About Chairman Smitherman
Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman by his colleagues in February 2012. In July 2012, Chairman Smitherman won the Republican Primary Runoff with 62% of the vote. On November 6, 2012, Barry won the statewide General Election with 74% of the vote, receiving over 4.5 million votes. He is a fourth generation Texan, with a unique blend of private and public sector experience.
After growing up in Highlands, Texas, a working class neighborhood on the east side of Houston, Barry had a distinguished 17 year career in public finance, where he advised state and local governments on ways to save hundreds of millions of dollars. Barry has also served as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office specializing in prosecuting family assaults and DWIs.
In 2004, Smitherman was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Public Utility Commission. He was reappointed in 2007, and was promoted to Chairman that same year. At the PUC, Barry managed with a keen eye on efficiency, ending unnecessary expenditures and programs while leading a staff that oversaw the fastest-growing, customer driven, electric market in the world. By the time Barry left the PUC, electricity rates were the lowest in 10 years and he cut the budget and cut staffing levels, all while increasing the agency’s performance.
Since joining the Railroad Commission, more drilling permits have been issued than any recent 12 month period and permit turn around times have been dramatically reduced. This is part of a top-to-bottom review designed towards increasing efficiency, promoting transparency, and being more responsive to the needs of Texans.
Barry worked his way through Texas A&M University and earned his B.B.A. summa cum laude. He then earned his J.D. at The University of Texas School of Law while working at the state capitol. Afterward, he earned his M.P.A. from Harvard University and received the school’s first Joel Leff Fellowship in Political Economy.
Barry currently serves as Texas’ representative on the Southern States Energy Board, as Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee, and on the Coastal Land Advisory Board. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin, and The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law. Barry has previously served two terms on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee, as an ex officio member of the ERCOT Board of Directors, Vice President of the Southwest Power Pool Regional State Committee and as an Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at St. Thomas University. He formerly served on the Ballet Austin, and Eanes Education Foundation Board of Directors.
Barry and his wife of 26 years, Marijane, live in Austin with two of their four wonderful children. Their two oldest sons are engineering students at Texas A&M University. The Smithermans are members of Lake Hills Church.