Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011. He is a 2012 Republican candidate for election to the unexpired term. Barry, a fourth generation Texan, has a unique blend of private and public sector experience and has long served the people of Texas with honor and distinction.
After growing up in Highlands, Texas; a working class neighborhood on the east side of Houston, Barry had a distinguished career in the banking industry. When the finance sector began selling increasingly complex, risky investments to local governments, Barry sounded the alarm to both his superiors and the public. In 2002, Barry left finance and soon thereafter began his career in public service by becoming a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office where he prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases.
In 2004, Governor Perry appointed Smitherman to the Public Utility Commission, where in 2007 he became Chairman. At the PUC, Barry managed with a keen eye on efficiency, ending unnecessary expenditures and programs, while managing a staff that crafted and oversaw one of the fastest-growing electric markets in the world.
By the time Barry left the PUC, he had cut the budget and cut staffing levels by 15%, all while resolving a greater percentage of customer complaints. In addition, once he became Chairman, Barry fired the Commission’s longtime Wall Street advisor and shepherded four utility refinancings himself at no cost to ratepayers. This move alone saved the electric utility customers in Texas over five million dollars in Wall Street advisor fees and hundreds of millions in interest savings.
The move from the PUC to the RRC is the next step forward for Barry to exercise his proven, free-market principled leadership within the energy sector. Since his appointment at the Railroad Commission, Barry has instituted an agency-wide review of agency processes and procedures with an eye towards increasing efficiency, promoting transparency, and being more responsive to the needs of Texans. This review has already caused Barry to propose and pass a policy change to allow licensed Commission employees to carry their handguns while carrying out state duties, as well as to begin a complete overhaul of the Commission’s enforcement procedures.
The energy industry in Texas faces new challenges. Smitherman has been an outspoken leader in the fight against the EPA’s misguided policies that threaten our nations energy security and Texas jobs. Barry will fight for a sensible energy policy that creates jobs in Texas and reduces our dependence on oil from hostile foreign nations.
Barry is a lifelong conservative and has been an active Republican for 30 years. An active primary voter, volunteer, donor and past GOP Convention Delegate, Barry is no stranger to the Party.
Active in his community, Barry has served on the Eanes Education Foundation and as coach to numerous youth sports teams.
Barry graduated from Texas A&M University receiving a BBA summa cum laude. He received his J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law while working at the State Capitol. Afterward he received a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard. While living in Houston he was Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at St. Thomas University.
Barry and his wife live in Austin with two of their four wonderful children. Their two oldest sons attend Texas A&M University. The Smithermans are active members of Lake Hills Church.