The Athens Review
Republican candidate for Texas Governor Tom Pauken stopped in Athens on Thursday afternoon to share his ideas for the future of the state.
With incumbent Rick Perry stepping down after this term, the GOP primary for the governorship will be wide open in 2014.
Pauken, with a long background in government and politics, thinks it’s time for him to make a bid for the state’s high office.
“I think this is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” Pauken said. “In my view, we’ve got to go back and put together a coalition at the grass-roots level to represent the voice of the middle-class Texans.”
Many Texans feel like they no longer have a voice in Washington or in Austin, and Pauken wants to change that view.
“A lot of good things are happening in Texas, but my sense is that at the state level it’s become too much of a top-down operation,” Pauken said. “They talk about general issues but don’t really address the problems facing our state.”
Pauken served as Texas Workforce Commission chairman from 2008 to 2012 and believes there are jobs available in the state for people with the right vocational training.
“One of my first visits as chairman was to East Texas over in the Longview area,” Pauken said. “I remember employers telling me, ‘Tom, we’ve got a shortage of skilled workers and yet, we have an educational system in Texas which is focusing on everybody going to a four-year university.”
The tests such as TAAS, TAKS and STAAR require students to spend a major portion of their time studying for exams rather than preparing for a career.
“Schools are measured by how they do on those tests and that’s not real learning,” Pauken said. “It also has the effect of cutting off vocational education courses.”
Pauken said he is part of a coalition that helped pass HB 5 in the past legislature that recognizes the importance of vocational education.
“You’ve got to give people the opportunity to come out of high school with an industry-certified permit or license,” Pauken said.
Pauken served four years with the Reagan administration and believes solid policies are the key to restoring confidence in government. Pauken believes there is a disconnect between citizens and the government.
“It’s not just conservatives or Tea Party members,” Pauken said. “It’s parents and everyday people who don’t think they are being heard.”