Job description Oversees the General Land Office, a Texas state agency. Term is four years.
Duties Manages state public lands (including mineral rights, properties, and other assets), with the goals of preserving state history, protecting natural resources, and maximizing state revenue.
Manages money resulting from the administration and sale of lands. Most revenue goes to the Texas Permanent School Fund, which funds charter schools, pays for public school textbooks, and guarantees bonds issued by local school districts.
Provides funds to state veterans’ programs, such as the Veterans Land Board.
Advises the Governor on land issues.
Annual salary $140,938
|George P. Bush (incumbent)|
Note: Candidate answers are shown alphabetically by last name.
What is your current occupation? Educational background? What experiences do you have that make you the best candidate for Commissioner of the GLO?
Miguel Suazo: I am a graduate of New Mexico Military Institute, Georgetown University, and the University of New Mexico School of Law. I have worked in the public and private sectors in my career. The majority of my professional experience is in the energy sector, both renewable and conventional. I have worked with state agencies at the state, federal, and local levels. I started my own law practice focusing on energy and business transactions in 2013 and I understand organizational leadership and how to grow a business. I also worked on Capitol Hill and as a representative of a US Senator off of Capitol Hill, so, I understand how the federal government works in Washington, DC and at the local level. This experience gives be a nuanced and balanced understanding of the GLO and the various and important roles that it plays in the lives of Texans.
What percentage of your campaign donations comes from individuals? What percentage comes from PACs?
Miguel Suazo: 100% of my donations have come from individuals.
Why was Houston so vulnerable to Hurricane Harvey? How should the GLO protect communities and industries along Texas’ coast from future hurricanes?
Miguel Suazo: Houston was vulnerable because of how elected officials have allowed the city to develop over many decades. Companies looking to build and profit on lands in prime locations relative to existing Houston locations and structures have inhibited intelligent growth that properly took into account flood plains and the need for drainage. While the GLO deals more with the coastal protection component of storm preparedness, because the GLO is critical in terms of working with federal agencies when disasters strike, the Land Commissioner must speak out on issues that ultimately require its assistance in times of crisis. The Land Commissioner must encourage zoning changes, provide input to FEMA for flood plain re-drawing, urge flood insurance requirements, and educate the public and other elected officials about the importance of acting before storms strike. Most importantly, the GLO must turn the many white papers and studies done by Texas educational institutions, agencies, and others into priority projects that actually see action. We know that we need to protect Galveston Bay and prevent coastal erosion. We just haven’t had a leader with the drive to create the political will for action. A portfolio or projects from a sea wall to coastal erosion prevention will prevent Houston from being as badly devastated in the future provided the city also does its part to build and develop itself differently.
How do you maintain impartiality when the oil and gas company makes large donations to candidates?
Miguel Suazo: First and foremost, a strong moral compass is required. One must be ingrained with the understanding that a political donation does not mean that an elected official is required to act or should act on behalf of the political donor. Next, the nature of the donation in relation to the relationship with the candidate and the GLO must be taken into account. If the donation has the appearance of impropriety, it should be returned. Finally, we need to remove money from politics. The Land Commissioner should urge contribution limits in political campaigns so that rich people do not have an outsized influence over those who cannot contribute monetarily in the same manner. Elected officials must serve the broader public over narrow and monied interests. I will be vocal on this issue during the campaign and once elected.