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Commissioner of the General Land Office

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  • Valerie Alessi (G)

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    George P. Bush (R) Energy Consultant

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    John F. Cook (D) Texas Land Commissioner

  • Justin Knight (L)

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Biographical Information

Length of residency in Texas:

Occupation/main source of income:

Education (include all degrees):

Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:

Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:

Previous public offices sought or held:

How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

Who are your top three contributors?

Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings? If so, please explain:

Have you ever been involved in any civil lawsuits or declared personal or professional bankruptcy? If so, please explain:

What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?

What political leader do you most admire and why?

Why are you running for this office?

Why should voters choose you over your opponent?

Texas schools have long benefited from oil and gas production on state lands. How long can that production remain a significant revenue source, and what should be done to enhance it?

Would you favor the state or federal government adopting uniform regulations to govern hydraulic fracturing or should those rules be left to municipalities?

What is your assessment of the health of Texas' bays and estuaries?

What needs to be done to maintain adequate housing for Texas veterans?

How would you sustain Texas' beaches against the constant challenge of coastal erosion?

How would you alter the definition of what constitutes public beach property and what constitutes beachfront private property?

What can be done to promote greater public access to Texas lands?

What is your position on offshore wind farms?

Does the Alamo belong under the Land Commissioner's purview? How do you assess Jerry Patterson's management of it so far?

During his tenure, Jerry Patterson generated significant controversy over his handling of the Christmas Mountains tract. How would you have handled it differently? Should land donated under one set of contractual circumstances be subject to change once it becomes state property?

The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
Address P.O. Box 26677
City/Town Austin, Texas 78755
Age 41
Campaign Phone Number (512) 804-6068
Over 22 years; born in Houston; returned to Texas to attend college at Rice University in 1994.
Founder and Managing Member, St. Augustine Partners; Lieutenant in the US Navy Reserve.
Bachelor's Degree, Rice University, 1998; Juris Doctor, The University of Texas Law School, 2003.
Tarrant County Chairman for Uplift Education, a successful North Texas public charter school network; Co-chairman of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s Dallas/Fort Worth Celebration of Reading, which since its inception has raised millions of dollars to combat family illiteracy.
Co-Founder of Hispanic Republicans of Texas; Deputy Finance Chair of the Republican Party of Texas; former National Co-Chairman for MAVPAC; surrogate speaker for two presidential campaigns (Bush-Cheney 2000 and Bush-Cheney 2004); early supporter of Marco Rubio's Senate campaign in 2010; early supporter of Ted Cruz's Senate campaign in 2012; Tarrant County Capital Campaign Co-Chairman for Big Brothers Big Sisters in North Texas; member of several diplomacy missions, including Nicaragua for the second peaceful transfer of power in that country (2002) and Brazil for the Pan-American Games (2007); US Naval Reserve Intelligence Officer deployed to Afghanistan under the Special Operations Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
N/A
Since I began running in 2012, my campaign has raised over $5.4 million.
My campaign has been blessed to receive abundant support from across Texas, to date, there have been over 3,600 financial supporters.
No.
No.
As a public school teacher in an inner city high school, I worked with teachers and administrators to raise standards and test scores. Further, I engaged my students in forming the first speech and debate team in the school’s history. As an entrepreneur, I organized numerous partnerships in energy and commercial real estate projects in Texas. As a Naval officer, I led others in achieving our mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In each instance, I set goals, helped bring the team together and then held everyone--myself included--responsible for the outcomes. I will do the same in public office.
In addition to my family, all of whom I admire, Ronald Reagan. He understood that conservative values are not only the right values, they are the winning values. Whether it was cutting taxes or standing up to the Soviets, he never backed down. And because of that, he changed the course of history.
I am running for Texas Land Commissioner because I believe my background uniquely qualifies me for this office. As a former teacher, I bring real world experiences and insight to the impact GLO funds have on Texas public education. As a businessman who understands how jobs are created, I will advocate for responsible drilling on public land and continue support for pro-growth policies that will benefit the Texas energy sector. And as a Naval officer who has served in Afghanistan, I appreciate veterans and will work to support them every single day I am in office, including, helping them transition to civilian life after their service.

As a strong conservative, I offer the voters solutions to the major challenges facing our state and the GLO. I have a background and experience that directly coincides with the skillset needed by the Texas Land Commissioner, making me the most qualified candidate for this office. I believe that schools must be reformed through more accountability and reform. I believe we need to increase oil and gas production as a pro-growth policy for our State and to strengthen our national security positioning. And I believe it is an important function of the state government to protect those who have given so much to us--our veterans.
Texans have always been innovative and entrepreneurial, which is reflected in the broad energy revolution we are witnessing in our State. According to experts, the production of oil and gas in Texas will continue to increase for decades, yielding further benefit for Texas schools. In order to enhance energy production on the 13 million acres of mineral rights the GLO manages and all across the State, it is important that the private sector continue to develop game-changing technologies, that government processes be streamlined to avoid unnecessary waste, that we eliminate unnecessary burdensome government regulations and innovate upon the production safe and reliable energy over the long-term.

While I support local control, we do not need a patchwork approach to the development of our abundant natural resources here in Texas. I support the continued use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in a responsible way, and those that don’t do it in a responsible way will be held in accordance to the state and federal regulations that apply to them.
It is important that our State leadership examine new methods of water displacement and conservation in Upland areas of Texas in order to mitigate the impact on our bays and estuaries—the diminution of Colorado River fresh water into Matagorda Bay being the most dramatic example. By fashioning a sustainable State-wide plan for water by rallying Texans around the importance of the issue, we will protect Texas’ 3,300 miles of bays and estuaries, and in turn protect Texas wildlife and the Texas coastline.
On my first day as Texas Land Commissioner, I will review all GLO programs in order to streamline processes by removing government waste and inefficiency. In doing so, our housing programs that are designed to assist 1.7 million Texas veterans will better address the medical and psychological needs of the individuals who have served our State and nation.
With 367 miles of coastline in Texas, coastal erosion is a very complicated issue and can only be addressed using multifaceted solutions tailored to each region from Port Arthur to Port Isabel. Each area has unique erosion conditions that demand varying responses, including wetland protection, road development, dune restoration and conceptual development of projects such as the Ike Dike project in Houston. Experts estimate that for every dollar invested in coastal erosion mitigation, four dollars are saved over the long-term from property damage stemming from natural disasters and erosion.
I support the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling in the Severance v. Patterson case.
As Texas Land Commissioner, I will ensure that GLO controlled lands are accessible while protecting the interests of private property owners. Tourists to the Texas coast in 2011 spent over $14 billion—there is an opportunity to build upon this success by marketing coastal tourism of the over 360 public beach access points in our State.
As a part of an all-source market-based energy strategy, I would be in favor of utilizing offshore wind farms as a sustainable source in our growing economy, provided they are economically viable, complement our existing development of oil and gas resources and do not impact fish and wildlife—particularly migratory birds.
After a recent audit conducted by the Attorney General demonstrated evidence of financial mismanagement, the Legislature and the Governor assigned management of the Alamo to the GLO. I applaud Commissioner Patterson for working to include all relevant parties in the decision-making process regarding the ongoing restoration, management and vision for surrounding areas of the Alamo. As Texas Land Commissioner, I will continue this policy and welcome all stakeholders to communicate with me about decisions related to this cherished Texas monument.
I support Commissioner Patterson’s decision to transfer this asset to the Texas State University System that will protect public access to the mountain and conduct vital research.
City/Town El Paso, TX 79901
Age 71
Campaign Phone Number (915) 351-0923
Fax Number N/A
Email Address contact@cookfortexas.org
Youtube Channel
A total of 47 years 7 months. My father was stationed at Fort Bliss in 1949 and 1950. The family returned in 1953 and stayed until 1954 when dad retired from his military career. I was stationed at Ft. Bilss in 1968 and returned permanently in 1971
Executive Director of the U.S - Mexico Border Mayors Association My withdrawals from our IRA portfolios, and social security are my main source of income
Our Lady of Angles Elementary School, Brooklyn Immaculata High School, NYC Saint Francis College, Brooklyn, NY Defense Language Institute 47 week course in Vietnamese El Paso Community College, University of Texas at El Paso BA Business Administration University of Texas at El Paso Teaching Certification
Board Member of El Paso Country Day School Board Member Feeding the Nation's Homeless Foundation Executive Director of the US-Mexico Border Mayors Association
John has received numerous awards for his civic involvement throughout his years of service. Among the most notable, John was one of a handful of people inducted into the Fort Bliss Hall of Fame. He received the Road Hand Award and the Teens in the Driver’s Seat Award from the Texas Department of Transportation for his leadership on transportation issues. In 2009, he received the Bi-National Border Achievement Award from the U.S./Mexico Chamber of Commerce. The El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association has twice designated John as “Legislator of the Year” for his tireless support of the public safety men and women. He was voted Best Elected Official three times. In 2012, John was named 5th best mayor in the world for his high ethical standards by the City Mayor’s Foundation, a London based think tank. John received national recognition for his expertise on issues that impact our relationship with Mexico and assuring a balance between securing the border and promoting international trade. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, appointed John as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Southwest Border Task Force. He is the co-founder of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association.
in 1998 sought a seat in the Texas House of Representatives In 1999 was elected to the El Paso City Council In 2001 was re-elected to the El Paso City Council In 2003 was re-elected to the El Paso City Council In 2005 was elected as Mayor of El Paso In 2009 was re-elected Mayor of El Paso Served as the Mayor until 2013 when term limits barred John is the longest serving elected official in El Paso City government's history
$36,000 plus $20,000 of personal loans from family
James Scherr Jaime Rubinstein John Mimbela
No
Yes. I was forced to file a lawsuit against parties who were illegally circulating recall petitions in corporations which is a violation of the Texas Election Code. A lower court in El Paso ruled that it was obvious the law had been broken, but would not interfere with an election. I filed in the 8th Court of Appeals and the lower court decision was overturned and the judge admonished for overstepping his discretion. The defendants filed an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court. The Court rejected the appeal. Every elected official in Texas takes an oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the laws of Texas to the best of their ability. My legal bills defending the election laws of the State of Texas are now over $600,000. I take my commitments seriously..
As the mayor of El Paso, I provided the leadership, set the vision, mission and goals of he organization to improve our transportation system. When I took office in 2005 our mass transit system was one of the worst, on the verge of a complete meltdown with less than 70% on time performance. Before I left office in 2013, we were recognized as the Best Mass Transit System in the United States. After years of working to secure Federal Transit Authority funding, planning, engineering, and construction, The City today is still launching my vision creating its first ever Rapid Transit System (RTS), moving El Paso and it's people to the 21st Century.
Lyndon Johnson because he was an unlikely champion of the civil rights effort. President Johnson knew that he had to choose a legacy. He understood the importance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He worked hard to garner bi-partisan support for the legislation knowing full well that it would cause five southern states to shift from democratic strongholds to republican states. As a civil rights activist myself, I admire his courage to do the right thing regardless of the consequence.
My skills and proven leadership ability will highly benefit the agency and the people of Texas. The Commissioner is the fiscal trustee for $29 billion in state land assets as well as mineral, oil and gas royalty revenues. These assets are dedicated to funding the Permanent School Fund. After retiring from a quarter century telecommunications career, I returned to the classroom as an elementary school teacher. As a teacher, I am passionate about the education we provide for the children of Texas.

The Texas Land Commissioner is responsible for numerous programs including the Texas Veterans Homes, Texas Veterans Cemeteries, and the Texas Veterans Land Loans. As a Vietnam combat veteran, the son of a WWII hero, brother of a Vietnam combat veteran and the father of an Afghanistan war combat veteran, I am passionate about helping our veterans.

The Land Commissioner authorizes the exploration and exploitation of public lands and beaches and is responsible for protecting them. As the father of 6 Texans, the grandfather of 11 Texans and the great grandfather of 2 Texans, I am passionate about the Texas we them.
Really, it's very simple: 1) experience, 2) environment, 3) education and most importantly, 4) I'm more than just a last name. I have a proven track record in financial management, business and government. I've received local, state and national recognition for my ability and accomplishments. My peers from all political persuasions elected me as the president of the Texas Municipal League, an organization representing 1300 cities and towns all across the state. The General Land Office is a large organization with a wide variety of responsibilities requiring breadth and depth. The City of El Paso has 6,200 employees, including 2,200 police officers and 700 firefighters. As the mayor of El Paso I excelled in my ability to lead a large, bureaucratic organization into a lean, agile and top performing entity focused on demonstrable results and servant leadership. I am confident that Texas voters will choose me for my experience as a businessman, a teacher steadfastly committed to education, my patriotism as a Vietnam veteran, my environmental stewardship and my proven record in government of real, unambiguous, measurable accomplishments.
I understand that Texas is blessed with plentiful natural gas and oil resources. We are also blessed with beautiful yet vulnerable ecosystems New hydraulic fracturing technologies for extraction have opened up vast resources, but also opened us up to potential environmental mistakes. The revenues generated from this increased production has been tremendously beneficial to funding the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent University Fund. With the proper balance between maximizing returns on our assets and protecting the environment the increased production has the potential not only to continue to fund education, but should also help the rainy day fund and provide a new source of revenue for transportation projects.
In the best of worlds we should all be playing by the same rules. When States refuse to set reasonable guidelines and when federal rules do not exist municipalities should have the right to protect the quality of life of their constituents. I have suggested what I believe are reasonable guidelines that the State of Texas could and should implement.At a minimum, to protect Texas air and water, we must insist on“green” completions of wells by requiring excess gasses to be captured; stricter limits on flaring, a sustainable yield permit for water withdrawals and recycling or appropriate disposal of tainted water; and a prohibition of known carcinogenic or toxic chemicals used in this process.
Currently, the General Land Office, TCEQ, and Texas not-for-profit organizations are doing a remarkable job of protecting and enhancing these fragile assets of the State. We need to continue to encourage all stakeholders to work together as environmental stewards. The need for fresh water inflows into our bays and estuaries. is a critical component of their good health. Finally, I would suggest the need to keep a watchful eye on the State Legislature when it comes to moves to amend the Texas Open Beaches Act.
The Texas Veterans Land Board is one of the best examples in the nation of taking care of our veterans. Texas ranks number two behind California in the number of veterans..Returning veterans need to be treated with honor and respect and given opportunities to realize the American Dream of Home Ownership. As Commissioner I fight to assure that Texas Veterans Programs are funded to meet the demands of returning veterans. We also need to provide housing alternatives for a growing population of homeless veterans. In 2008, as the mayor of El Paso, I worked with the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso and the federal government to establish a program to provide housing assistance to homeless vets. To date that program has helped to take more than 150 homeless vets off the streets and into clean, safe housing. I will fight for additional funding for veterans loans.
Weather events, particularly major hurricanes, cause the brunt of erosion problems Man-made disruptions of the natural sediment flow aggravate erosion events. We should always consider removing smaller man-made structures like bulkheads and seawalls. Often, such structures are stopgap solutions to erosion in a small area but make overall erosion in the surrounding areas worse. Also it is important to maintain and protect beach vegetation wherever possible. Vegetation strengthens sand against erosion.

We need to monitor some of the yet unproven methods undergoing testing such as planting oyster shells offshore. The shells will draw aquatic life such as algae, worms and fish, thus creating a "living shoreline" to alleviate erosion. We must look at new technologies as well. While synthetic, sand-filled tubing causes problems similar to bulkheads and seawalls, the small village of Surfside Beach, Texas, secured funding in 2004 for a stair-step type of tubing that creates a dune without causing a scouring effect during storms. We should invest in public relations campaigns encouraging individuals to do their part in protecting the coastline. Slogans like “Leave nothing but footprints behind when you visit the beach." The garbage you leave behind will harm the ocean's ecosystem and beach vegetation, which in turn aggravates erosion. “Stay out of the sand dunes at the beach.” Sand dunes are filled with fragile vegetation that hold them together--and, at times, with snakes, if you need an extra incentive to stay out.
The Texas Open Beaches Act states that "The public... shall have the free and unrestricted right of ingress and egress to and from the state-owned beaches bordering on the seaward shore of the Gulf of Mexico ... extending from the line of mean low tide to the line of vegetation bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. " The Texas Supreme Court has made it clear that once acquired, public easements do not "roll" when the mean high-tide line changes due to an avulsive event such as a hurricane. If it were in my power I would over-ride the split Texas Supreme Court Decision that effectively unraveled the 180 year tradition of open access to Texas Beaches.and restore the intention of the language of the Texas Open Beaches Act.
The State of Texas is the largest landowner in the State. The State, through Texas Parks and Wildlife, provides access to almost a million acres of public lands for hiking, climbing, swimming, fishing, boating, camping, hunting and other recreational purposes. Eco-tourism creates jobs and stimulates the Texas economy. As I've traveled the State, visiting more than half of our 254 counties, I've seen what we have to offer. An aggressive campaign to promote our assets will benefit the State.
I believe an energy strategy that represents diversification and ingenuity and promotes using all of our assets, including fossil fuels, is in the best interests of Texas, the United States, and the planet. Renewable energy technologies which create jobs, stimulate the economy, and protect the environment should be incentivized and must be included in the State's energy policies. . Texas already leads the nation in installed wind generation capacity. Ecologically friendly installations of offshore wind farms could decrease our dependence on less environmentally friendly sources of energy. Currently, with vast resources of natural gas and the ability to install wind farms on land near distribution networks may lessen the economic viability of off shore wind farms at this time.
The Alamo itself is managed by the GLO. The Plaza falls under the City of San Antonio. In the past, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas played a role in operating the buildings. I am a consensus builder and would bring all interested parties to the table to synergisticly come up with a model that benefits the historical importance of the Alamo. When it came to the operation of the facility, I think Commissioner Patterson did a good job, however once politics and hopes of higher office kicked in he lacked the ability to negotiate a compromise.with the City of San Antonio and the Daughters.
The mistake Patterson made was to attempt to sell the tract to private interests, even though a conservation easement provided restriction and protection. In the end, Patterson did the right thing to transfer the property to the University System as an open air classroom. If your question is in regards to the conservation easement on the tract, no it should not be changed and in my opinion can not be changed as it transfers with the deed.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.
The Dallas Morning News did not receive a response from the candidate prior to the deadline.