Texas land commissioner candidates debate energy and veteran’s assistance

Candidates for the 2010 election for Texas Land Commissioner revealed their plans to help veterans and to increase renewable energy sources during a debate at St. Edward’s University.

“We need to take care of our wounded warriors,” Hector Uribe, the Democratic candidate for land commissioner, said.

The Texas Land Commissioner, which is the oldest Texas state agency, is responsible for veteran benefits and protecting historic documents in the Land Office Archives.

The Texas Land Commissioner, as well as the General Land Office, is also responsible for managing 13 million acres of Texas land for the benefit of the Permanent School Fund, which goes to Texas public schools.

During the Oct. 13 debate, Uribe congratulated Jerry Patterson, the incumbent Republican candidate for land commissioner, for his work establishing nursing homes for veterans. However, Uribe said that he wants to expand the authority of the Texas Land Commissioner to include giving out bonds to build veteran hospitals.

Under Patterson, Texas has seen a large expansion of veteran benefits through the Veterans Land Board, a program that provides long term care for Texas veterans as well as money and loans to buy land.

The land commissioner expressed how the Board’s biggest challenge is communicating to Texas’s 1.7 million veterans about the benefits and how the challenge is being met by marketing to real estate agencies in order to communicate better.

Both candidates also share the goal of making Texas a nationwide leader in clean and renewable energy.

While land commissioner, Patterson has moved Texas towards using more renewable energy sources. Currently, Texas is leasing 250,000 acres of land for renewable energy.

When asked how nuclear energy fit into the energy plans of Texas, Patterson said that nuclear energy is a substantial part of Texas’s energy load. Uribe responded by saying that Texas needs a fuller menu of energy resources.

Uribe has served in the Texas House of Representatives for three years and on the Texas Senate for 10 years, and he has proposed legislation for oil spill cleanups. Uribe said that no one is prepared to deal with oil spill catastrophes, such as the Deepwater Horizon spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico in April.

The debate between Patterson and Uribe, sponsored by St. Edwards’s School of Humanities, was the first and only 2010 Texas election debate to occur so far.

The candidates chose to debate in order for voters to learn about their issues on the ballot and for voters to have a chance to ask questions and receive face-to-face answers.

“It’s all about talking about what you believe in,” Patterson said.

Patterson said that he and Uribe have things in common. Both want to improve Texas, but they differ on how to achieve that goal. Patterson said that regardless of who wins, the office would be in good hands.