Fourteen years ago, Ken Gagliano moved to Plano, Texas, where he has experienced a life far different from Chicago, Illinois, where he was raised.
Gagliano grew up in a “Teamsters household.” Although his parents earned a modest living, they were able to send him to a private school as opposed to Chicago’s public school system. He saw firsthand the enormous disparity between educational opportunities available to children, many who lived in the same neighborhoods.
He also witnessed the isolated desperation of families working their way around “the political machine” of Chicago’s collectivist governing class.
“The forces in control were so enormous and powerful that, as an individual, your voice not only didn’t matter, but had the potential to be silenced in one way or another.”
Following college graduation, Gagliano moved to Texas. “The people and culture were very different, a shock for me compared to where I grew up … so was the amount of taxes I paid at my first well-paying job.”
He was no stranger to the danger of onerous government regulation, taxation, and the tendency for government policy to favor the politically connected over the average worker. “I have grown to better understand the devastating effects that over-taxation, over-regulation, political favors, overbearing unions, and dirty politics have on families and businesses…the lack of hope they create for those stuck inside the system.”
Exposure to the ideas of great philosophers such as John Locke and Milton Friedman, among others, helped challenge his views and political beliefs. Life experience as a youth and adult also played an influential role.
Three months after getting married, buying a house and starting a new life, the terror attacks of 9/11 were an abrupt wake-up call for Gagliano. He spent the next 10 years questioning his beliefs, studying political philosophy, learning how government operates at levels, and what control people have as citizens.
As a father of two daughters ages seven and nine, Gagliano personally faced an opportunity to make a difference inside his own school district of Plano ISD.
“I work to give parents and taxpayers more influence inside their local schools, by promoting the ideas of local control, autonomy and choice as opposed to many of the monopolistic views engrained in the culture of the current public system.”
He’s passionate about education reform and increasing parental choice more broadly. But he also believes in parental empowerment inside his district, and has helped support new candidates running for school board. Public accountability is paramount, especially at the local level where activism can be the most effective.
“I support candidates who understand they work for the people and will help put systems in place that protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses.”
Gagliano has been active in state and local campaigns for nearly four years. He utilizes his strong data analysis background to help grassroots candidates compete with their often well-funded, established opponents. He also personally knocks on doors, works at polling locations, phone banks, and sends emails to help educate his fellow neighbors. In 2015, his efforts helped elect candidates over sitting incumbents on the Plano ISD school board and on Plano’s City Council.
Gagliano says that becoming educated takes time, but is critical. “I spent a lot of time familiarizing myself with local issues, meeting with local politicians, councils and boards, and have gradually become a point of contact for information for other people in and around my community…It’s rewarding to help others.”
In contrast to Chicago’s corrupt and collectivist culture, Gagliano has developed a humbling reverence for America’s founding ideals— individual liberty, free markets and natural rights. “Texas is one of the few places left where these ideas still flourish,” he stated, “…and my family is proud to call Texas home.”
In 2014, Gagliano was elected as a Collin County Republican Party precinct chair and was later elected as a House District Caucus Chair. He hopes to use his experience and talents to continue to strengthen and shape the Republican Party by supporting more accountable representatives.
Gagliano’s spouse, Sarah, is a Family Practice Physician Assistant and is also engaged in volunteer work. She leads their daughters’ two Girl Scout troops, is on the Girl Scout Service Unit, and serves on her local PTA board.