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Democratic Candidates For Governor Debate

By BJ Austin

Dallas, TX –

The top two Democratic candidates for Texas Governor - Bill White and Farouk Shami - squared off in a statewide broadcast debate last night hosted by KERA and its media partners. KERA's BJ Austin reports.

The candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor took the stage for their first and only debate. Creating jobs was a recurring theme for Houston hair products millionaire Farouk Shami. He says that's why he's running for Governor - to bring jobs, and a lot of them, to Texas.

Shami: I will guarantee everybody a job. I am guaranteeing 100 thousand jobs in the first two years or I will give this state 10 million dollars.

Shami says green energy jobs are the way to go, and he is already planning solar panel factories in some Texas communities, starting in El Paso.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White says education and training for a changing job market is the key.

White: We ought to make sure that each person has access to job training. We need to do a better job of matching our community college and job training for the jobs that are actually there. And we need to do it for older workers, not just young workers.

White says the Governor cannot control the global economy, but can make sure that resources are available to help Texans take advantage of all opportunities.

Neither candidate supports school vouchers, but both agree public education in Texas needs improving. Farouk Shami says teachers need a raise. Bill White says the state's high drop out rate is an emergency that needs immediate attention. Both candidates also say NO to a Voter ID law that would require photo identification in order to vote in Texas.

But they split on support of a death penalty moratorium.

White: No, not in all cases because that would disrespect the juries and the victims and the criminal justice in those cases where there is no question of evidence used to convict. I don't think you use it as a blunt tool.

Shami: A moratorium should be placed. What we saw in the last few months and the last few years that a few people have been executed in our state of Texas and they were innocent. We cannot be just executing people without being sure.

Another split was over raising the gasoline tax to build more roads.

Shami says yes. White says no.

Shami: Yes I believe in raising the gas a little bit. You know everybody sharing. Oil companies should share with that. The federal government should share with that: the state share, the city, the county.

White: I think we've got start by have a multi-year plan to end the diversions from the current motor fuels tax: to give the public confidence that what they pay in gasoline taxes will go for the purpose for which they were intended.

On border security, Bill White wants to see local officials included in security discussions; streamlined security checks for frequent travelers, using biometrics. Farouk Shami says he would build bridges, not walls at the border. He wants to help businesses locate on both sides, providing "legal" access to jobs.

There are five OTHER candidates for Governor on the March 2nd Democratic primary ballot, but they did not meet the criteria for inclusion in the debate. Early voting begins February 16th.

Archived Video of Monday's Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

Email BJ Austin