PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke stopped by Memorial High School in Port Arthur on Wednesday.
The Democratic candidate met with students and teachers at the school’s career and technology center to discuss improving technical education in Texas.
He said technical schools are a key part of Texas education.
"So, we see tremendous value in people who are graduating both college, and those who are career-ready right here in Port Arthur. This is the leading edge of public education in the state of Texas right now," Beto said.
He spoke with nursing, welding, and auto repair classes about how they can apply their skills to the real world.
He asked all the teachers one specific question.
"Are your students able to stay in Port Arthur? In other words, they don't have to go to other cities to look for jobs, are they able to find work here in the community," Beto said.
He said it's important students work in the city they grew up in once they graduate.
"To afford more options, more job opportunities for young people to have a reason to stay here and that’s going to make this community that much more successful in the long term, and Texas that much more successful in the long term."
Beto and Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie stressed the importance of Port Arthur having the infrastructure in place for these students to come back and work in the area they grew up.
"It’s a small investment for the taxpayer in Port Arthur to get a Dr. Williams back in this community,” Beto said. “I want to make clear that we are seeing young people educated both for careers and for future academic and college and secondary education success."
Beto also talked about teacher shortages caused by low wages.
"That we have a fair and equitable distribution of resources, and the people who will pay the price at the end of the day if we fail to do that is our students because it's going to be really hard to retain teachers when we can't pay them,” Beto said.
And as gas prices rise and supply chain issues continue, he said Texas can be the solution.
"That Texas is producing the energy resources that we need domestically, securing our energy independence from the rest of the world, including Russia, now that we are no longer import energy from that country,” Beto said. "As the ninth economy on planet earth, that’s Texas today, we have the resources to get this right we just lack the leadership at this point to connect them."
O’Rourke will be going up against Incumbent Greg Abbott in the race for Texas governor.