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solutions to problems.” Jan Reid, the lead editor of Mauro’s book, puts it more simply: “He has a gift for making government do stuff.” y ou might think, under these circumstances, that Texas Democrats would be rallying to Mauro’s banner. Hall praised Mauro, for example, but when asked should he run for governor, said, “I haven’t thought about it…. That’s a decision he’s going to have to make for himself.” On the East Texas trip, most puzzling was the hesitant reaction of party regulars to Mauro’s potential candidacy. In Crockett, Mary Moore, running against Steve Ogden for state senate, praised Mauro highly for his loyalty and hard work, and pointed out that Bush’s “tax reform” has already failed, as school districts are raising appraisals statewide to compensate for the increase in the homestead exemption. Did she think Mauro should take Bush on? “Hmmmm,” she hesitatedand after a few moments said that she would support his decision, whatever it was. In Lufkin, freshman State Representative Jim McReynolds, after noting that the “exceedingly personable” Bush apparently has his sights more on Washington than Austin, said much the same. Former State Treasurer Martha Whitehead welcomed Mauro at the Longview bookstore, asked him about the difficulty of raising serious money, then told me that before Mauro decided, he needed to think long and hard about his family, and what they would go through during the campaign. All these folks, Mauro’s friends and allies, were supportive and thoughtful, but they also seemed painfully conscious of Bush’s intimidating lead in the polls. Only Mary Knott Perkins, the ex-state Board of Education member who was herself defeated in a nasty campaign by fundamentalist Donna Ballard, was entirely upbeat in her counsel to the almost-candidate. She stopped by Mauro’s noon Lufkin book-signing, held at a funky cubbyhole called the First Edition, to encourage Mauro to ignore the caution of Austin conventional wisdom. “I told him I hoped he would run,” said Perkins. “He has tremendous energy and ability, and we need a strong candidate for Texas at the top of the ticket, who is focused on the state and not on national office.” The Lufkin visit was relaxed and friendly, the most enthusiastic stop on an otherwise desultory day. It seemed perhaps to confirm Mauro’s judgment about Austin power-brokers. “Don’t listen to Bullock,” said one woman. “He’s just going through the change.” THE LAST DEMOCRAT? If Bush is to be defeated, how is it to be done? In recent interviews, Mauro has been reluctant to discuss specific campaign plans before he declares, but does say, “I will beat [Bush] three different ways. I will hold him accountable for his broken promises. I will show Texans how what I would run on would have impact on their lives and their family’s lives. And then, [I will run] on what I envision for Texas and Texans in the twenty-first century.” Mauro argues that Bush has not fulfilled even his own short list of priorities for state government: welfare reform, lower insurance rates through tort reform, education reform, and criminal justice reform. He expects to announce programs on all these issues, but says education will be the most important issue in the campaign. “Bush thinks that we can coast into the twenty-first century with his education policies, and I believe that we’re going to have to drastically change our education policies, or our kids in Texas are not going to have the tools to get the very best jobs in the twenty-first century.” In particular, Mauro plans to strengthen the statewide teacher certification program, with scholarship and pay incentives to encourage teachers to get certification, and for additional years of service. He promises a similar program to train and retain police: “Teachers and policemen are the most important people in our society, and yet we pay them like they were the least important.” Mauro’s highest profile as Land Commissioner has been on environmental issues. Significantly, he told a small group of Athens high school students that environmental issues are issues of public safety, specifically linking the idealike crime preventionto safe neighborhoods. He reiterated this position in a recent interview. “I believe [environmental issues] are quality of life issues, and I believe they’re health issues. And I believe every Texas family is concerned about them today.” He insists Texans are very concerned about the quality of the air they breathe and the water they drink, and that too.many people are contracting cancer or blood diseases that “ten years ago, nobody ever heard of.” He describes these as “environmentally driven diseases,” and is quick to cite statistics demonstrating the danger. “Bush has cut the hazardous waste site cleanup budget by 62 percent, since he took office,” Mauro charged. “He’s only cleaning up eighteen hazardous waste sites a year in this state right now, and there’s 2,200 of them. Over 40 percent of the household residences in this state are within ten miles of a hazardous waste siteand we’re going exactly in the wrong direction.” Asked what he would do about the TNRCC, responsible for direct oversight of environmental matters, Mauro was blunt: “First thing I’d do is get some people who honestly believe they’re going to change the status quo. The fact of the matter is, we don’t have a plan to clean up our water, we don’t have a plan to clean up our air, and we don’t have a plan to get the hazardous waste and superfund sites cleaned up in our neighborhoods. If we don’t have any one of those three, what’s the point of having a TNRCC?” In order to get a clean air plan, Mauro says he is ready to take on the so-called “grandfathered” industries, which have received pollution control exemptions in the past. “Think about this,” he says. “The whole reason we grandfathered all those industries, was, they promised they would close down [in a defined period]; they supposedly had a twenty, thirty, forty-year life. Forty-five years later they’re still in existencewe grandfathered them under the wrong premises….” Unless, he argues, a company can truly demonstrate that the pollution will stop within a definite period, it should receive no additional exemptions. Speaking a couple of days after the House vote approving the Texas-Maine-Vermont Compact, which would allow the storage of nuclear waste in West Texas, Mauro called the state’s Sierra “HE HAS TREMENDOUS ENERGY AND ABILITY, AND WE NEED A STRONG CANDIDATE FOR TEXAS AT THE TOP OF THE TICKET, WHO IS FOCUSED ON THE STATE AND NOT ON NATIONAL OFFICE.” OCTOBER 24, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7