Whitehouse Resident Gilbert Kicks Off Run For Governor
By DAYNA WORCHEL
Hank Gilbert, Democratic candidate for governor, officially kicked off his statewide campaign for the office at his headquarters in Tyler on Sunday before about 30 supporters.
The kickoff is part of a 13-city "Road to Prosperity" tour, with plans to travel through Wednesday to Dallas, Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Austin, San Antonio, Austin and Lufkin.
Gilbert, 49, a former educator, says the first thing he wants to fix is the state's education system. He has plans to reveal what he calls a comprehensive reform plan for students in kindergarten through 12th grade on Monday.
"This will be the biggest educational plan since House Bill 72 was passed in 1984," said Gilbert, who declined to give specific details on Sunday.
That bill enacted sweeping reforms of the public school system, according to the Texas Education Association Web site. It provided a pay raise for teachers, revamped the system of public school finance to funnel more money to property-poor school districts, and took many other steps toward the goal of improving the academic achievement of students.
A former high school agriculture teacher in two East Texas school districts, Gilbert said it is more important than ever to attract more jobs and business to Texas. There are a lot of companies who want to do business in Texas, he said, but that is difficult without an adequately educated population and high dropout rate.
"All I want to do is go to Austin, and if I don't make meaningful change, you can fire me," he told the group of supporters who cheered for him as he spoke.
No stranger to politics, Gilbert ran as the Democratic nominee for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture in 2006.
Gilbert said he admires the way the city of Tyler has a "pay-as-you-go system" for improving the city, referring to capital improvements the city has made without going into debt. He said he wants the same system for the state of Texas.
The married Whitehouse resident and father of two teenage boys also criticized Gov. Rick Perry for appointing himself as a "king" for the past nine years.
Gilbert said Perry denied the fact that the state is in a recession during a speech in Houston last week.