Beto bolsters support at campus rally


Brandon Donner

Beto O’Rourke walks with student journalists Barbara Gandica Martinez (left) and Alejandro Contreras (right) after the rally held at Dallas College North Lake Campus April 21. O’Rourke shared his vision for job improvements, free community college and Medicaid access for Texans.

Alejandro Contreras, Staff Photographer

Beto O’Rourke, El Paso native and Texas gubernatorial candidate, held a campaign rally April 21 at Dallas College North Lake Campus. O’Rourke spoke about his public education, jobs and health care plans to seek voter support for the upcoming Texas elections.

Residents from the area attended the rally with the hopes of hearing something new and refreshing from the Democratic candidate. Hundreds of people crowded around to hear O’Rourke’s views. Some held up signs and wore shirts with the slogan “Beto for Texas.”  

O’Rourke said, “We want to make sure that any Texan willing to work can look forward to a job.” He said Texas has more people working under a living wage than any other state.

To have a livable wage in Texas, the average person needs to make $48,000 a year, according to the World Population Review website.

Bushra Issa, a Dallas College student, said she first heard about O’Rourke hours before the event. 

A volunteer from O’Rourke’s staff asked whether Issa had registered for the event. Issa completed the form and turned her focus to O’Rourke. He was coming down a flight of stairs to stand in front of students, staff, faculty, residents and supporters while wearing a Dallas College hat.

“I hope he’s more in touch with the younger generation, especially since he’s doing a talk in a community college,” Issa said. “The fact that he’s here speaks volumes. By him coming to these small colleges says a lot because he’s building from the ground up.”


O’Rourke is facing off against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. On Nov. 8, the final decision will be made on who becomes the next governor of Texas. Abbott is seeking re-election for a third term.

“The political will exists among the elected representatives,” O’Rourke said. “It is just missing from the current governor right now. Listen, I want to just say this, I recognize that very often in politics, the perfect can become the enemy of the good.”

O’Rourke said property taxes of Texans cumulatively have increased $20 billion, or 40%, since Abbott has been in office. “I would call that inflation,” O’Rourke said. “Under Greg Abbott, your utility bills just over the last year have gone up on average $50 a month per ratepayer, I would call that inflation. This stuff that he just pulled on the U.S.-Mexico border, shutting down all international trade, two thirds of the produce that we rely on in the state of Texas rotting at the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge. You’re paying more for your groceries right now.”

Texas Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat, said the past session of the Texas Legislature was the worst in history. She said: “The reason is we have a governor that is leading an agenda that is toxic, full of hate. It’s racist, discriminates against women, against LGBT families, and it’s an attack on anything that is moral and decent.”


Free community college is a hot button issue for many politicians. According to the Education Data Initiative website, student loan debt in the U.S. totals $1.74 trillion. 

Dallas College offers a program to high school seniors to avoid incurring debt while seeking a higher education. According to the Dallas College website, Dallas County Promise covers the cost of tuition at any of the seven campuses of Dallas College for up to three years or the completion of an associate degree, whichever comes first.

O’Rourke said he was optimistic about seeing free community college education happen. “We see that happen here in Dallas College [with Dallas County Promise students],” he said. “They’re getting a community college education at no additional cost to them or to their parents. I think that’s a model that we should extend to other parts of Texas.”

O’Rourke said free college would not only benefit students, but also taxpayers through the return on investment on their tax dollars. 

Issa said: “I will be totally down for free community college. A lot of candidates say stuff like that. I noticed student debt is frozen. It would be great if they got rid of it. It will open the window for a faster and more beneficial route for school.”


Healthcare and the rising cost of accessibility to healthcare is also a  priority for O’Rourke. According to an article in the Austin-American Statesman, O’Rourke said Texas has left billions of dollars on the table by failing to expand Medicaid during Abbott’s tenure.

O’Rourke said he wants to expand Medicaid bringing in more federal dollars to Texas. He said expanding Medicaid would allow more uninsured or underinsured Texans to enroll in the program.

When O’Rourke opened the forum to questions, Issa was determined and eager to get an answer on why her best friend was denied disability. Issa said her friend was diagnosed with cancer, but she is young, single and does not have children. These were obstacles that prevented Issa’s friend from being eligible for coverage.

“I want to make sure that we’re recruiting more providers who look like their communities,” O’Rourke said. “I hate the fact that it is a privilege right now – that you’re lucky if you’re able to see a health care provider or fill that prescription. I don’t want to be jumping through the hoops of eligibility and all this other stuff. I just want to be able to deliver care.”


According to Bloomberg News, O’Rourke is behind Abbott by eight points in the most recent polls, but there are many campaign stops between now and Nov. 8.

Arthur Redcloud, an actor and seventh-generation descendant of Navajo Chief Redcloud, spent his afternoon listening for new ideas from O’Rourke. “It’s like getting the monster from underneath the bed,” Redcloud said. “Basically, Beto is better than Greg Abbott. I think Abbott is just too power hungry, so I think Beto is something new, something different. You can hear it in the way people speak–the way Abbott speaks and the way Beto speaks. Beto speaks from the heart or also from uncertainty from people’s reaction toward him. Abbott is more controlling with less emotion.”