Governor Greg Abbott hosted a round-table discussion at the New Days Community Church in Tyler to meet with East Texas leaders.
The event addressed a variety of topics including education, healthcare, and it also focused on the needs of the parishioners and their ideas for the future. While some were invited to attend the meeting one East Texas community leader says she was not on the invite list.
Pastor Reginald Garrett of New Days Community Church welcomed Governor Abbott to speak with the African American community in a closed meeting.
Dr. Shirley McKellar, who is challenging Congressman Louie Gohmert for the district 1 seat, says she asked the pastor if the meeting could be open to the public.
"So I spoke with him and he did tell me that it was for pastors only and I said 'well, we've been trying to get the governor to East Texas to the African American community for quite some time,'" she says.
While the pastor did inform McKellar that the meeting was not open to the public, she was later put on a list to attend by the pastor's assistant James Jones.
But when the day arrived, she was told she couldn't come.
"So I receive this phone call back from Mr. Jones and he says 'you're not allowed to come because you're a politician' and so I said 'well I'm not a politician I consider myself an American servant; I am a community leader,'" she says.
Governor Abbott's Press Secretary John Wittman says it was a private meeting that was invitation only.
He adds it is not true that McKellar wasn't invited because she is a politician and that she simply was not on the invite list.
During the round-table discussion community members spoke with the governor about a variety of topics impacting the community.
"I'm here today to talk especially to members of the African American community, leaders who can give me insight about what they think some of the challenges are and what some of the solutions are to make sure that we do a better job of preparing African Americans here in East Texas," Governor Abbott says.
Governor Abbott says that preparation includes jobs, education and better participation in the state of Texas.
"We talked about increasing funding, especially for teachers in our public schools, we talked about providing mental health, especially mental health counselors in our schools in part to help students but also in part to reduce possible challenges from school shootings," he says.
The governor says he plans to take these concerns and ideas back with him to Austin to better serve all people in Texas.
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