Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Texas needs a change of leadership. Strayhorn is the person for the job."


Strayhorn best for reform

October 22, 2006
The Waco Tribune Herald
Copyright 2006

Because the Texas Constitution limits the powers of the governor, the person who holds that position needs to provide strong leadership.

On Nov. 7, voters will select the person who will act as the state government’s top leader for the next four years.

The Tribune-Herald editorial board recommends Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Four major candidates for governor will split the votes in this election. It is likely that the next governor will take office without the support of a majority of Texans.

Rick Perry, who ascended to the office from lieutenant governor in 2000 after Gov. George W. Bush’s successful presidential election, is the Republican candidate. He was elected to office in 2002.

The Democratic candidate is Chris Bell, a former Houston city council member and member of Congress.

Strayhorn, in her second term as state comptroller, is running as an independent.

She is a former teacher, school board president, Austin mayor and member of the powerful Texas Railroad Commission.

The other independent in the race is Kinky Friedman, a musician, author and comedian.

Considering the state of affairs in Austin over the past few legislative sessions and in numerous special sessions, a strong argument can be made that Texas suffers from weak leadership.

Strayhorn has a long record of taking bold positions and standing up to members of her own political party who wanted her to back down and be a team player.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of Perry’s weak leadership was when he turned the reins of state government over to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The now-indicted DeLay flew to Austin and was allowed to bring lawmaking to a halt while he shuttled about throughout the Capitol building whipping the GOP lawmakers into line on a second-time-this-decade redrawing of congressional districts.

Perry previously told Texans that his priority was passage of a school finance reform bill. Instead of putting that promised priority first, Perry allowed DeLay to become the de facto leader of state government in that unfortunate chapter of politics run amok.

The school teachers and children of Texas had to wait while the Legislature, under DeLay’s leadership, developed a redistricting plan designed to hurt the election prospects of Democratic congressional candidates.

Under Perry, bipartisanship has become a rare commodity, which is unfortunate. His predecessor as governor, Bush, worked to foster bipartisanship in state government.

As comptroller, Strayhorn’s job has been to collect state taxes and make sure budgets are balanced, among other duties. When she failed to go along to get along, she had popular state performance reviews taken away from her office. She also was accused of dispensing favors. A subsequent state audit cleared her of those charges but steeled her resolve to bring strong, independent leadership to the governor’s office.

Strayhorn has more experience in state government than Bell, another qualified candidate.

She has detailed knowledge to help improve Texas public schools retain quality teachers and to make higher education more affordable.

She promises to institute needed ethics reforms, limit the influence of lobbyists, ensure transparency in budgeting, foster bipartisanship and reinstate the cost-saving Texas Performance Reviews and the Texas School Performance Reviews.

Texas needs a change of leadership. Strayhorn is the person for the job.

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