Gubernatorial candidate Tom Pauken is making his way through Central Texas this week as he continues his campaign to replace Rick Perry as the state’s next top executive in 2014.
Pauken, a Republican, visited Killeen on Wednesday to attend a governmental affairs luncheon hosted by the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce at Central Texas College, and moved on to make stops in Temple on Wednesday afternoon before heading to San Antonio today.
Pauken, who served as chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission from 2008 to 2012, spoke with the Herald about his campaign. Pauken, 69, said he wanted to change the current culture of politics in Austin, which he believes is too heavily influenced by power-brokers with deep pockets.
“I think there is a real concern about the amount of influence of big money power brokers,” Pauken said. “I think a lot of regular people have given up, and think everyone is just a career politician.”
However, Pauken pointed to government success stories, too.
Pauken pointed to the recent passage of House Bill 5, which reformed the state’s standardized testing system, as an example of how consensus and cooperation could create political change.
“Education reform was a grass-roots movement,” said Pauken, who was a vocal supporter of the bill as it made its way through the legislative process. “It was parents, teachers, local businesses ... the good news about HB5 was that we all got together to support it.”
Pauken also spoke about how he would serve veterans and the military as governor.
“Fort Hood is critical to our state,” Pauken said, pointing to the economic benefits of the post and the fact that many veterans retire in the area.
Pauken, a Vietnam veteran, stressed the importance of helping veterans make the transition from the military into the civilian workforce.
Pauken noted his efforts as Texas Workforce Commission chairman to assist veterans, including the creation of the Texas Veterans Leadership Program, a peer-to-peer program run by veterans. He also said he worked with entities such as Central Texas College to allow military training to count toward college credit.
“Veterans are going to be very high on my agenda,” Pauken said. “We need to get our veterans back to work.”
Pauken is a Victoria native who now lives in Port Aransas.