White to work on education
Former Mayor Bill White appears to have a clear path to November’s gubernatorial ballot.
White leads Farouk Shami in the Democratic primary 59 percent to 12 percent, according to the Feb. 23 Public Policy Polling survey. The primary election is scheduled for March 2.
White, a businessman who served as deputy secretary of energy in the Clinton administration from 1993-95, said his primary focus if elected governor would be on improving education in Texas.
“The most important business of the state of Texas is educating our young people,” White said via e-mail. “From preschool through graduate school, I will work to increase access to high-quality preschool programs for all children to enhance the quality of public education in urban, rural, large and small school districts so our students will graduate. (I also plan) to make post-high school education at vocational schools, community colleges and universities affordable for Texas families.”
White said he decided to run for governor because he felt state leaders have not focused on improving education for Texans, therefore hurting the state’s economy.
“For too long, we have lagged behind other states in developing our greatest asset — our people — to compete in the 21st century economy,” he said via e-mail. “About one-third of our students drop out of high school, which lowers their lifetime earnings potential. And many of our students who do finish high school cannot afford to attend college because of skyrocketing tuition rates.
“Our younger generations are not achieving the same educational levels as our older generation, and that trend must be reversed.”
White also believes it is time for Texans to hold the government accountable, and he will work on improving the state’s economy by “squeez(ing) the most out of every dollar.”
“I will be a governor who puts the future of Texas first and makes government accountable to taxpayers again,” he said. “I know how to work with people from diverse backgrounds and political perspectives to bring people together and get things done with transparency, respect and accountability. … I’ll take the same approach to Austin.”
As mayor, White implemented several programs — finding Hurricane Katrina evacuees refuge and eventually homes, SAFEClear Programs, which quickly removed stalled vehicles from freeways, Stop Trashing Houston, which dissuaded littering and Get Moving Houston, a fitness program to reduce obesity in the city — but the one he said he’s most proud of is the energy efficiency home and building retrofit program.
This is the initiative he would like most to take to Austin, if elected.
“We weatherized thousands of older homes in Houston, many of which were owned by seniors or others on a fixed income,” White said. “We made the homes more energy efficient, saving homeowners, on average, over 10 percent on their electric bills.”
White said because of the program, Houston is now in the process of retrofitting “millions of square feet of city-owned buildings to increase their energy efficiency.”
He believes programs such as these not only save money, but also promote environmental protection.
White was elected to his first term as mayor in 2003 and served for two more consecutive terms, winning each election by more than 60 percent. He was re-elected by a margin of 86 percent in 2007 and by 91 percent while running unopposed in 2005.
White was born in San Antonio and later attended Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
He later studied law at the University of Texas before becoming partner at Susman Godfrey LLP.
White has also served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Wedge Group, a Texan real estate developer, and chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.
Thursday: Republican Rick Perry
Friday: Republican Debra Medina