Last Thursday I attended a forum that included 5 of the 6 Republican candidates for Texas Railroad Commissioner. You may wonder why I would care.
The reason is that the Texas Railroad Commission does not regulate the railroads in Texas.
The Texas Railroad Commission regulates the lifeblood of Texas, the Oil and Gas industry. What the RR Commission decides determines what the future of our state looks like. We are currently in the middle of the biggest oil boom in the history of Texas and we better know who is running it and what they want to do! !
Last Thursday, I made up my mind.
At the forum were Becky Berger, Christi Craddick, Roland Sledge, and Greg Parker. Barry Smitherman was represented by an associate that took questions from his point of view. Warren Chisum, though he agreed to be there, informed us two days before the forum that he would NOT be there.
Here is my take on what I saw and heard:
I will start from the left of the table as they sat in the forum and end with the one that was not present or represented.
The following two are running for the unexpired vacancy that is for 2 years.
Barry Smitherman is the current chairman of the RR Commission as he was appointed to take the place of a commissioner that vacated his seat. Smitherman has NOT been elected to the commission. I am concerned that he could not make the time to come to South Texas, where a large proportion of the Oil and Gas industry is located, to present his views. The views presented by his “spokesman” were pat and very smooth. But, I am concerned that Smitherman is one of the “good old boys”, the ones we are needing to be rid of. He seems to think he has it made and doesn’t need to campaign in South Texas. I will NOT vote for him to continue.
Greg Parker is a newcomer to this area of politics but he has been County Commissioner and has a good education in politics and business in general. Greg made several very encouraging statements about the direction he would take the Commission if elected. In particular, he is very much interested in reigning in the EPAs attempt to strangle the oil and gas industry of Texas. Greg Parker WILL get my vote for the 2 year unexpired term.
The next five are running for the 6 year term that is becoming available .
Roland Sledge is an old oil and gas man and a lawyer that recently decided to run for this opening. He does not have any political experience, an advantage in my opinion, and he does know the industry. But, he is BOURING. I thought I would fall asleep during his presentations. He just didn’t grab my interest enough to keep me awake!
Christi Craddick is from an old Texas political family. This is, again, the “good old boys” camp. I am not enthused by the way things are going now so wont vote for the status quo. Craddick seems to be running on two planks, first is her “Old Name” and second is that she is a lawyer. During her presentations she referred to herself as “I am a lawyer” about once every 3 sentences. After the forum I asked he about this and she said, “Well, I am a lawyer!” to which I responded, “If I was a leper I would not go around town telling everyone I was a leper.” She seems to have an elevated opinion of herself solely because of her status of having a law degree. Law is NOT the “be all and end all” of politics or civil discourse.
Becky Berger is a geologist. She knows the business. She knows fracking procedures and she gave the best, over all, answers to the questions. I didn’t catch her in any “bad” answers. Like Greg Parker, she is appalled by the over reaching of the EPA into Texas matters that are in no way affecting the environment as can be and have been proven in court many times. Even after loosing in court, the EPA continues with their assaults. Becky will fight that tooth and nail. I WILL vote for Becky Berger to fill the 6 year term.
Warren Chisum at first agreed to be there just 6 weeks before the event then called 2 days before the event to back out. This is inexcusable unless for a death or sickness in the family…and it wasn’t for that reason. He didn’t even have the courtesy to send a representative to state his case for election. He seems to be running on his name which is well-known in Texas politics. I will NOT be voting for him, hell, I don’t even know where he stands!!!
It may look as though I deliberately selected the only two that did not have law degrees, but that isn’t so. It wasnt until after I had made my selections, after hearing them speak, that I actually looked at their backgrounds and realised that the two I had selected, because they made the most sense, were also not lawyers. Maybe there is a lesson there???
Greg Parker is a business man with a good conservative bent that knows the job of Commissioner. I will vote for Parker.
Becky Berger is a geologist that grew up in the oil and gas industry and has a good conservative bent. I will vote for Berger.
The two of them will bring real expertise to the commission and not “good old boy” politics.