Gates seeks Texas Railroad Commission seat

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Editorial by Gary Gates

Voters have an important decision to make in the runoff election on May 24. At the top of the ballot is the race for the open seat on the Texas Railroad Commission. My name is Gary Gates and I ask for your support in this race.

I am a successful businessman from Fort Bend County. My family and I live on a cattle ranch near Richmond, Texas, but my main business is running a real estate business with properties in six cities across the Greater Houston area. I began my business with two employees and a truck. Today, I own more than 5,000 apartment units and employ more than 350 Texans.

My wife Melissa and I have been married for 34 years and are blessed to have 13 children. Two natural born and 11 adopted kids make up our family. Opening our home to 11 children from rough circumstances has been a blessing for my family. Now, eight of my children have joined our family business and manage aspects of our real estate firm so I am able to commit my time to seeking the Railroad Commission office.

I entered this race with the goals of stopping federal regulations that hamper our economic growth, increasing the transparency of the agency, and preparing the agency to operate with reduced funding due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector. I am honored my message is being accepted as I was the leading vote recipient of all seven candidates in the race. I gained almost 30 percent of the vote in the primary and lead my opponent by more than 10 points going into the runoff.

My main focus as Railroad Commissioner will be to work for the citizens of Texas, not Austin insiders. I will support regulations to ensure a healthy oil and gas industry which in turn provides jobs, economic development, and a secure tax base. But know if you put your trust in me, I will always keep the interests of Texas citizens at the top of my agenda. I will also fight to keep federal regulations and the out-of-control Obama Administration in check so Texas producers can work to produce our state’s natural resources efficiently.

Another focus of my campaign is to increase the transparency of the agency by changing the name of the Commission to better represent its main duties. The Railroad Commission hasn’t had anything to do with trains for almost 25 years. The main focus of the agency is to regulate Texas energy production and gas utilities. The name of the agency should reflect that work so Texans know who to call if they have concerns. I prefer the Texas Energy Resources Commission but will consider alternatives as long as the final choice reflects the mission of the agency. It is time we bring the RRC into the light and select a name Texans can trust.

Finally, my business experience makes me the best choice in the race to prepare the agency for lean times ahead. As you know, the oil and gas industry is experiencing troubled economic times due to depressed commodity prices. As a result, the permits issued by the Commission are off by almost 30 percent and since most of the agency’s budget is derived from fees paid by the industry for permits, the Commission is facing a budget shortfall. My understanding of budgeting, prioritizing expenses and managing business cycles have prepared me to guide the agency through the current down cycle.

Please remember early voting in the runoff starts May 16 and the election is May 24.