important, to feel useful in this old world, to hit a lick against what’s wrong or to say a word for what’s right even though you get walloped for saying that word. Now I may sound like a Bible beater yelling up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting, but that don’t change the truth none. There’s right and there’s wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you’re living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but you’re dead as a beaver hat."

Now I know Davy didn't make that speech, but the inspiring words remind me of the struggle for freedom and the rugged individualism that defined this country and the great State of Texas. They describe the ideal of how to exercise our freedoms - to always strive to "do the right thing". They embody a spirit in this country I hope we never lose. We must be ever vigilant in protecting our freedoms. As Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE LOYD WRIGHT: I am proud to be an American because I believe in the goodness and greatness of America. Alexis De Tocqueville said, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there.... in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there....in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there.... in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." De Tocqueville also said, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” The concepts behind this ability to repair her faults are primarily contained in three documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These revered documents, along with a historically Judeo-Christian philosophy, continue to provide the foundation for America to be the greatest force for good the world has ever known.

Rush Limbaugh defines what he refers to as American greatness as follows: “American Exceptionalism and greatness means that America is special because it is different from all other countries in history…..It does not mean that we Americans are better than anyone else. It does not mean that there is something uniquely different about us as human beings compared to other people in the world. It does not mean that we as a country have never faced problems of our own…..Our country is the first country ever to be founded on the principle that all human beings are created as free people. The Founders of this phenomenal country believed all people were born to be free as individuals. And so, they established a government and leadership that recognized and established this for the first time ever in the world….. The sad reality is that since the beginning of time, most citizens of the world have not been free. For hundreds and thousands of years, many people in other civilizations and countries were servants to their kings, leaders, and government. It didn't matter how hard these people worked to improve their lives, because their lives were not their own…..[America] is a land built on true freedom and individual liberty……The role of the United States is to encourage individuals to be the best that they can be, to try to improve their lives, reach their goals, and make their dreams come true.”

I believe the greatness of America also lies in the American “melting pot” where people of all races and ethnicities join and embrace the “American” culture, a culture not governed by race or ethnicity, but by initiative, hard work, personal responsibility, individuality combined with humility, and an understanding that, while we are all in this together, most of what happens in our lives is up to each of us.

I am proud to be an American because time and time again, America has sacrificed its blood and treasure to expand freedom and fight tyranny around the world. Colin Powell said, “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.”

I am proud to be an American because of our system of free enterprise where any man or woman can go from rags to riches in the blink of an eye. More often, though, it is the long-term commitment to hard work and sacrifice that leads to a better life - to the "American Dream". There is no other country that offers the limitless opportunities of America and it is always inspiring to see the multitude of ways one can be successful. This could only happen in a free society.

I am proud to be an American because we are the most generous country in the history of the world. Whether it is the charitable giving of its citizens or the foreign aid given around the world, America has always come to the aid of those in need. America has always made the effort and sacrifice to be a positive force for democracy, freedom and good around the world.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

NANCY SIMS: Freedom is a precious word that must be treasured deeply. For many citizens of the world, it means the chance to leave free of dictatorship and controlling governance. For many Americans, it is reflected in our core values of democracy and the right to freely choose our leaders. Beyond that, it means so many different things to so many different people. For me, freedom means the right to live in a society governed by its citizens. Sadly, I fear that this most basic tenet of our society is at risk. It may be at risk primarily because the citizens are in default. My greatest hope for our freedom is that people take ownership of their government back and engage in reasonable and rational debate.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are your proud to be an American?

NANCY SIMS: I am most proud to be an American when I think of our military and their commitment to protecting our freedoms. I am proud when I see our flag flying or hear voices raised in unison singing our national anthem and I am most proud when election day comes and voters cast their ballots to protect and engage in our democracy.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

STATE REP. GARY ELKINS: Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Therefore our first amendment to the U.S. constitution is the foundation of our political and religious freedom. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Ayn Rand said, “Intellectual Freedom cannot exist without political freedom; Political Freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; A free mind and a free market are corollaries”.

I believe that it is necessary for people to know my world view because our world view is what defines our beliefs about Freedom.

I possess a Judeo-Christian world view. I believe like our founding fathers that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights that come from God and not the State. So my world view is that our rights are granted to us by God Almighty, and not the state (i.e. government). 

I believe that men should be free to make good decisions and bad decisions without interference from government. In today’s political environment, government tries to protect people from their bad decisions. In a free society, men who make bad decisions will suffer the consequences of those decisions and hopefully learn from them and not repeat them. When government interferes and tries to keep people from suffering the consequences of their bad decisions, then they never learn from their mistakes. Click here to read the entire statement from State Rep. Gary Elkins.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

KEVIN PATRICK YEARY: Freedom is the power to act according to one's own judgment. It carries with it the duty to be responsible for one's own actions. It includes the ability to seek one's own path in life, the right to choose the good or the bad, and the ability to prosper or fail. It requires the will to accept consequences, be they good or bad. Real freedom, understood properly and exercised appropriately, leads people to a sense of gratitude and to a spirit of charity and joy. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

KEVIN PATRICK YEARY: I am proud to be an American because no other country in the history of the world has secured more freedom for more men and women on the planet than America. I believe that because America secures freedom, it generates blessings for its own people and for all the people of the world. So many examples are apparent: the rejection and defeat of slavery and racial segregation in this country, the expansion of the vote to all citizens who have achieved the age of 18, the many examples of America's liberation of other nations from tyranny, the interstate highway system, the creation and maintenance of many of the worlds’ greatest institutions of learning, the birth and growth of commercial airline transportation, our successes in our efforts to explore the universe beyond our own planet, the advance of life saving medical technology, tools, and medicines, the volunteer military that is unparalleled in the history of the world, the peaceful coexistence of a diverse population, the fact that what is known as poverty in America could pass for wealth in so many other nations in the world. I could go on and on. America's greatness is a product of her commitment to freedom rightly understood and appropriately exercised. As freedom expands, so does opportunity and justice. When freedom contracts, both opportunity and justice diminish. America exists to serve the cause of freedom, and that makes me proud of my country.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUDGE KYLE CARTER: We are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom is the ability to exercise those rights. However, this freedom is not something that just happens. Our forefathers made it possible for us to experience the American dream of freedom and we must, as part of our generational duty continue to fight against those who would take our freedoms away and to ensure opportunity exists for all Americans. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt aptly stated "In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE KYLE CARTER: I am proud to be an American because we live in the greatest country on earth. Our opportunity, diversity, individual liberty and collective spirit are unparalleled. As the son of a veteran, I am particularly proud of the sacrifices made by those who have fought to protect it. 

We have built the largest economy the world has ever known; we have used our great power and wealth to help others; we continually challenge ourselves to expand the notion of what is possible and innovate; we embrace the rich diversity of our population; and we have never met a stranger. 

I am proud to be an American because throughout our history, we have been willing to confront injustice, at home and abroad, and work to make it right. We celebrate our frontier spirit, that prizes individual freedom, and at the same time look after our neighbors. 

After all, America is the first county to put a man on the moon. One only needs to look up into the night sky for a reminder of the great things that we can accomplish. Together Americans have accomplished so much while recognizing a responsibility to stand up for those in need. As each new generation presents new challenges, I am proud to be part of a country that will overcome any obstacle while ensuring the preservation of the American way of life.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

GLENN HEGAR: Freedom is anyone’s opportunity to achieve their goals without fear of an oppressive government standing in their way. It’s the idea that you get to choose how to run your business, what religion to practice, what moral guidelines you want your children to follow, and many other personal decisions that government shouldn’t be regulating. It is about living in a society without over-burdensome and forced government mandates that try to dictate the details of daily life and instead is when an individual is the sole arbiter of their decisions.

In Texas, we have shown that the more liberty, or freedom, you give the people, the more likely they are to achieve success. This is why Texas continues to lead the nation in fastest growing cities and job growth. As Americans, we are given the privilege to follow our dreams and are allowed to do so without fear of an oppressive government holding us back.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

GLENN HEGAR: I am extremely proud of the millions of soldiers that have put their country before themselves, all in order to defend these fought after liberties. Not only have they protected our freedom, they have also fought to defend the safety and freedom of millions all around the world.

Our Founding Fathers ensured that everyone is entitled to unalienable rights given to them by God, and no one is allowed to infringe on these rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is because of this that I am proud to be an American and a Texan.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE GRANT DORFMAN: Freedom is the natural state of Man, gifted to us by God as a cornerstone of our covenant. Freedom allows us to explore and develop our God-given talent and to become whatever our ability and hard work can conspire to achieve. But like the covenant more generally, our inheritance of freedom entails responsibilities too. The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau famously wrote of his time that "Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains." As a public official, I try to be mindful always that government should be the servant of the people and never their master. I believe that is what our Founders intended, and the basis upon which they built our Constitution. And I believe that all of us have a special role and duty as citizens to police our government and ensure that it strives always to work within the limits imposed by the Constitution and our laws, so that Ronald Reagan's words remain true: "We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around."

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE GRANT DORFMAN: I am proud to be an American not just for the blessings of liberty that this birthright has afforded me. I am the grandson of an immigrant who came to this country with no property, no family and no connections, but who succeeded through hard work and ingenuity. It was this country that gave him that opportunity, regardless of cultural and language barriers and his commitment to a religion that was oppressed in his native land. And that story is far from unique in our country. I am proud to be an American because our exceptional country has always been generous with its freedom -- a shining City upon a hill that is a beacon to all freedom-loving peoples; and we have, at our best, endeavored to share and expand freedom to all the corners of the world, not to hoard it as our possession.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUDGE PATRICIA J. KERRIGAN: Freedom means our constitutionally protected right as Americans to choose how we work, live, worship, speak, provide for and protect our families. While true freedom is beyond what a government provides, the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans are a fundamental part of our Democracy. Just as important as our enjoyment and exercise of these rights is the responsibility each one of us bears to protect and save our freedoms for the next generation. Everyday as we look at world events, we are graphically shown how precious our freedoms truly are. Every time I seat a jury in the 190th District Court, I remind the jury members that around the world people are literally dying for the right they are exercising, that is the right to have a dispute decided by fellow citizens, rather than by a government or by the military. All of our freedoms are important in today's world and so must be our commitment to preserve them. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE PATRICIA J. KERRIGAN: I'm proud to be an American because as a people we continue to believe in our Constitution, live by our Constitution, and require our government to follow our Constitution. As Judge of the 190th District Court, my appreciation for and understanding of the importance of our Constitution is enhanced everyday as I participate in our civil justice system. As Thomas Jefferson said "I consider the trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government is held to the principles of its constitution." Our civil justice system is a remarkable system of which every American citizen can be proud. Is it perfect? Is America perfect? No, not yet. And the fact that we continue to strive for and demand improvement is part of what makes me proud to be an American.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE DAN HINDE: Freedom means opportunity—the opportunity to succeed, to chase your dreams, to find your calling and answer it, to live, to learn, and to grow, unencumbered by the shackles of class. It means we have the opportunity to rise to any height—President, Governor, CEO, star athlete, celebrity, community leader—regardless of your starting point in life. But freedom also means the opportunity to err and to fall short. 

Essentially, freedom gives us the opportunity to be Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena”—to strive valiantly, to do great deeds, and, yes, to fail. But to borrow again from Roosevelt, freedom means that we have the opportunity to fail while daring greatly, that we are not consigned forever to the fate of those “cold and timid souls” who know neither success nor failure. 

But as is often said, freedom is not free. We enjoy such great opportunity because of the hard work, dedication, blood, and sacrifice of so many men and women who preceded us, giving, as Lincoln said, the last full measure of devotion, so that we—their heirs—might enjoy the freedom they earned. In turn, we owe it our children to pass on this freedom so that they may enjoy the opportunity to dare greatly and reach for their dreams as well.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE DAN HINDE: No country, no nation in history was ever founded on an idea—not Athens, Rome, nor Egypt; not England, France, Germany, Russia, nor China. No nation was built on an idea, that is, until the United States declared its independence in 1776. And what an idea it was! All men are created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

My pride in America begins with that great conception of our nation, but it does not end there. The Framers wrote a Constitution to establish a national government designed to protect our freedom and liberty. Then, our nation fought a terrible civil war to preserve that then-radical form of government—government of the people, by the people, for the people—and to cleans it of the horrible stain of slavery.

But in the rebirth that President Lincoln described, our freedom and democratic manner of government nourished and nurtured a society that has advanced not only its own population but all of humankind beyond belief.

Our society developed an economy that has lifted millions out of poverty, hunger, and illiteracy, not only at home but abroad. Our country led the effort to vanquish the twin scourges of fascism and communism, giving the lie to the totalitarians’ pretensions to utopia.

The United States remains a shining beacon to the world—a safe harbor in times of difficulty and a light to guide the world. Our nation always—always—sends aid to countries suffering natural disasters, whether friend or foe. Our people generate new ideas in technology, industry, the arts, and music. We are what other countries strive to be.

And I am proud to be a citizen of such an amazing, sublime country. God has blessed America, and may God continue to do so!

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUDGE JEFF SHADWICK: Freedom is the right and power to act, but really freedom comes with a duty and responsibility to self and others. Freedom must be exercised and fought for by each generation to prevent a loss of freedom and slide into tyranny. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

JUDGE JEFF SHADWICK: I am proud to be an American because we are the only country, ever, to be founded upon an idea rather than geography or ethnicity. The idea is that all men are created equal; that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All anyone has to do is "buy in" to become an American. You cannot become French, or become Chinese, but you can become American. It is the origin of our country around an idea that makes this so. 

America is the greatest force for good in history. I am proud of that. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

NIKITA HARMON: No idea is more fundamental to me as an American and as an individual than freedom. Freedom means the power or right to act, speak, or think freely without governmental hindrance or restraint. It means that you can have your own opinion and that you can share that opinion with other people even if they don’t agree with you.

Freedom does not mean the absence of authority or the right to do whatever one pleased—far from it. However, it entails the privileges enumerated in the Bill of Rights—freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and religion.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

NIKITA HARMON: I am proud to be an American because freedom here is a reality unlike many foreign countries. I am proud to be an American because children are free to pursue their dreams, to celebrate their successes and to rise to try again when they fail. I am also proud because Americans have been able to maintain a free society in a time of terrorism and war. As an American, I have the freedom of choice whereas in other countries their people do not have the choices that we have as Americans.

American is a nation that believes in opportunity for all. One’s success isn’t always determined by the circumstances of one’s birth. In America, it is determined by each individual with the help of an American society that's committed to everyone succeeding.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

KIM OGG: Freedom is individual and societal independence from oppression.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

KIM OGG: I am proud to be an American because of our individual and societal independence.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE JAY KARAHAN: Freedom to me means the freedom to think for myself, to act upon those thoughts in a responsible way, to modify my thoughts with education, and the freedom to enjoy my "unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness." 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

JUDGE JAY KARAHAN: I am proud to be an American because, as a first generation American, I observed first-hand my immigrant father's struggle to seek and achieve the American Dream. To this day I marvel at my father's pride in his naturalized American citizenship. I marvel at his lifelong commitment to self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. I marvel at his patience in waiting for a visa to enter the U.S. to seek a better life for himself and to eventually become a responsible citizen. The U.S. gave my father the freedom to work as many jobs and as hard as he could or wanted to accumulate the knowledge and capital to start his own business. His enthusiastic patriotism despite the ignorance and bigotry he encountered along the way made him the successful man I'm so proud of. His sacrifices, hard work and enthusiasm - and that of all like him since the founding of our great nation - gave me the freedom to enjoy the blessings of life in the U.S. It is my responsibility now to honor that and to pay it forward.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

KIM BOHANNON HOESL: On first reading this question, I heard Janis Joplin singing, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." (“Me and Bobby McGee”). But that is not what I believe. My parents were both raised in segregated America, but they worked hard to overcome that history and to raise their children to view all people as equally entitled to pursue their dreams. They taught me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, even a pilot or a physicist, and that I did not have to be limited by my gender. Freedom, therefore, is not having nothing to lose, but having everything to gain. Freedom is being limited only by me, and not by the arbitrary or unfair restrictions of society, or religion, or government. That was the freedom our founding fathers sought and achieved here: the freedom to seek, and control, my own destiny, limited only by my own desires, beliefs, and conscience.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

KIM BOHANNON HOESL: There are so many reasons to be proud of my country, but the most important reason to me is the strength of what this country represents. My country, for all its problems and its internal conflicts, stands alone in the world’s history as the largest, most successful democracy ever. And that is no small feat. When you consider how small the original 13 colonies were geographically and how uniform in citizenry, and then compare that to the America of today with its expanse of geography and diversity, it is nothing short of amazing. From sea to shining sea, this country embraces an incredible diversity of landscapes, of climates, of economies, of cultural histories, of racial and ethnic variety. We have deserts and tropics, farmlands and dense urban cityscapes. We have ethnicities from around the globe. And yet, the vision of those original founding fathers has carried through this tremendous growth and transformation of our country, and our democracy continues to work today. What other land can lay claim to living through such extraordinary change and upheaval as the past 238 years has involved, and yet still maintain the freedom and the democratic process we began with? -- Only here, only in America. My country’s complete faith in its people, and in the democratic process, has survived what has destroyed many other nations. And I am exceedingly proud that my country continues to represent the best in democracy today.

I recently found myself explaining the significance of the Fourth of July to my 4-year old son. He is not quite able to grasp the concept of revolution and freedom. But he understands birthdays, and celebrations. As he grows, my husband and I have the humbling opportunity to teach him the values we hold dear as American citizens, and to watch the same love of country develop in him as we hold within ourselves.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

DIANE PEIRSON: To me, freedom is all about choice. We can choose to succeed or to fail, choose to support government or to oppose it. We can choose to fight against bad laws, or fight for good laws. We can work in our communities to better them, or we can raise a voice in dissent. These things are what make this country great. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

DIANE PEIRSON: I'm proud to be American because, while America has a shorter history than most, it is one of the richest, most diverse and colorful histories in the world. I could not imagine my youth in other countries. We traveled a lot and I went to many schools, I played with many different kids. I had it all, I had nothing and my family wouldn't have been able to do that anywhere else. I have the opportunity to give my time to my community now because of it.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

RAMONA FRANKLIN: Freedom reminds me of a beautifully handcrafted quilt. Each patch in the quilt symbolizes the uniqueness of one being permitted to live the way a person chooses to live without unlawful restraints. One patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom stands for one to live in the United States with the opportunity to lawfully speak his or her mind without being censored. Another patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom is the right of religion. The third patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom allows a woman the right to make decisions for her own body. The fourth patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom allows a law abiding citizen to live anywhere they desire to live. The fifth patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom is the ability to receive an education. The sixth patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom is the ability for one to think as one wants without constraints. The last patch that is crafted in the quilt of freedom is the right of choice. Freedom symbolizes the complete handcrafted quilt that has all of its unique and beautiful patches woven together. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

RAMONA FRANKLIN: I am proud to be an American because of the rights we are all afforded. As an American I have the right to vote and the right of religion. I do not take my right of religion for granted. So many other people in other countries do not have the right to worship their appointed gods. Here in America, I have the right to worship my God who provides for me and my family daily without any interference. I am proud to be an American because I am able to pursue my dreams, goals, desires and ambitions without restraints. I am proud to be an American because I am proud and honored to have the opportunity to be a Judicial Candidate for Harris County Criminal Court at Law # 5. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

PHILLIP WEBB: Freedom means being able to have my own opinion and being able to voice that opinion. Freedom means being able to worship God openly. Freedom means being able to openly support and elect local, state and national leaders. Freedom means to be able to disagree with those leaders. Freedom means being able to own my own home or land and having the right to protect my home and land from trespassers who intend to seize or steal my property or harm my family. 

We also have the right and freedom to gain knowledge and education. James Madison, the father of our Constitution and the 4th President of the United States once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.“ Knowledge is freedom. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

PHILLIP WEBB: The freedoms I described are contained within the United States Constitution. Nowhere in the world do you find such a document which prescribes a form of government that is by the people and for the people. Many men and women over our country’s brief history have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country, its form of government and way of life. You just can’t get that brand of devotion anywhere else. In the USA, we are free to have an idea, develop that idea, and profit from that idea. 

For enumerated reasons, including the freedoms we all enjoy, I love my country.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

SAM HOUSTON: Freedom is at the core of what it means to be an American -- it is a great gift and even greater responsibility. We protect our freedom at home and honor the men and women who protect our freedom abroad by acting with integrity and honesty. Our freedom, unique in all the world, is the result of men and women who ask themselves everyday "Is this the right thing to do?" Freedom is our greatest public trust -- and we must safeguard it by acting with honor and personal integrity. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

SAM HOUSTON: My pride in being an American comes from the place where I grew up -- the small West Texas town of Colorado City, about halfway between Midland and Abilene. In this little town, I learned the value of hard work in my family’s small hardware and auto parts store. Whether I was sweeping the floor or helping a customer assemble a bicycle, I learned to take pride in a job well done. I learned the value of small businesses to a community and I learned that successful businesses are built on trust. I had great role models -- men like my grandfather R.P. “Pete” Ainsworth, a rancher who once managed the Renderbrook Spade Ranch, and from my uncle Fred McClellan, a cotton farmer. These men taught me about respect, honor and integrity. I know now that what they were teaching me was how to be an American.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

DEBBIE FANCHER: Freedom means being able to make the choices that I feel are best for me and my family and that line up with my biblical beliefs. I was born in Venezuela which is now a socialist country so my passion runs deep to keep policies and tactics that led to its destruction away from this country. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

DEBBIE FANCHER: I’m proud to be an American because America is the greatest beacon of hope for the world! 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

COUNTY TREASURER ORLANDO SANCHEZ: Freedom means the liberty to live one's life in a country that, as a matter of law, protects our God given natural rights. As a refugee from communism, the USA means freedom for me. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

COUNTY TREASURER ORLANDO SANCHEZ: Because our country not only fights to preserve my freedom, but it fights to preserve other's freedom and promotes that concept around the world.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

CONTROLLER GREEN: On the most essential level, freedom is the intrinsic right to choose for yourself what you will do with your life. Within the confines of a society’s laws, an individual is free to pursue a chosen livelihood and personal pleasures such as marriage and volunteerism in the community. Freedom brings certain responsibilities, I think, such as participation in the affairs of one’s community, and it also may involve the duty to protect the freedom we are given through service to our country. One needs only to imagine living in a country or society where freedom is denied to realize what a hardship that would be. I am also mindful of the past, and the struggles that millions of Americans faced in gaining true freedom in our land, the cost they paid.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

CONTROLLER GREEN: People around the globe are envious of the enormous opportunities that most Americans have. I believe the greatest advantage we have is the ability to choose our leaders—and our history is rich with brilliant, humane and thoughtful leaders. Democracy is synonymous with America. I am personally proud that I have served my community through elected office. In the larger scheme, I am proud of the ingenuity that defines America: our industrial and commercial strengths, our medical and scientific breakthroughs, our arts and cultural geniuses. As an African-American, I take special pride in that heritage and the many individual accomplishments made to this country by those of my race who came before me.

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http://www.directlinkupload.com/uploads/172.56.15.170/Congressman%20Kevin%20Brady%20Interview%20With%20Aubrey%20R%20Taylor.mp3

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Congressman Brady, can you share your thoughts on freedom and what it means to you with our readers?

CONGRESSMAN KEVIN BRADY: Freedom is everything. But what Freedom will never be is free. Freedom is a precious gift that our veterans and our fallen have secured for us and continue to secure for us.

Being an American is about being free.

Martin Luther King, Junior said “we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.” He was so right that “a man can't ride you unless your back is bent.”

As Americans we must always stand proud and tall for freedom and against injustice. We must have faith to take the harder path with the greatest rewards. Being a servant leader will never be the easy path, but it is the most rewarding path.

Serving my constituents and my state in Washington, DC is an honor that I do not take lightly. It’s my duty to preserve freedom for all Americans. As Dr. King said “The time is always right to do what is right.” That time is now. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Congressman Brady, why are you proud to be an American?

CONGRESSMAN KEVIN BRADY: I first understood why I’m proud of being American from my mom. In 1967, my world changed when dad took on a difficult case for our local church. While helping an elderly woman escape an abusive marriage, we were repeatedly threatened. Mom even learned to use a gun, just in case. When the trial started, this angry man burst into the courtroom, killed his wife, killed my father and shot the judge – who thankfully lived. His actions left our mom to raise five children by herself – ages 14 to 3.

I tell you this because being an American is about making my fiercely independent and determined mother proud. She kept five kids on the straight and narrow with a good offense. She had us serving our community from morning to night. For me, it was Boy Scouts, altar boy at two churches, year-round sports and student government. In our community, if a club or activity existed, it was a good bet you’d find a Brady kid there.

She taught each of us to be independent, optimistic, to have faith in God and to give back. Everything I am. Everything I know about being an American, I owe my mom. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Do you have anything you would like to share with the readers of Houston Business Connections Magazine and potential voters in the 18th Congressional District of Texas?

SEAN SEIBERT: "My fellow Houstonians of District 18. I am seeking your support to be your reasonable voice in Congress. I will champion the causes that are important to you, my constituents. I’m listening to you, I will take your concerns forward, and I will fight for the causes that best serve you. I appreciate your support to become your advocate and leader in Washington.

I started his military career at the age of 19 by enlisting as a private in the Army. I spent several years enlisted before receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1987 while attending the University of Texas at Arlington.

Over my career I led our nation’s greatest resources, its sons and daughters, in numerous deployments (to include Guatemala, Bosnia, Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan)."

MORE ABOUT SEAN SEIBERT

In 2009 I was selected to join the 82d Airborne Division General Staff on their deployment to Afghanistan. Starting off as the lead planner for the Afghan National Police, whose stalwart performance was rated as immeasurable. The Commanding General selected Sean as his number one choice to lead the efforts at the key strategic board crossing in the Khyber Pass (where 80% of all NATO resources entered Afghanistan from Pakistan).

In this role Sean increased revenue by 203 Million Dollars, while improving commercial throughput from 17,000 to 22,000 per month. While leading the NATO effort on the border he facilitated regular discussions between the Afghan and Pakistani Government Officials.

Sean’s approach to the local Afghan community was one of constituents, where he regularly listened to their issues and negotiated with the Afghan Government and NATO to obtain what the people of the area needed and wanted. These efforts lead to job creation and economic growth in the area.

Raised in Texas, Sean is the eldest son of an immigrant mother (who became a U.S. Citizen in 1967) who instilled a multi-cultural view of the world and gave him the encouragement and confidence to be the first in the family to go to college obtaining a BA in Criminal Justice and furthering his education with a Masters in Organizational Management.

Sean Seibert is a fiscal conservative who believes in debt reduction and has a philosophy of pay as you go.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUSTICE KEN WISE: Freedom means the ability to achieve whatever you want and live however you want based on your own talent and willingness to work hard. The United States of America was founded on this ideal. Our founders desired a society with a very limited government designed only to protect the nation and foster the commerce that would help everyone succeed. Our founders wanted to avoid a big government, which restricts freedom. Our founders want to avoid oppressive and voluminous laws, which restrict freedom. I pray for a return to the idea that each of us can succeed if we respect each other, work hard and develop our talents. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

JUSTICE KEN WISE: I am proud to be an American but even more than that I am so grateful to God for being born an American. No other country in the world gives its citizens the freedom we enjoy. The freedom to worship as we choose, build a business, raise a family, and do it all without a government directing how it is to be done is a precious state of affairs. I am proud of my country and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a small part of her government. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

STATE REP. MARY ANN PEREZ: Freedom means something different to all of us, but for me—the definition is very clear. Freedom is the ability to adequately provide for my children, having the right to make my own choices, and being entrusted to hold leadership roles within my community. Freedom, to any individual, is a hard-sought goal and the ability to achieve it by whatever means necessary. Freedom is not found without struggle, determination and sacrifice but it is a fight that’s worthy of the journey. Freedom is having the capacity to enrich your community and be involved in the electoral process. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

STATE REP. MARY ANN PEREZ: I am proud to be an American because by being a citizen of this beautiful country, I have both witnessed and experienced the benefits of a thriving democracy. I am proud to not only be an American, but also to be a Texan and a Hispanic American. This nation, that embraces an assortment of cultures, has made me unbelievably proud to join alongside the rest of the country to encourage the equality of all people from different walks of life. I believe in the promotion of diversity, the elevation of entrepreneurship and the dignity of the hard-working—each of which are values that our great country was founded upon.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Do you have anything you would like to share with the readers of Houston Business Connections Magazine and potential Harris County voters?

JOHN SCHMUDE: I believe that the family is the fundamental building block of society, and when there is chaos in the family, chaos in our communities will inevitably follow. Strong families build strong communities, and strong communities build strong societies. I believe that our family court judges have an obligation to make decisions that support and strengthen families and to render just and amicable solutions when it becomes necessary to dissolve familial bonds.

As Judge, I intend to implement the following courtroom policies and procedures:

One of my first acts as Judge will be to end the Court's policy of denying parents access to their children when they have not filed a certificate of completion of a court mandated parenting course. I believe that such policy is flagrantly unconstitutional and tramples upon the natural rights of parents. It is difficult to imagine how denying an otherwise good parent access to a child based on failure to file a form in any way advances the best interest of children.

I will maintain a courteous courtroom in which all lawyers and parties will be treated with the utmost respect. 

Lawyers who have reached agreements on cases and lawyers who are ready to approach on true default judgments will be accommodated on any day the Court is in session and at any time during the day that court is in session and available. This way, lawyers will have the flexibility to prove up and finalize agreements and defaults quickly and efficiently. 

I believe that the role of a judge is to make rulings when there are legitimate controversies between the parties and not to create controversies when parties are in agreement. As such, barring exceptional circumstances, it will be my policy to generally grant continuances that are agreed to by all parties. 

If a lawyer makes a timely late call and properly notifies opposing counsel, I will not move forward on a case until such lawyer is present in Court. As a solo practitioner, I understand how attorneys are oftentimes required to be in multiple courts on the same day and how courts sometimes impose substantial burdens on lawyers. The practice of law is stressful enough without the added pressure of unnecessary and burdensome demands imposed upon lawyers by courts. 

I am a strong believer in mediation. Mediation not only reduces precious judicial resources, but more importantly, it has a tendency to bring parties together as opposed to courtroom battles, which tend to pull parties further apart. I believe that families are usually better served when disputes are resolved amicably.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

MARCY CLAYPOOL PERRY: I am not a politician…but you asked for my thoughts -- here they are…What is freedom? In the past it was the ability to speak on topics that mattered to you…then you had the right to have an opposing view…but now you are called names if your opinion does not match others --you can also be threatened. So as I watch, freedom of speech is being eroded for a form of political correctness which ignores the gains of the past, and distorts history. 

Freedom of choice covers the ability to have your own beliefs; your own religion. 

Freedom was not about the minority of any group determining what your beliefs should be; but was based on a majority view. 

Freedom to me has been about living where you want too…if you can afford it. 

Freedom was training for the job you want and working to get it. 

Freedom is now about being able to have friends of any color… 40 years ago that was not true. 

In today's internet society we are able to check on those who supposedly represent us, if we choose. We are also able to see if they hold us in any kind of regard and I know quite a few do not. It is my freedom of choice to re-elect them or not. 

We have incredible amounts of freedom and we will continue to have them as long we guard them jealously.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUSTICE JEFF BROWN: Freedom is a gift of God. Government can help secure and protect our freedom, but it’s not the source of our freedom. And government can just as easily deprive us of our freedom. God intends for us to live freely—to worship Him as our conscience directs us, to speak fearlessly against oppression and tyranny, and to be free to work and provide for our families. Living freely is the only way each of us can become the complete person God wants us to be. But freedom cannot be taken for granted; it must be protected and nourished. Perhaps Ronald Reagan said it best: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

JUSTICE JEFF BROWN: I’m proud to be an American because our country is an exceptional place. It’s a place where big dreams can come true for those willing to work hard to achieve them. Being an American is not about belonging to one ethnicity; it’s about buying into a collection of ideas about how people should live their lives: freely, dutifully, and according to the rule of law. And I’m proud to be an American because more often than not, America has stood up for goodness and decency and fair play. America and Americans are far from perfect, but we are exceptional because of the ideals we strive to realize, both for ourselves and the whole world.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

JUDGE WESLEY WARD: Freedom is opportunity, choice, and duty. It is our God-given (not government-allowed) freedom to live, become educated, vote, speak, and work how we choose. But it is not all take and no give, for with our freedom comes duty, our responsibility to protect that freedom and to nourish it by living it. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” said Nelson Mandela. 

Freedom is fragile. Freedom must always be guarded, because there are always those who would seek to restrict our freedoms. As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not passed to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” 

As Judge of Texas’ 234th District Court, I fight everyday to protect our freedom, through fair and equal enforcement of the law. Because freedom can only exist through the rule of law -- the backbone of our democracy, and the safeguard of our liberty. 

For me, on a personal level, freedom is on the back of a horse, on a high bluff looking west, with the rising sun at my back, my wife and my children around me, looking out across the endless vista of opportunity that America gives to the world. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

JUDGE WESLEY WARD: Why NOT?!? (That seems like a good place to start.). 

My pride in America has always been thorough and complete. It did not start at some point, and it will not end. For America is more than any single point in time or any single victory or misstep, it is the promise of continuing improvement, eternally striving to achieve the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity. 

America is the greatest land of opportunity ever conceived. And not by a little. By a LOT. It is the beacon of hope for the world, hope that the world can be better when we trust and love our fellow man, and when we give people the opportunity to succeed. Through our adherence to our Constitution, free enterprise, and equal protection under rule of law, America has raised the standard of living for the entire world. 

America is not perfect; never has been and probably never will be. But it is by far the greatest system ever devised, and it is still getting better (especially in Texas!). 

Harry Truman said that “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Every Monday morning, we start our court session in Texas’ 234th District Court with the Pledge of Allegiance the flag of the United States of America, and then to the flag of the Great State of Texas. We then set in to the hard work of justice, raising up the rule of law, seeking fairness and rightness for all who bring their disputes. Everymonday morning, and every minute of that day and every other day, I am so proud to serve America. (And why NOT?).

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

JUDGE STEVEN KIRKLAND: Whenever, I ponder that question, I hear the voice of Barbara Jordan rumbling across the prairie. I had the good fortune to hear Ms. Jordan mark the Sesquicentennial of the battle at San Jacinto. It was a sunny morning in March, and her voice echoed across the battleground, her words… “Freedom, that was what it was all about, freedom… 

“We are revolutionaries, we Texans...we Americans, born of revolution. Born of a desire for the God-given right of the individual...be he brown, white, yellow...to live his own life as he chooses. Or, as she chooses. Here at San Jacinto, we won that right for Texas and eventually for Mexico by defeating a dictator. On this 150th Anniversary of that battle, let us publicly state our respect for the dignity of Mary and Maria...Juan and John...Richard and Ricardo...and for their inherent right to choose their own destiny...and to enjoy freedom...for that was what San Jacinto was all about ... freedom!" 

While I will never be as eloquent as she, I will build on what she offered that morning. I find freedom in many places and ways. Whether it is hiking up Emory Peak in Big Bend or riding a bike along Buffalo Bayou, sitting in quite contemplation in a Buddhist temple or singing hymns in a Baptist church, holding my partner’s hand as we walk down the beach or playing ball with my nephew, casting a ballot, or reading a good book. For me, the freedom to choose my own destiny means the freedom to explore new ideas without fear of reprisal or retribution and to use those ideas to build my life. As Congresswoman Jordan so eloquently put it, that is what our revolutions were about. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

JUDGE STEVEN KIRKLAND: If you listen to the talking heads on TV, you’d find it hard to believe, but America is a place where people come together and work hard to solve problems together. I’ve been part of many successful community driven solutions, from the housing organization I founded in 1991 and watched build more than 350 units of affordable housing in Houston’s inner city, to the City’s Homeless Court which has graduated more than 1000 folks. I am proud of the successes, I am even more proud that this son of a truckdriver was able to work with such a diverse community to make these things happen.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

STATE REP. PATRICIA HARLESS: Freedom is a gift I have been given by the men and women that gave their lives serving our country. Their gift has given me the ability to worship in public, speak my mind (even though it may not be what is popular or wanted), to work, raise a family, get an education, start a business, and to be as rich or as poor as I want. Freedom also means I have a responsibility to participate in government to ensure that my freedom is passed on to my kids and grandkids. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

STATE REP. PATRICIA HARLESS: I am proud to be an American because America is a country of people that understand "to whom much is given, much is required". We have everyday citizens that give their time, talent and treasures to help others, not because they are required to by the government, but because they choose to. We are a country founded, though at time it seems weak, on faith in God and the Bible. We give, help, and sacrifice for others. It is just the American way. Every time I see a disaster in some part of the United States, though my heart grieves for the loss, it also rejoices when I see complete strangers standing shoulder to shoulder to help those in need. You don't see that in other countries, unless it is Americans that are there helping.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

FARRAH MARTINEZ: Freedom is living without restraint or hindrance from others. It is the right we have in this great country to make choices for ourselves and for our family. Freedom reminds me of the sacrificial work that other people do to keep me free; freedom keeps me humble and allows me to appreciate the immeasurable gift that is invaluable and it reminds me of how expensive of a gift it truly is. Freedom reminds me to cherish life and not to take this life we have here in American for granted. Freedom reminds me that to whom much is given much is required. Freedom reminds me to go out every single day and give it my best because it came at immeasurable price. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

FARRAH MARTINEZ: I am proud to be an American because of the great life this country has afforded me and my family. There are few countries, other than American, where my story would become a reality. I was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to support our family. My mother could not afford to send me to college; however, I was still able to attend college and later go on to attend law school and become an attorney. Now I am running for judge. My personal story makes be proud to be an American because this county, while it is not perfect it is a place of opportunity and there is no other country that I would rather live in; nor is there any other county that I would rather serve as a Judge. The U.S. Constitution provides a great compass to protect our rights and freedoms and what I love about America is that we keep working to get it right; we keep working to make sure that everyone is protected, that everyone is included, that everyone has a chance to see their dreams come to pass. I am proud to be an American and privileged to be a candidate for Judge of the 190th Civil District Court of Harris County. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

DAVID C. NEWELL: At the risk of stating the obvious, "freedom" means a lot of different things to different people. People find its meaning in the inspirational words of Martin Luther King, Jr. or maybe even a popular song. But one thing that I have observed about freedom is that people, including myself, do not seem to think specifically about what it means to them on a regular basis. 

If you look at the dictionary definition it can mean the quality of being free as in the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. It certainly means that to me as I often marvel at little things many of us take for granted such as the ability to catch a quick bite to eat at a fast-food restaurant. But I also see it quite often in the big things like the ability to vote for who will be my voice in passing the laws that will govern my daily life. 

And that leads me to another definition of freedom, that of a political right. It is a great paradox that our freedoms are based upon our responsibilities as citizens of the United States to participate in the process of self-governance. You can feel that responsibility not only in those little reminders such as a notice for jury duty, but also in the eyes of soldiers returning from foreign soil where they fought to bring freedom to others and preserve it for us at home. 

So perhaps that is what freedom means most to me. Those dictionary definitions and real life examples serve as humbling reminders of how truly blessed I am to live in a country with so much freedom that I rarely have to question my access to it. And they also serve to obligate me to exercise that freedom in a way that preserves that liberty for my family, my friends, and my fellow citizens. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

DAVID C. NEWELL: I am proud to be an American because it is founded upon self-governance and reliance. Our government was the first of its kind to secure the freedom and opportunities of the people the government serves rather than a select group of people or a single individual. Indeed, our founding fathers included checks and balances in the bones of our republic so that when one group might edge towards tyranny another group has an institutional interest in curtailing that overreach. 

Moreover, its citizens have a voice not only in their representatives, but in the rule of law. Because America was founded upon the principle that no man is above the law rather than the divine right of kings, citizens have a path through the court system to directly challenge laws that infringe upon their constitutional rights. And where government exceeds its authority, it is always within the power of the governed to affect meaningful change. 

This interplay between rights and responsibilities is unique in the world, and it is the cornerstone of what makes America great. It provides an example to the rest of the world as a shining city on a hill and a harbor to those who want to share in the American dream. And it fosters such an abundance of freedom and opportunity that those who enjoy its blessings rarely have occasion to question those gifts.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

CHRIS CARMONA: Freedom is different things to different people depending on their background and what struggles they went through growing up. For me, Freedom is having the ability to pursue any goal or dream I choose in a country that stands for building your own destiny. Freedom is the ability to be me without feeling that I will be prosecuted for not fitting a typical mold of another. Freedom is the ability to sleep at night without fear that injustices that occur elsewhere around the world, don’t make it into our neighborhoods because of the sacrifices that our soldiers make to keep us safe. To me, Freedom is the essence of being an American. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

CHRIS CARMONA: I’m proud to be an American because there is no other country in the world that has the opportunities that we do. Recently those opportunities have been trampled on and suppressed, but I am fully confident that we will right the ship. But see, that’s what makes America so great. Even in our darkest hours, we have the ability to come out stronger than before and become an even greater country. We are compassionate people who have the heart for seeing others succeed and we support each other when times get rough. Where else in the world can we succeed, fail, and then succeed again all in the same lifetime? That’s only in America. We are the country of hard work, grit and determination. We are boot-strappers and aren’t afraid to take on the challenges of success. We don’t rely on others for our success and we understand that the government is not Superman. We have the opportunity to become our own destiny and build our own legacy. America, overall, is a true meritocracy where discipline and hard work breeds success and that is the heart and soul of what it is to be an American, and more importantly that is why I am proud to be an American. 

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

STEPHANIE BOUTTE: I was born absent of the shackles of slavery and bondage, yet in the shadows of Jim Crow; and I was nurtured and protected by my grandparents who allowed me to build a sense of confidence and tackle aspirations which were not within their immediate grasp. 

Freedom to me means the underground rail road, freedom rides, sit-ins, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and President Obama. To come from a time where we were forced to drink from separate water faucets to becoming the first Black President, that is Freedom. When I think of what my ancestors had to endure, I become more in love with my Freedoms. Freedom to be me, whatever that is!

I was born absent of the shackles of slavery and bondage, yet in the shadows of Jim Crow and vast discrimination. I was nurtured and protected by a grandmother who fostered me a sense of confidence to tackle aspirations which were not within her grasp as a young woman. 

But in the world which I bore my two children, Freedom, when considered in its full context is first and foremost a proposition, or better yet, a compromise. We concede certain rights in order to occupy certain spaces, or forfeit the same. Yes, precisely, it is that condition which allows us to navigate our "do's" and "don't's" in order to gain full access to the quality and purpose for the life we choose. So Freedom is not a stagnant thing or one which is guaranteed infinitely. Depending on how broadly we aim to exercise them (Freedoms), they become subject to challenge and doubt. At times, we have to resume the fight for it, or reinforce our right to it, as various interests whittle portions for their own purposes. Yet it is desirable, because at its best, Freedom allows us to proclaim our thoughts in an unfiltered fashion, move about our daily lives in the manner which is within the province of our own discretion, and it enables us to champion our own causes as well as those of others, when we see fit. It does require means, in terms of resources, and a state of mind which is sufficient to reach the fulfillment of this proposition.

As I reflect on the pain, struggle and hardship of those who lost their lives to the cost of Freedom, I am inclined to believe that Freedom, in its deepest sense of the word, is the ability to create, without infringement, restraints and limitations. And the awareness that the greatest burdens to the realization of true Freedom and the aspirations we treasure most are often those born within our own minds.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

I am proud to be an American because even with all of the injustices found in our nation, we still stand proud. We still find a way to compete. We are a competitive nation. I am proud to be an American because I know the truth about how this nation was built. I know the truth about who the true inventors were. I know what MLK stood for. I understand what Malcom X was saying. I am proud to be an American because I come from a legacy of doers. I come from a legacy of people who did what it took to get the job done. For these reasons and more I am proud to be an American.

I am also proud to be an American because, although she has a deep, dark, storied history; it still provides some of the greatest opportunities in the world. It gives me great pride to know that my willingness to face adversity, challenge the systems and work diligently towards my goals can warrant me sweet success and a better life. Freedoms, which I take for granted and rights which are constitutionally protected are not easily guaranteed in other nations. I am proud to be an American because, it takes character, pride and dignity to accept the fact that I may always be seen as a third class citizen but I will never be deterred from achieving greatness. I am proud to be an American, because of the defiance that was shown and the blood that was shed by my ancestors to make this country great is the same blood that runs in my veins-today. I am proud to be an American, because I know that in this country you can actually have an idea that when nourished properly, planted in fertile soil, and watered meticulously can become a living legacy. 

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Laura Nicol is the Democrat Challenging Republican Jim Murphy in the 2014 Midterm Elections for the Texas State Representative for House District 133 seat. In this interview, Nicol shares her thoughts on why she’s the best candidate; her stance on abortion, her stance on gay-marriage, and more with Aubrey R. Taylor

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you the best candidate in the race for State Representative for House District 133 on Tuesday, November 4, 2014? 

LAURA NICOL: Electing me would put a fighter for ordinary people into the legislature. The causes and consequences of poverty are well known and can be cured. I am determined to put evidence-based policies in place to make society work for everyone. Every school should be a good school, every job should be a good job, and every business should be an asset to the community. I will fight to change the system so everyone can succeed. Re-electing the incumbent Republican would mean business as usual. He is wealth oriented and seems completely disinterested in his job to promote the general welfare and provide for the common defense. He brags on how many private schools are in his district, while he votes to cut public school funds. He approves of spending those diminished funds on charter schools, which cater to the well behaved children of two-car-one-income families. He sees no problem with leaving the rest of our children in under-funded schools, in over-crowded classrooms, trained to pass hi-stakes tests, and subjected to humiliation and/or arrest for minor rule violations.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

CARL PITTMAN: For many Americans freedom is taken for granted because it's all they've ever known. Everything that needs to grow must have freedom. Our country is on the verge of economic collapse and constitutional crisis at the hands of a president (Obama) who is completely unfamiliar with what the term "Freedom" truly means. America and Freedom are synonymous, because you can't have one without the other. Freedom is the very cornerstone on which America was built. Freedom is a blessing from God with the assistance from all of those who have served and have died to protect and sustain it. Freedom means everything to me, but I have never lived under the illusion that it was free.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

CARL PITTMAN: I am proud to be an American because it is truly the greatest country on the face of this planet. It allowed a small boy from the most humbling of starts to do some incredible things, with more to come. I am proud to be an American because no other country in the world can come back from the brink of destruction at the hands of a corrupt government like America will surely have to do! I have always been proud of America, not because America is perfect, but because America is mine. I knew as a 18 year old United States Marine that I was part of something far greater than myself and I was willing if necessary to die to protect it. I am proud of America because I love America.

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Aubrey A. Taylor, Publisher of Houston Business Connections Magazine recently asked Stacy Swimp to share his thought on what freedom means to him. Here is his response:

WHAT FREEDOM MEANS TO ME 
BY STACY SWIMP

"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."- John 8:34-36

Many times, when discussing freedom, we tend to think in terms of the Constitution, our nation's public policies and what we call "individual liberty". In effect, we often consider freedom as something related to politics and what man defines as our boundaries. 

When I think of Freedom, I think of the kind of freedom that no man can ever give me:

Freedom from my own sins and the bondage that came from sin. 

Having been raised in an environment where bitterness and wrath, alcoholism, mental and physical abuse systematically stripped me of all initiative to achieve; I became a slave to that which surrounded me.

Sadly, that resulted in my becoming even worse than anything I had seen or heard as a pre-adolescent. I was blinded by my own sense of being a victim and could not see beyond the moment, chasing one destructive goal after another. 

When I accepted Christ as my savior, it was the most liberating act I had ever known. It is Christ who made me free. Who released me from the guilt, shame, and fear that once held me captive. 

I was freed from the rage. 

God delivered me and gave me a right to live a life of freedom as He intended it…Freedom of Conscience and of spirit. 

So, today, as we live in a society where government seeks to persecute us for our freedom of conscience and spirit, I am without worry or anxiety, for I know that no matter what the world may do to me and regardless of what perverted law government sanctions against my conscience, no man can deny the freedom I have from Jesus Christ, for it comes from the Spirit of the Lord. 

The Bible says to live is to be like Christ and to die is to be with Christ. 

There is no freedom in our nation that will matter to me without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Furthermore, as we face a reduction in our freedom of religion in America today -- which comes from our Judeo-Christian values -- society has found itself increasingly in spiritual, moral and economic bondage. 

In the final analysis, freedom, to me, means I have the liberty to be who I am in Christ Jesus and to stand tall before any and every opposition to my faith. Moreover, against every violation of my conscience, knowing that the Lord will show Himself strong on my behalf. 

On behalf of my true freedom!

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Do you have anything you would like to share with the readers of Houston Business Connections Magazine or potential voters in the 2nd Congressional District of Texas?

NIKO LETSOS: There are real and long-term problems we are facing that must be addressed. The scale of these challenges requires a partnership between the American people and the American government - not a relationship of antagonism. I have three main proposals that will allow us to take on all of the problems we face effectively. These are aimed at ensuring the government is always serving the interest of everyday Americans, not petty special interests. The first will allow us to track every single tax dollar we face by making all the details of government spending available to the public in real time. The second is a way to track those we send to represent us by making politicians’ detailed schedules available to the public. The third is a setting up a legal framework that will make the media more accountable so folks can get an accurate picture of what is truly going on. These proposals once enacted as legislation will build trust and thereby get our democracy working again."

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

PHILIP OWENS: Freedom is more than an idea, it is an ideal. The Declaration of Independence begins with the fundamental truth that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Jefferson and the Founding Fathers recognized that no man or Government can take away what God has given. 

These are rights we have not just at the beginning of our nation’s life or when we may become a citizen. But something that we are given at our individual creation and even more so at the beginning of the creation of life itself. Consider that at the very beginning of man, and at the beginning of our life, we have the freedom to live a free life in pursuit of what makes us happy. America itself was founded upon that notion. In fact, these freedoms are so important that brothers went to war with brothers to ensure every American had these. 

I take that notion and the ideal of freedom very seriously and very personally. For me, freedom is not only my right, but the right of others. And it’s my duty to protect those rights; because, if freedom can be taken from someone else, it can be taken from me. Now people may forfeit their right to freedom by violating the rights and freedoms of others; but that is the consequences of their choosing. Government itself should protect our rights, but not interfere with or limit them. 

That’s why I think as we celebrate freedom we must also recognize the responsibility of being free. It is our duty to protect those rights by the wise exercising of them. But we cannot protect people from the outcome of poor choices by protecting or compensating them for making poor choices. Freedom means that I can make my life better by taking advantage of those rights, but not by taking advantage of others or their rights. 

Nelson Mandela said: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

PHILIP OWENS: I’m proud to be an American simply because I think this country has served as an at times imperfect, but enduring example of what can be accomplished by a free people who are citizens of a county that allows them to use their talents and abilities to pursue happiness by exercising their liberty as a free man or woman. And that we have so many of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and friends willing to sacrifice their life to give that gift to the world.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

MACK MCINNIS: The Concept of Freedom covers many ideas and rights that should be automatically bequeathed to everyone in the world. Your question asks me to select those Freedoms that are most important to me.

An early freedom that arrived to our shores before the Right to Vote, is the Right to a Fair Trial. Over time the Right to a Fair Trial evolved into the rule that, in criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the accuser and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. For me, this is the most basic right. Even the Romans believed that the government should have the burden of proof. Of course, Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote are essential rights that we cherish. 

I have often heard it said that the American Constitution is the greatest testament to freedom ever written. In light of court interpretations and amendments, our Constitution did become the great document it is today, but it began as a wonderful but imperfect Charter of Freedoms that legitimized slavery. As Barbara Jordan said in an off-the-cuff speech, “We the people” is a very eloquent beginning that did not apply to her, but through the process of development, the Constitution became a document in which her “faith is whole; it is complete; it is total….”

As a young teenager in Alabama, I was an Eagle Scout. I recall a time when I could not enjoy the fellowship of black Scouts because we attended separate events and separate summer camps. At one Scout fair, I lent a small axe to another Eagle Scout who had wandered into the white Scout area on the opposite side of the hosting stadium. We talked and found that we had many things in common. We could have been good friends, but at the time Scout troops were segregated. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

MACK MCINNIS: Reverend Joseph Lowery (SCLC Director Emeritus) often says that the Civil Rights movement freed white and black folks. He is right. Before I attended law school, I served as a VISTA Volunteer in several poor black neighborhoods in Houston including the Fifth Ward. I know firsthand how important our Civil Liberties are. Our Freedoms are still developing. Someday those immigrants who are helping to fight our wars will be given the Right to Vote and the Right to Become Citizens. I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN LIVING THIS PROCESS!!

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http://www.aubreyrtaylor.blogspot.com/2014/07/interview-david-hamilton-is-republican.html

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

DAVID HAMILTON: Freedom means enjoying our God-given, Constitutional rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Texans have always stood for freedom, and fought for our rights when they were threatened by big, centralized governments that ignored the will of the people.

José Antonio Navarro was a freedom-loving Texas hero who fought for Mexican independence from Spain, and later fought for Texas independence from Mexico before signing the Texas Declaration of Independence and becoming one of our first Texas state senators.

Navarro was the uncle of another freedom-loving Texas hero, James Bowie, who died defending one of the greatest symbols of freedom in the Lone Star State: the Alamo.

Freedom means never forgetting the sacrifices our ancestors have made for us.

That is why Texans will always remember men like Bowie, Travis, Houston, Austin, and Navarro. That is why Texas will always remember the Alamo.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

DAVID HAMILTON: I am proud to be an American because this is the country of Charles Sumner and Hiram Revels.

When the Kansas-Nebraska Act expanded slavery into northern states, Senator Sumner gave an impassioned speech on the evils of slavery and condemned the members of Congress who defended it. A pro-slavery congressman nearly beat Sumner to death in what is now known as the caning of Charles Sumner.

Fourteen years later, slavery had been abolished and Senator Sumner gave another speech on the Senate floor. This time, he had the honor of swearing in Hiram Revels as the first black United States senator.

America is the country where people of all races worked together and conquered slavery. America is the country where our differences do not prevent any of us from reaching for the stars.

America is the country of Charles Sumner and Hiram Revels.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

LATONYA POLEDORE: Freedom is being able to walk inside of a public restroom. A long time ago there was no freedom because of the way this nation ran things. Slavery existed around the time 1789-1861. The definition of slavery is the practice or system of owning (in those times) slaves. During those times, slaves were pretty much forced into cleaning up for long periods of hours and building this nation without compensation. Some slaves worked out in the field picking cotton. During this period in our nation’s history, if slaves did not pick the cotton and walk to take the cotton to the cotton house, they would get whipped. Slaves were controlled until Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This gave all African Americans freedom. Today we are living in the 21st Century where everyone is equal in the sight of man. Every nationality is now able to sit side by side. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote many quotes, his “I have a Dream” speech is perhaps his most remembered. In society, freedom for African Americans is being able to achieve our goals. But a key target that African Americans must still continue to work diligently toward is accomplishing the goal of getting a quality education. Fredrick Douglass once stated that, “the way out of slavery is getting an education”.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you? 

RUSTY KUCIEMBA: Freedom is that which is out of the realm of control of governmental and religious institutions. Freedom cannot be given, but it can be taken away though by force. Freedom appears to be in a constant state of flux, it seems to be on the decline in America today with NSA spying on us and sifting through our emails and phone calls, FBI questioning people who attend protests, databases that are storing information about every American, the popular "free speech zones,"drones flying over us, and numerous other transgressions on a free people. There is hope with new technology outpacing government regulators and enforcers every day. This appears in the form of crypto currencies(bit-coin), ride sharing programs(uber/lyft), and many other innovations. Some people are choosing to ignore bad laws and regulations- feeding the hungry with the proper permit, demonstrating outside of the designated area, participating in ride sharing programs prohibited by city ordinance, and in numerous other ways. It appears freedom is something that many people harken back to when watching old movies and seeing that there is no TSA, there is no one questioning people and demanding they present their identification, there is no spying on Americans, and the idea that you give up huge rights to the state in order to be "safe" is not prevalent. Freedom could be thought of as a neo-nazi transgender lesbian heroin addict protesting a Hanukkah celebration(outside of the "free speech zone")while having a surgery by an unlicensed doctor and paying for drugs and the procedure with bit-coin. Freedom in my humble opinion is being exercised to the fullest by the participants of the Free State Project. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American? 

RUSTY KUCIEMBA: I am proud to be an American because I live in a country that has disagreement and debate. A country that values opportunities and innovations. A country that has given birth to many fields of thought and philosophy. A country in which the flames of liberty are still burning in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. A country that I call home.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does Freedom mean to you?

SEAN ROBERTS: Independence Day to me means freedom from dictatorship and a principle that the people will govern themselves. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

SEAN ROBERTS: I am proud to be an American because we strive to provide opportunities to succeed to anyone willing to work hard enough to achieve their goals.

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AUBREY R. TAYLOR: What does freedom mean to you?

MICHAEL K. COLE: I will have to say that when I was first shown these two questions, I thought that the two questions would be answered quickly and easily. I thought of glib and expected answers: freedom means the ability to chart your own path and that it is that freedom that makes me proud to be an American.

Simple, non-offensive, everybody is left with the feelings of flag waving and humming Soussa’s, Stars and Stripes Forever.

But I think that would be disingenuous and one dimensional. And selling America and the American people short. 

Freedom means for me not just the words of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; it means a fidelity to our fellow citizens. Being a free person, does not absolve anyone of their responsibilities to their neighbors or their family, it heightens it. We as being free to choose our own path are also responsible for those choices. In nations where everything is decided by a dictator or an oligarchy, there is a freedom from responsibility…after all, there the individuals choices are made by another.

Here, if there is rampant crime and gun violence, a failing economy, racism, a crumbling infrastructure or any of a multitude of other problems we have no tyrant to blame, no circumstance out of our control. We are the government, through our inaction or improper action, we made those choices. Apathy is not an excuse. Freedom does not remove you from responsibility to take ownership in our communities, our states and our nation. 

When a man is murdered because of no other reason than the color of his skin or his sexual orientation, we are all to blame because we allowed that culture to continue till today. When a child in our great land lives in the hardest gut-wrenching poverty imaginable, we are all guilty of abusing and neglecting our future. We can point fingers at the other party; liberals can blame conservatives and vice versa, but in the end, it is our fault for letting things continue.

But that is also what is so great about this country as well. 

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: Why are you proud to be an American?

MICHAEL K. COLE: Being an American means we ultimately struggle to do the right thing. We fought a Civil War to end slavery, we fought to give women the right to vote, we had our marches in Selma, and we fought DOMA. We still fight those injustices today. And thankfully we will still fight them tomorrow.

Our greatness is not in the land, though blessed with a beautiful nation we are. Our greatness does not merely exist with our Constitution, though it is a work of art for how free people govern themselves. And it is not our military or technological might, though however strong they both are.

Our greatness is in ourselves and our future. A spirit of people who do things not because they are easy, but because it is the right thing to do. A nation that is not of one race of humanity, but the spirit of all of humanity; a nation that is at its very motto “E Pluribus Unum” means we come from many backgrounds, from many lands, from many faiths… but, at the end come together.


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http://www.directlinkupload.com/uploads/172.56.15.170/Voting%20Gods%20Way%20-%20Tony%20Evans.mp3



Voting God's Way - A message from Dr. Tony Evans on how Believer's should be voting to elect leaders who best reflect the values of the Kingdom of God.

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U. S. Senator 
John Cornyn, Republican VS. David M. Alameel, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for United States Senator at this time. Rebecca Paddock is a Libertarian candidate also running for U.S. Senator for Texas.

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United States Representative District 2 
Ted Poe, Republican VS. Niko Letsos, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 2nd Congressional District of Texas at this time. Cecil Anthony Ince is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Congress for District 2.

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United States Representative District 7 
John Culberson, Republican VS. James Cargas, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 7th Congressional District of Texas at this time.Gerald Fowler is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Congress for District 7.

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United States Representative District 8 
Kevin Brady, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for United States Congress for the 8th Congressional District of Texas. Ken Petty is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Congress for District 8. Congressman Kevin Brady is seeking your vote in this race.

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United States Representative District 9 
Al Green, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for United States Congress for the 9th Congressional District of Texas. Johnny Johnson is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Congress for District 9.

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United States Representative District 10 
Michael McCaul Republican VS. Tawana Walter-Cadien, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 10th Congressional District of Texas at this time. Bill Kelsey is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Congress for District 10.

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United States Representative District 14 
Randy Weber, Republican VS. David Brown, Democrat, and John Weider, the Libertarian candidate. This is one of our featured races taking place outside of Harris County, Texas. -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 14th Congressional District of Texas at this time. 

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United States Representative District 18 
Sean Seibert, Republican VS. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat -- *Sean Seibert (R) is the only candidate seeking your vote in the race for the 18th Congressional District of Texas at this time.

----------------------------

United States Representative District 22 
Pete Olson, Republican VS. Frank Briscoe, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 22nd Congressional District of Texas at this time. Rob Lapham is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Representative for District 22.

----------------------------

United States Representative District 29 
Gene Green, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for United States Congress for the 29th Congressional District of Texas. James Stanczak is a Libertarian candidate also running for United State Representative for District 29.

----------------------------

United States Representative District 36 
Brian Babin, Republican VS. Michael K. Cole, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for the 36th Congressional District of Texas at this time.Rodney Veach is a Libertarian candidate also running for United States Representative for District 36.

----------------------------

Governor of Texas 
Greg Abbott, Republican VS. Wendy R. Davis, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Governor of Texas at this time. Kathie Glass is a Libertarian candidate also running for Governor of Texas in the 2014 Midterm Election.

----------------------------

Lieutenant Governor 
Dan Patrick, Republican VS. Leticia Van de Putte, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Lieutenant Governor of Texas at this time. Robert Butler is a Libertarian candidate also running for Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

----------------------------

Attorney General 
Ken Paxton, Republican VS. Sam Houston, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Texas Attorney General at this time. Jamie Balagia is a Libertarian candidate also running for Attorney General of Texas.

----------------------------

Comptroller of Public Accounts 
Glenn Hegar, Republican VS. Mike Collier, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts at this time. Ben Saunders is a Libertarian candidate also running for Comptroller of Public Accounts.

-----------------------------

Commissioner of the General Land Office 
George P. Bush, Republican VS. John Cook, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Commissioner of the General Land Office at this time. Justin Knight is a Libertarian candidate also running for Commissioner of the General Land Office.

----------------------------

Commissioner of Agriculture 
Sid Miller, Republican VS. Jim Hogan, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture at this time. Rocky Palmquist is a Libertarian candidate also running for Commissioner of Agriculture.

----------------------------

Railroad Commissioner 
Ryan Sitton, Republican VS. Steve Brown, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Texas Railroad Commissioner at this time. Mark Miller is a Libertarian candidate also running for Texas Railroad Commissioner.

----------------------------

Chief Justice, Supreme Court 
Nathan Hecht, Republican VS. William Moody, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Chief Justice, Supreme Court at this time. Tom Oxford is a Libertarian Candidate also running for Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas.

----------------------------

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6 (Unexpired) 
Jeff Brown, Republican VS. Lawrence Edward Meyers, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6 (Unexpired) at this time. Mark Ash is a Libertarian candidate also running for Supreme Court Justice Place 6, Texas.

----------------------------

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7 
Jeff Boyd, Republican VS. Gina Benavides, Democrat  -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7 at this time. Don Fulton is a Libertarian candidate also running for Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7.

----------------------------

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8 
Phil Johnson, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8 in Texas. Roberto Koelsch is a Libertarian candidate also running for Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8.

----------------------------

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3 
Bert Richardson , Republican VS. John Granberg, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3 at this time. Mark Bennett is a Libertarian candidate also running for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3.

----------------------------

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4 
Kevin Patrick Yeary, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4 in Texas. Quanah Parker is a Libertarian candidate also running for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4.

----------------------------

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9 
 David Newell, Republican -- *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm election for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9. William Bryan Strange III is a Libertarian candidate also running for Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9.

----------------------------

Member, State Board of Education, District 4 
Dorothy Olmos, Republican VS. Lawrence A. Allen Jr., Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Member, State Board of Education, District 4 at this time.

----------------------------

State Senator, District 7 
Paul Bettencourt, Republican VS. Jim Davis, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Senator, District 7 at this time.Whitney Bilyeu is a Libertarian candidate also running for State Senator for District 7.

----------------------------

State Senator, District 15 
Ron Hale, Republican VS. John Whitmire, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Senator, District 15 at this time. Gilberto Velasquez, Jr. is a Libertarian candidate also running for State Senator for District 15.

----------------------------

State Senator, District 17 
Joan Huffman, Republican VS. Rita Lucido, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Senator, District 17 at this time. George Hardy is a Libertarian candidate also running for State Senator for District 17.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 126 
Patricia Harless, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 126 in Texas. Chris Hernandez is a Libertarian candidate also running for State Representative for House District 126.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 127 
Dan Huberty, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 127 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 128 
Wayne Smith, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 128 in Texas. Ken Lowder is a Libertarian candidate also running for State Representative for House District 128.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 129 
Dennis Paul, Republican VS. John Gay, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 129 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 130 
Allen Fletcher, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 130 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 131 
Alma A. Allen, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 131 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 132 
Michael Schofield, Republican VS. Luis Lopez, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 132 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 133 
Jim Murphy, Republican VS. Laura Nicol, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 133 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 134 
Sarah Davis, Republican VS. Alison Ruff, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 134 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 135 
Gary Elkins, Republican VS. Moiz Abbas, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 135 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 137 
Morad H. Fiki, Republican VS. Gene Wu, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 137 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 138 
Dwayne Bohac, Republican VS. Fred R. Vernon, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 138 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 139 
Sylvester Turner, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 139 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 140 
Armando Lucio Walle, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 140 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 141 
Senfronia Thompson, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 141 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 142 
Harold V. Dutton, Jr., Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 142 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 143 
Ana Hernandez, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 143 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 144 
Gilbert Pena, Republican VS. Mary Ann Perez, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 144 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 145 
Carol Alvarado, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 145 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 146 
Borris L. Miles, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 146 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 147 
Garnet F. Coleman, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for State Representative for House District 147 in Texas.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 148 
Chris Carmona, Republican VS. Jessica Cristina Farrar, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 148 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 149 
Al Hoang, Republican VS. Hubert Vo, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 149 at this time.

----------------------------

State Representative House District 150 
Debbie Riddle, Republican VS. Amy Perez, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for State Representative House District 150 at this time.

----------------------------

Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District 
Kem Thompson Frost, Republican VS. Kyle Carter, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District at this time.

----------------------------

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 3 
Russell Lloyd, Republican VS. Jim Sharp, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 3 at this time.

----------------------------

Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 5 
Laura Carter Higley, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Justice, 1st Court of Appeals District, Place 5 in Texas.

----------------------------

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, 
Place 4 (Unexpired) 
Marc Brown, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 4 (Unexpired) in Texas.

----------------------------

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 7 
Ken Wise, Republican VS. Gordon Goodman, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 7 at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 55th Judicial District 
Jeff Shadwick, Republican VS. Kay Morgan, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 55th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 113th Judicial District 
Michael Landrum, Republican VS. Steven E. Kirkland, Democrat  -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 113th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 157th Judicial District 
Randy Wilson, Republican VS. Jim Peacock, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 157th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 180th Judicial District 
Catherine Evans, Republican VS. Randy Roll, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 180th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 182nd Judicial District 
Jeannine Barr, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 182nd Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 183rd Judicial District 
Vanessa Velasquez, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 183rd Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 184th Judicial District 
Jan Krocker, Republican VS. Mark Thering, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 184th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 185th Judicial District 
Susan Brown, Republican VS. Mack McInnis, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 185th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 189th Judicial District 
Bill Burke, Republican VS. Ursula A. Hall, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 189th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 190th Judicial District 
Patricia J. Kerrigan, Republican VS. Farrah Martinez, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 190th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 208th Judicial District 
Denise Collins, Republican VS. Chuck Silverman, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 208th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 209th Judicial District 
Mike McSpadden, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 209th Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 228th Judicial District 
Marc Carter, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 228th Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 230th Judicial District 
Brad Hart, Republican VS. Greg Glass, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 230th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 232nd Judicial District 
Mary Lou Keel, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 232nd Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 234th Judicial District 
Wesley Ward, Republican VS. Barbara Gardner, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 234th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 245th Judicial District 
Roy L. Moore, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 245th Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 246th Judicial District 
Charley Prine, Republican VS. Sandra Peake, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 246th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 247th Judicial District 
John Schmude, Republican VS. Clinton "Chip" Wells, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 247th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 248th Judicial District 
Katherine Cabaniss, Republican VS. Shawna L. Reagin, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 248th Judicial District at this time.

----------------------------

District Judge, 257th Judicial District 
Judy Warne, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 257th Judicial District in Harris County.

----------------------------

District Judge, 262nd Judicial District 
Denise Bradley, Republican VS. Jules Johnson, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 262nd Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 263rd Judicial District 
Jim Wallace, Republican VS. Herb Ritchie, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 263rd Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 269th Judicial District 
Dan Hinde, Republican VS. George H. Arnold, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 269th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 270th Judicial District 
Brent Gamble, Republican VS. James Hippard, Jr., Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 270th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 280th Judicial District 
Lynn Bradshaw-Hull, Republican VS. Barbara J. Stalder, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 280th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 281st Judicial District 
Sylvia Matthews, Republican VS. Tanner Garth, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 281st Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 295th Judicial District 
Caroline E. Baker, Republican VS. Latosha Lewis, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 295th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 308th Judicial District 
James Lombardino, Republican VS. Jim Evans, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 308th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 309th Judicial District 
Sheri Y. Dean, Republican VS. Kathy Vossler, Democrat  -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 185th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 310th Judicial District 
Lisa Millard, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 310th Judicial District in Harris County.

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District Judge, 311th Judicial District 
Alicia Franklin, Republican VS. Sherri L. Cothrun, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 311th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 312th Judicial District 
David Farr, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 312th Judicial District in Harris County.

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District Judge, 313th Judicial District 
Glenn Devlin, Republican VS. Tracy D. Good, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 313th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 314th Judicial District 
John F. Phillips, Republican VS. Natalia Oakes, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 314th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

District Judge, 315th Judicial District 
Michael Schneider, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for District Judge, 315th Judicial District in Harris County.

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District Judge, 334th Judicial District (Unexpired) 
Grant Dorfman, Republican VS. Daryl Moore, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for District Judge, 334th Judicial District at this time.

---------------------------

Harris County District Attorney (Unexpired) 
Devon Anderson, Republican VS. Kim Ogg, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Harris County District Attorney (Unexpired) at this time.

---------------------------

Harris County Judge 
Ed Emmett, Republican VS. Ahmad Robert Hassan, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Harris County Judge at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Civil Court at Law No. 1 
Debra Ibarra Mayfield, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Civil Court at Law #1 in Harris County.

---------------------------

Judge, County Civil Court at Law No. 2 
Theresa Chang, Republican VS. Scot "Doli" Dollinger, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Civil Court at Law #2 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Civil Court at Law No. 3 
Linda Storey, Republican VS. Gloria Cantu Minnick, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Civil Court at Law #3 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Civil Court at Law No. 4 
Roberta Lloyd, Republican VS. Damon Crenshaw, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Civil Court at Law #4 at this time.

----------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 1 
Paula Goodhart, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Criminal Court #1 in Harris County.

----------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 2 
Bill Harmon, Republican VS. Harold J. Landreneau, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #2 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 3 
Natalie C. Fleming, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Criminal Court #3 in Harris County.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 4 
John Clinton, Republican VS. Nikita "Niki" Harmon, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #4 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 5 
Margaret Stewart Harris, Republican VS. Ramona Franklin, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #5 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 6 
Larry Standley, Republican VS. Linda Geffin, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #6 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 7 
Pam Derbyshire, Republican VS. Shelia Acosta, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #7 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 8 
Jay Karahan, Republican VS. Kelli Johnson, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #8 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 9 
Analia Wilkerson, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Criminal Court #9 in Harris County.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 10 
Dan Jeffrey Spjut, Republican VS. George Barnstone, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #10 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 11 
Diane Bull, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Criminal Court #11 in Harris County.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 12 
Robin Brown, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for Judge, County Criminal Court #12 in Harris County.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 13 
Don Smyth, Republican VS. Jason Long, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #13 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No. 14 
Mike Fields, Republican VS. David L. Singer, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #14 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Criminal Court No.15 
 Jean Spradling Hughes, Republican VS. Raul Rodriguez, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Criminal Court #15 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Probate Court No. 1 
Loyd Wright, Republican VS. Kim Bohannon, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Probate Court #1 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Probate Court No.2 
Mike Wood, Republican VS. Josefina Tendon, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Probate Court #2 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Probate Court No. 3 
Rory Robert Olsen, Republican VS. Jerry Simoneaux, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Probate Court #3 at this time.

---------------------------

Judge, County Probate Court No. 4 
Christine Riddle Butts, Republican VS. James Horowitz, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Judge, County Probate Court #4 at this time.

---------------------------

District Clerk 
Chris Daniel, Republican VS. Judith Snively, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Harris County District Clerk at this time.

---------------------------

Harris County Clerk 
Stan Stanart, Republican VS. Ann Harris Bennett, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Harris County Clerk at this time.

---------------------------

Harris County Treasurer 
Orlando Sanchez, Republican VS. David Rosen, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Harris County Treasurer at this time.

----------------------------

County School Board Trustee, Position 5, At-Large 
Mike Wolfe, Republican VS. Debra "Debby" Keener, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for County School Trustee, Position 5, At-Large at this time.

----------------------------

County School Trustee, Position 7, At-Large 
Don Sumners, Republican VS. Melissa Noriega, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for County School Trustee, Position 7, At-Large at this time.

----------------------------

County Commissioner, Precinct 2 
Jack Morman, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election for County Commissioner for Precinct 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

County Commissioner, Precinct 4 
R. Jack Cagle, Republican VS. M.I. Bad at, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for County Commissioner for Precinct 4, at this time.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 2 
David M. Patronella, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 2 
Leonila Olivares-Salazar, Republican VS. George E. Risner, Democrat -- *Neither candidate is seeking your vote in the race for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, Place 2 at this time.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 2 
Don Coffey, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, Place 2 
Laryssa Korduba, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 4, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 2 
Jeff Williams, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 6, Place 2 
Armando V. Rodriguez, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 6, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Place 2 
Zinetta Burney, Democrat *No Republican Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 7, Place 2, in Harris County.

----------------------------

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 8, Place 2 
Louie Ditta, Republican *No Democratic Opponent on November 4, 2014 in the Midterm Election race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 8, Place 2, in Harris County.

-----------------------------

 # # # #


(From: Hartley, William H., Vincent, William S.. American Civics. N.Y., 1974, pp. 34ff) 

HOW OUR GOVERNMENT WORKS

Government is the authority or power that people establish to help them run their affairs. 

Governments serve many important purposes, but the most important one is that government makes it possible for people to live and work together. Government provides us with rules of conduct we can follow. Government makes it possible for people to live by known laws, and helps provide many services that citizens acting alone could not perform themselves. 

Our nation's government is based on the American Constitution. This Constitution, together with its Bill of Rights and other amendments, provides us with a workable plan of government. The Constitution also guarantees to all Americans many priceless rights and freedoms. 

Our nation's government is based upon the approval, or consent, of the people who are governed. It is a federal system in which certain powers are given to the national government and other powers are left to the states and to the people. Certain powers are shared by both federal and state governments. In both federal and state governments, powers are separated and balanced among three branches of government.

# # # #

The Rights and Freedoms of Americans 

In drafting the Constitution, most of the Founding Fathers believed that the safeguards written into it would protect the rights of Americans. But when the Constitution was sent to the states in 1787 for ratification, a great roar of disapproval went up. In Virginia, Patrick Henry protested vigorously against the lack of a specific statement of rights. Other Americans from different states demanded that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution. A number of states ratified the Constitution only conditionally. That is, they would approve the Constitution only if it were changed to include these rights.

Two years after the new American government went into effect, the Bill of Rights was added as the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Congress discussed nearly 200 proposals for amendments before it presented these ten to the states for approval. The states ratified these amendments, and they became part of the Constitution in 1791. 

THE BILL OF RIGHTS 

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, set forth the priceless rights or freedoms that all Americans may enjoy. A brief summary of these great freedoms is given here. 

FREEDOM OF RELIGION 

The first right, or freedom, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment. Freedom of religion guarantees to all Americans the right to practice any religion they choose, or to practice no religion at all.

Congress is forbidden to establish any religion as our nation's official religion. Congress cannot favor any one religion over others or tax citizens in order to support any one religion. 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH 

The right to express your ideas and opinions when you speak is called freedom of speech. Freedom of speech also means the right to listen to the thoughts and opinions of others. This freedom guarantees that Americans are free to express their thoughts and ideas about anything. They may talk freely to their friends and neighbors or speak in public to a group of people. Of course, no one may use his freedom of speech to injure others. If a person knowingly says things that are false about another, he may be sued in court by the person or persons who believe they have been harmed by what he said.

Americans are free to express opinions about their government or anything else. They are free to criticize the actions of the government and of government officials. In a dictatorship, where the nation's government has all the powers, the people have no right to speak like this. They do not dare to criticize the actions of the government. If they do, they may be imprisoned. But all Americans enjoy the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed in the First Amendment. 

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 

The freedom to express your ideas and opinions in writing is known as freedom of the press. This freedom is closely related to freedom of speech and is also guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Freedom of the press gives all Americans the right to express their ideas and thoughts freely in writing. This writing may be in newspapers, books, magazines, or any other printed or written form. Americans are also free to read what others write. They may read any newspaper, book or magazine they want. Because they are free to read a variety of facts and opinions, Americans can become better-informed citizens. 

FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY 

Another priceless freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment is freedom of assembly, or freedom to hold meetings. Americans are free to meet together to discuss problems and to plan their actions. Of course, such meetings must be carried on in a peaceful way. 

FREEDOM OF PETITION 

The freedom of petition is the right to ask your government to do something or to refrain from doing something. The First Amendment contains this guarantee, also. The freedom of petition gives you the right to write to your Congressman and request him to work for the passage of laws you favor. You are free to ask him to change laws that you do not like. The right of petition also helps government officials to know what Americans think and what actions they want the government to take. 

THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS 

The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. In the early years of our nation, Americans needed weapons in order to serve in the militia, or volunteer armies, that were established to defend our states. The militia provided protection during emergencies, too. Many Americans also believed that without weapons they would be powerless if the government tried to overstep its powers and rule by force. 

"NO-QUARTERING" RIGHT 

The Third Amendment states, "No soldier shall, in times of peace, be quartered in any house. . . ." Under British rule, the colonists sometimes had to feed and house British soldiers against their will. As a result, Americans wanted this practice forbidden under the Bill of Rights. 

THE RIGHT TO EQUAL JUSTICE 

The Bill of Rights contains many rights that are guaranteed to persons accused of a crime. Amendments Five, Six, Seven, and Eight are all concerned with these rights. Our nation places great importance on these rights in order to guarantee equal justice for all Americans.

A person must be indicted, or formally accused of a crime, by a group of citizens called a "grand jury" before he can be brought into court for trial. 


A person accused of a crime is guaranteed the right to know what law he is accused of breaking. 

A person accused of a crime has a right to a prompt public trial by a jury of his fellow citizens. 

An accused person cannot be put into prison and kept there for weeks or months while awaiting a trial. He has the right to leave jail, in most cases, if he can raise a certain sum of money, or bail, as a pledge that he will appear at his trial.

An accused person has a right to a lawyer to represent him in court. 

All the testimony and evidence against an accused person must be presented publicly in court. 

The accused person has the right to call any witnesses to appear if their testimony will help him.

The accused person cannot be forced to testify or give evidence against himself.

If the accused person is found guilty, he cannot be given cruel or unusual punishment. If the accused person is found not guilty of a serious crime, he cannot be tried a second time for this same crime. 

THE RIGHT TO 
OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY 

The Fifth Amendment guarantees Americans the right to own private property. No person may take away anything that we own. Nor can the government seize our land, money, or other forms of property without cause, or without paying for it. The right to own private property is one of America's basic freedoms. Our free economic system is based upon this right. 

THE RIGHT TO ENJOY 
MANY OTHER FREEDOMS 

To make doubly sure that Americans should enjoy every right and freedom possible, Amendment Nine was added to the Constitution. This amendment states that the list of rights contained in the Bill of Rights is not complete. There are many other rights that all Americans have and will continue to have even though they are not mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Among them are the following.

Freedom to live or travel anywhere in our nation

Freedom to work at any job for which we can qualify

Freedom to marry and raise a family

Freedom to receive a free education in good public schools

Freedom to join a political party, a union, and other legal groups 

As a final guarantee of our rights, the Tenth Amendment set aside many powers of government for the states. This Amendment says that all powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution, nor forbidden to the states, are set aside for the states, or for the people. This provision leaves with the states the power to act in many ways to guarantee the rights of their citizens. 

SUMMARY 

Government is the authority or power that people establish to help them run their affairs. 

Governments serve many important purposes, but the most important one is that government makes it possible for people to live and work together. Government provides us with rules of conduct we can follow. Government makes it possible for people to live by known laws, and helps provide many services that citizens acting alone could not perform themselves. 

Our nation's government is based on the American Constitution. This Constitution, together with its Bill of Rights and other amendments, provides us with a workable plan of government. The Constitution also guarantees to all Americans many priceless rights and freedoms. 

Our nation's government is based upon the approval, or consent, of the people who are governed. It is a federal system in which certain powers are given to the national government and other powers are left to the states and to the people. Certain powers are shared by both federal and state governments. In both federal and state governments, powers are separated and balanced among three branches of government. 

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Pastor Robert L. Thomas, his wife Tracey and daughters, Mariel and Taylor

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Why We Should Vote in the Tuesday, November 4, 2014 Midterm Elections

By Pastor Robert L. Thomas

 I know many of us will say the old cliché’ “Our forefathers died for this right!,” which is very true; but that alone as an argument to motivate us to do what we should already be excited to do – just isn’t enough.

 Why we have to extol the virtues of voting to a people just a few decades removed from one of the worst atrocities ever perpetuated against mankind in the detestable act of slavery is really beyond me.

 It really boils down to this: if you are interested in having a better quality of life – you should go out and vote; if you want your children to be able to afford to attend college – then go vote; if you think your taxes are too high for the services you receive – go out and vote; if your school system is not what you want it to be – yep, you should get up and roll to the polls.

 It really is true – your vote is your voice! We have to be stronger in voice, so that what we say, when we say it, matters – and we are responsible for doing that at the voting booth. Elected officials work for the taxpayers, not the other way around, and as such, they should not be able to tell us what they are going to do…they are to push forward the positive agendas for bettering our safety, opportunities, prosperity and quality of life.

 The choice is yours, accept things as they are, or vote and seek the systemic change we all so richly deserve!

 Be Safe, and Stay Informed!

 Robert L. Thomas, Jr.
Robert Thomas Ministries
Senior Pastor of Olivet Missionary Baptist Church
Contact: (713)224-1515

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http://www.directlinkupload.com/uploads/172.56.15.170/Bishop%20KJ%20Brown%20Juneteenth%20Message%20%281%29_TGMjCS.mp3

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Go vote on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 in the 2014 Midterm Election for Harris County

By Bishop K.J. Brown

Voting is an empowered opportunity to choose leadership which should be exercised every time we have the opportunity. Our collective voice is of great value to our neighborhoods, communities, city and country.

Our political system affords us the opportunity to vote…and every vote matters. Everyone who is eligible to vote should do so. Never buy into polls and percentages put out in the media…and figure that your vote won’t make a difference. Every vote counts and every voice will be heard by you participating in this very important and pivotal election taking place on Tuesday, November 4th.

Be attentive to the issues and think forward. When I cast a ballot at the polls I use a biblical example as my guide. God chose David as King. When I read the story of David, I see a lesson we can all use in voting. God chose David because of the following reasons. ONE: His heart. TWO: His History. THREE: How he would handle the issues. FOUR: How he would help the people. FIVE: How he would be used to heal the land.

God knew that David wouldn’t be perfect; but God was able to use him in civil government in order to fulfill his divine purpose. Voting is not only valuable to the candidates. Voting is valuable to you and your family too. Our families are counting on us at the polls. Your right to vote is very valuable. So use it to be a part of the collective voice that leads this country forward. God Bless America!!!

Bishop K.J. Brown Ministries
“Building Winning Lives!”
Email: bishopkjbrown@gmail.com

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http://www.directlinkupload.com/uploads/172.56.15.170/Bishop%20Anthony%20A%20Allen%20-%20The%20American%20Dream%20Song%20and%20Message%20%28audio-joiner.com%29.mp3

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE BY BISHOP ALLEN


http://www.directlinkupload.com/uploads/172.56.15.170/Bishop%20Anthony%20A%20Allen%20-%20The%20American%20Dream%20Song%20and%20Message%20%28audio-joiner.com%29.mp3

LISTEN TO BISHOP ALLEN

The American Dream - This is an inspirational hip hop message from Bishop Anthony A. Allen and Billy Cook a legendary hook singer and rapper. Bishop Allen and his wife Matishe, are the founders of Anthony Allen Ministries and one of the "FEATURED SPONSORS" of the Houston Business Connections Magazine "Celebrating Freedom" series June 2014 - January 2015. Billy Cook has been featured on over 500 records including Chamillioanire's "The Sound Of Revenge". He's worked with just about every big name rapper in Texas. Bishop Anthony A. Allen is an apostolic leader who also serves the community at large as a businessman, entrepreneur, investor, author, and entertainer. He is the founder and president of Anthony Allen Ministries, a ministry called to serve the urban community.


The American Dream Is Ours...So Let's Go Get It -- You have authority to walk in dominion. So don't let anything stop you from doing what you've been called to do. We must bring our community at large to another level of existence. To do this we must put some principles into perspective and practice.


We must put people into office who are not afraid to stand up for righteousness, and walk in the authority given to them by God.



We must put entrepreneurs in their rightful place as leaders in our communities and the marketplace. We must do this by making sure that we support our businesses. But we must also make sure our banks are supporting our businesses and empowering them to be competitive in the marketplace.



We must also educate and empower our communities on the concept of how the economy and free market really works.


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BRAVE PEOPLE HAVE PLAYED AND WILL CONTINUE TO PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN THE CONTINUED FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR EVERY AMERICAN

Follow the timeline to learn more about the history of slavery in the United States, including the arrival of the first African slaves to America, the federal banishment of slave importation, and the abolishment of slavery in the United States.

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The first African slaves arrive in Virginia.

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Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory. The U.S Constitution states that Congress may not ban the slave trade until 1808.

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Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor.

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A federal fugitive slave law is enacted, providing for the return of slaves who had escaped and crossed state lines.

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Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved African American blacksmith, organizes a slave revolt intending to march on Richmond, Virginia. The conspiracy is uncovered, and Prosser and a number of the rebels are hanged. Virginia's slave laws are consequently tightened.

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Congress bans the importation of slaves from Africa.

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The Missouri Compromise bans slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri.

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Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 coconspirators are hanged.

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Nat Turner, an enslaved African American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history. He and his band of followers launch a short, bloody, rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia institutes much stricter slave laws.

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William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing the Liberator, a weekly paper that advocates the complete abolition of slavery. He becomes one of the most famous figures in the abolitionist movement.

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The Wilmot Proviso, introduced by Democratic representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, attempts to ban slavery in territory gained in the Mexican War. The proviso is blocked by Southerners, but continues to enflame the debate over slavery.

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Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground Railroad.

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The continuing debate whether territory gained in the Mexican War should be open to slavery is decided in the Compromise of 1850: California is admitted as a free-state, Utah and New Mexico territories are left to be decided by popular sovereignty, and the slave trade in Washington, DC is prohibited. It also establishes a much stricter fugitive slave law than the original, passed in 1793.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. It becomes one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments.

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Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The legislation repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and renews tensions between anti- and proslavery factions.

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The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.

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John Brown and 21 followers capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.), in an attempt to launch a slave revolt.

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The Confederacy is founded when the deep South secedes, and the Civil War begins.

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President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring "that all persons held as slaves" within the Confederate state "are, and henceforward shall be free."

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The Civil War ends. Lincoln is assassinated. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery throughout the United States. On June 19 slavery in the United States effectively ended when 250,000 slaves in Texas finally received the news that the Civil War had ended two years earlier.

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Read more: Slavery in America History Timeline (Abolition of Slave Trade, 14th Amendment)

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AUDIO VERSION  I  PRINT VERSION

MESSAGE FROM AUBREY R. TAYLOR: "We must actively participate in the process of selecting our "Public Servants" on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Proverbs 29:2 says, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." So let's do our best to try to elect righteous "Public Servants" using the acronym 'FREEDOM' during the early voting period (Monday, October 20th through Friday, October 31st) right on through Election Day!"


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The individuals featured on this page are not connected to one another directly or indirectly unless noted. Being featured on this page does not constitute and endorsement or recommendation by Aubrey R. Taylor Communications unless noted.