BIG COUNTRY, Texas (BIGCOUNTRYHOMEPAGE) – During this week’s episode of Big Country Politics, News Director Manny Diaz interviewed Thierry Tchenko, a 2017 McMurray alumnus who is currently running for the US Senate with the intention of challenging Ted Cruz.
Tchenko shared that he was inspired to run because he believes Texans need stronger advocates to meet their needs.
“Texans aren’t getting their needs met by everyday politicians. We have a ton of problems in this state. And we need someone in Washington who’s going to be looking out for everyday Texans. And when you think about cold Collin and Roland, they’ve been in office, but what have they done to make the lives of people better? And that’s an important question that we have to answer,” Tchenko said. “And don’t take my word for it. You can look at their record and see what they’ve done. And it’s not good enough. And so for me, all my career, whether I’ve been an organizer or nonprofit executive providing home repairs to seniors, vets, and low-income families, I’ve delivered, and I plan on doing that in the Senate.”
After the midterm elections in November of 2022, Tchenko felt that there was a disconnect between issues the everyday people deal with and what is being discussed with politicians. To combat this, he began a series called ‘Talking Texas.’
“While we travel the state, and just talk to folks on the ground and highlight their perspectives. And I’ll ask them four main questions. What do you do? Where are you from? What issues do you care about? And what keeps you up late at night? As I was traveling the state and I was in Uvalde, I was in Central Texas, urban and rural; we went all over. We recorded about 11 episodes,” Tchenko shared. “And there were two things that were clear. One, that there’s a true disconnect that Texans are not getting their needs, sir. But also, there was a conviction that I started feeling for the race. So I took some time praying about it and talked to my wife, and I decided that I needed to get in this race.”
Tchenko stated that during his travels, he heard people all over the state share that they want a new way to move forward.
“There’s a huge opportunity. Texans are really frustrated as we’ve been traveling the state. I mean, just this week alone, I was in Rains County, was in Bowie County, and East Texas, and ended up coming back here it was in Lubbock and San Angelo. I’m hearing the same thing. People are frustrated, and they want a new way forward. And that’s what we’re creating that’s really going to be focused on serving everyday Texans,” Tchenko shared.
He shared that the most common thing Texans are frustrated with is inflation and the cost of living.
“Folks are talking a lot about inflation and not being able to make enough money to really be able to take care of basic responsibilities, like paying rent or their mortgage. And when you think about it, and Lueders, Texas, which is 30 minutes north of Abilene, the average median income is $29,000 a year. So you’re not even giving people the chance at being able to take care of their families. And we need a new way forward. We need someone in Washington that’s going to be thinking about the people in Lueders or Putnam. And that’s what I plan on doing,” Tchenko explained.
When it comes to education, he advocates for better funding, especially in underserved districts.
“We have to fund our public schools, and that has to be a priority. And even though, you know, school funding public school fund is primarily a state issue. There is work that we can do on a federal level to bring down dollars to underserved school districts, school districts like Abilene ISD, where you have about 7000 kids that benefit from Title One funding. That’s something that I’ll work to do is make sure that we’re bringing as many dollars down to serve our kids because school vouchers, it’s not just an education issue. It’s an anti-rural issue. And that’s what Ted Cruz wants to bring forward, which is just to serve his corporate donors. And again, we need someone that’s serving everyday Texans and not looking to their donors,” Tchenko expressed.
The border and immigration have become a major topic of discussion, particularly in the southwest region of the country. While many take a stance on either border security or valuing migrants, Tchenko believes that both can be accomplished simultaneously.
“I think a United States Senator from Texas has to be leading the way on the issue. And when we usually have that conversation about immigration, we did talk about it from the standpoint of border security or valuing migrants; I believe we can do both,” Tchenko shared. “For folks that are coming, leaving horrible conditions, we can have a pathway to citizenship and allow them to help our Texas economy, especially with the labor shortage, being able to think about ways of being able to implement a real guestworker program so that folks that want to come and help our agriculture or manufacturing industries can come on a seasonal basis, make their wages and then be able to go back. But then also from a border security standpoint, being able to look at our technology on the border and say we can upgrade our sensors, we can upgrade our cameras, and then also higher and more immigration judges.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, has proposed a national minimum standard for abortion, sparking debates in Congress. Tchenko advocates for protecting vulnerable women, holding men accountable, addressing financial issues, and establishing a strong support system for women.
“We need a new way forward on the issue. For far too long, for about 50 years, we’ve been in gridlock, where you have both sides, that are not actually coming together and having a real conversation on abortion. We have to be able to protect our vulnerable women, make sure that we’re holding men accountable as well, and have support systems in place in our communities so that women are able to have the support that they need in order to be able to have good situations,” Tchenko said. “And so data shows that women that have abortions, they said the number one reason that they’re having an abortion is because of financial issues. And the second reason is because of a lack of a support system. We need government leaders that are stepping up to the plate and actually working to help the lives of women across the state.”
In response, he is advocating raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and more accessible healthcare.
It’s also going into communities and being able to put resource centers, so that women are able to go there, especially single mothers that don’t have the support system within their family, to be able to go and get the resources that they need from a work standpoint or healthcare standpoint, that’s what we need in the state. And healthcare is another big issue. 20% of our state doesn’t have health insurance. That’s the highest rate in the country. We need someone who’s introducing a bill to make sure that every single person in this state has affordable and accessible health insurance. And that’s something that I’m hearing all over the state as I travel in urban parts like Houston and Dallas, but also when I go and talk to cotton farmers, right, we need someone stepping up and being a leader,” Tchenko explained.
He mentioned that Florida increased its minimum wage, and data shows that inflation was not heavily affected. In contrast, Texas has not increased its minimum wage since 2009.
“So with inflation with the cost of living adjustments, it’s important for us to be able to raise that baseline because, for many people in our state that work in corporate roles, they’re able to get a cost of living adjustment. But why is it that essential workers aren’t able to get that same cost of living adjustment? That’s not right. And so, for me, I plan on introducing a $15 minimum wage for families in Texas,” Tchenko added.
Senator Ted Cruz and others have discussed term limits but Tchenko believes the root of the debate is electing the right people to office.
“Really, the priority for me more than term limits is making sure that we’re electing people that are going to lead. They’re going to be looking out for everyday people like us. That, to me, is a priority. Now, term limits is a conversation that I’m open to having,” Tchenko said. “I think that the reason why those conversations come up is because people are dissatisfied with the folks that are representing them. And that’s more of a people issue than it is a system issue. If we elected good people that are working for everyday folks, then I think you’ll hear less conversations about term limits.”
There is currently a discussion about changing the dress code in the Senate. Tchenko said while this is somewhat significant, people in office should focus on more pressing matters.
“I’m less concerned about a dress code change and more concerned about making sure that we have leaders that are introducing legislation, co-sponsoring legislation to make the lives of people in the state better. I think a lot of times, we like to focus on the exterior and not saying that it’s insignificant, but the priority and the focus should always be on what are you doing to make the lives of people,” Tchenko shared. “So, when we have these conversations about dress code, or about the way that people are acting in certain ways, to me, it’s not as productive, not productive conversation. Our focus should be on policy… I can dress up in a suit and tie every day, but that doesn’t mean that I’m working for the people of Texas. So the priority should be the work. What are you doing to get the job done to make sure that our state is in a better position?”
Visit Tchenko for Texas to learn more about Tchenko’s beliefs and values.