DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The likely winner of the Democratic primary for Texas Governor, Beto O'Rourke, met with African-American elected leaders in Dallas on Feb. 7 to discuss their top priorities and concerns.
After the meeting at Paul Quinn College, O'Rourke emerged with State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas, State Representatives Rhetta, D-Garland and Carl Sherman Sr., D-Lancaster and various school board trustees, judges, and city council members.
"I came to share my vision for the state," said O'Rourke.
Public education and voting rights are among the top priorities they discussed. They all criticized the state Republican-majority backed election-integrity law that they said has led to applications for mail-in ballots to be rejected.
O'Rourke said if elected, he would make it easier to register to vote in Texas.
"That looks like online voter registration. We're one of the last states not to have done that. I want to implement that as Governor. It means automatic voter registration when you turn 18 or when you naturalize as a citizen."
O'Rourke and state leaders said they also discussed how to attract more people to become teachers. Some have left the profession because of the stress of teaching during the pandemic, and amid sharp debate and controversy over mask mandates, and the content of school library books and the course curriculum including whether Critical Race Theory is being taught in classrooms.
O'Rourke said, "We need to raise teacher pay. We need to cancel the STAAR test this year because there's already enough pressure on those educators and the kinds in front of them. And we need to listen to educators about the best possible solutions going forward."
Senator West said the candidates need to pay attention to Black voters.
He challenged both O'Rourke and Governor Greg Abbott, the presumed Republican nominee, to hold a debate before the November election at the campus.
"There should be a focus between the two candidates, the Democrat and Republican candidates, to come to Paul Quinn and have a debate and allow all Texans to hear their positions and look at their records."
O'Rourke accepted Senator West's invitation to a debate at Paul Quinn College. A spokesman for Governor Abbott's campaign said they will review all debate requests.
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