Connor Flanagan and Paul Greco, both seeking the Democratic nomination for state representative in District 64, said they want to address education, the cost of college, local control of government and alternative energy sources if chosen to run against the Republican candidate in November.
Greco, 54, is a former firefighter who’s worked to pass legislation to make the occupation safer with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in the past.
Flanagan, 21, is majoring in political science and radio, television and film at the University of North Texas, where Greco formerly taught art classes.
Both candidates said their primary concern is education at the kindergarten through 12th grade and college levels. Greco said he agreed with Bernie Sanders’ plan to make college partially free.
“I know Texas is looking into what they call a 60/30 plan,” Greco said. “Sixty percent of Texans will have two years of higher education by the year 2030, which is a pretty good plan. I’d like to see it become more affordable.”
Flanagan said he’d prefer a merit-based system for making college more affordable.
“What I want to do is implement a plan that says if you are in college and you do well and try hard, then you don’t have to worry about paying as much tuition,” he said. “I think that if people were given some incentive to try harder, then I think people would make better grades and be more successful.”
Greco said, at the kindergarten to 12th-grade level, he sees charter schools as causing more problems than they solve.
“It’s just trying to privatize the school system,” he said. “There’s no increase in better students. They’ve had since 1991 to prove this, and 85 percent of them show the same results as anybody else.
The only thing I can see is that they’re breaking unions and lowering teachers’ pay.”
Both candidates said they would push for more local government control, citing last year’s state legislative frack ban decision as an example of local government being unfairly overruled.
“It was really House Bill 40 that made me want to run. What’s happening in Austin and what the people want here are obviously two different things,” Flanagan said. “My generation, like I’ve said before, eventually we’re going to inherit the future, and we want to inherit the future on our terms.”
Greco said he saw the state frack ban decision as hypocritical.
“We’ve got local control of our schools, but we don’t have enough brains to have local control of our air quality? We’re not smart enough to take care of that part?” he said. “It’s like they’re talking out of two sides of their faces. I’m big-time into renewable energy. It’s time to move forward.”
In addition, Flanagan said he’d also push for the decriminalization of marijuana in Texas, a position he plans to add to his campaign website.
“Everyone talks about Colorado and how much money they’re making, but they’re not talking about how much money they’re saving by not prosecuting those crimes, and I think that money is so much more significant than the tax dollars,” he said.
RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.
Born in: Houston
Education: bachelor’s from Stephen F. Austin State University, master’s from the University of North Texas
Experience: firefighter in Bryan and Austin, member of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations from 1979 to 1991, elected delegate for the Obama campaign in 2008, art professor at UNT, Tarrant County College and North Central Texas College until 2013.
Born in: Houston
Education: Currently a political science and radio, television and film undergraduate student at the University of North Texas.
Experience: Youth Group member at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, part-time file clerk.