As a fifth-generation Texas rancher, Texas Railroad Commission candidate Jim Wright said he understands the important relationship the energy industry has with the state and its ability to revitalize and rejuvenate the economy.

“My background is mainly environmental, and my company has worked a lot for that industry,” said Wright. “I’ve seen some things that we need to do to make changes that can be in stride with not only our economic development, but (continuing) protection to our environment.

“So when you’re asking why I ran this race, those are the reasons, and some of the issues that we’re standing on is creating more transparency in the agency, creating a better foot forward to educate people on the importance of what this agency and our industry has on people here in Texas,” he said. “It’s also important to me that we develop and plan better for our future so that we have sustainability in our market, so that we don’t experience peaks and valleys that cause people to lose their job and their income.”

Wright, the Republican nominee, stopped for a meet-and-greet in Carthage at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, revealing his plan to enhance the state’s oil and gas industry.

Wright is a South Texas rancher, resident of Orange Grove and owner of several oilfield environmental service companies. He won the GOP nomination in a victory over incumbent Ryan Sitton during the March Republican Primary. Wright will face attorney and Democratic challenger Chrysta Castañeda in the upcoming November election.

The Texas Railroad Commission oversees regulation of Texas’ energy industry. More information about Wright’s campaign can be found at WrightforTexas.com.

“I’m running because my background is from the oilfield — petrochemical, utility industry — and (because of) my passion as growing and being raised in Texas and what the oil and gas industry means to our economy,” Wright said.

“I’ve been passionate about that all my life,” the Republican candidate said.

Wright started his first company in 1992. His first job on the environmental side was in the early ‘80s, working for a hazardous waste facility at the age of 19. According to his biography, it was at his first job where he began gaining a knowledge and understanding of the energy sector. Since then, he has used his hands-on experience to create a group of environmental services companies that service the energy industry, according to his campaign.

“Texas is the most important thing there is to me, and the citizens that will reside here, I want the best lifestyle in our nation, which is derived from what our foundation is, which is oil and gas,” Wright said. “That’s what led me to do this; and I’ve got good people that work at the companies that I own,” he said.

Wright said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s had to mainly rely on social media to reach constituents, but he’s willing to travel to speak before groups, if requested.

“If you need us to come somewhere, we’re there; and we’re trying to create more of a presence through having a chairperson in every county here in Texas, that (puts) our message forward,” he said. “It’s been successful, thus far.

“We’re trying to make sure we stay one step ahead of our opponent and we’re successful winning this race, (and) that we try to keep Texas conservative,” he said.

During the meet-and-greet, Wright listened to industry leaders express their desire for more oil and gas education in public schools.

Tommie Ritter Smith, president of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, expressed her appreciation of Panola College’s petroleum technology program, which is designed to help students prepare for careers in the oil and gas industry.

“It’s been a great thing for us,” she said.

Wright shared he, too, believes students need to know there are different pathways to success — and a two-year trade school offers that.

Some industry leaders who attended the meet and greet included local attorney Robert Sherman, who also co-owns Bigfoot Energy Services; and Cliff Todd, business development manager for Topcat Waste Management of Waskom and member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Todd thanked Wright for being willing to serve.

“It’s important that we have good people with your values that are willing to step up,” Todd told him.