Christi Craddick: A family-oriented leader
Christi Craddick was elected Texas Railroad Commissioner in 2012 and has held her seat for two terms. She works in Austin to assure the oil, gas, and railroad industries of Texas are operating at their top performance. Experiences in oil and gas law, in combination with a parent as a politician, has contributed to her knowledge of being an elected official. Born and raised in Midland, Texas, Christi grew up in the heat and surrounded by conservative republicans. Because of father, Tom Craddick, has been a Texas Congressman since before her parents were married, Christi was exposed to the life of a politician and the duties that comes with it. That never stopped her father from putting his family first, she says, and it was his example of family first that has inspired her to work hard but always come home to her family. Despite the time that requires her to work away from home, Christi places emphasis on time spent with her family.
Christi is able to give back to her community specifically through the opportunities she has Railroad Commissioner. Because most her work affects individuals in rural areas of the state, Christi often travels to meet with people whose opinions and voices need to be heard so she can better serve them. The heart of the oil and gas industry is not found in Travis County, so Christi’s travels all over the state gathers the most feedback that can produce the best results for individuals in the industry. She focused on the needs of these communities, and always asked if the agency was doing its job well. It is this community outreach that initially got her into politics. “It was part of how we were raised,” she says, “being involved in the community is very important.”
Railroad Commissioner, or elected office of any kind, was never something she expected to do. Although she had participated in multiple campaigns, worked as campaign managers, and understood the election process, Christi says she didn’t imagine herself being on the front end of politics - her niche was found in the “back of house” on the campaign side of politics. It was in 2011 when the Railroad Commission was up for Sunset (an auditing process done by the legislature that reviews the work done by the agency) and Christi saw the importance of educating Texans and decided to run for office. “There were 6 people in my primary… and I was gonna work as hard as I knew how to work.” With two months to prepare, Christi raised enough money, shook enough hands, and worked hard enough to win her seat. This experience shaped her life into pursuing a career in politics.
When asked what challenges she has faced in her career because of her gender, Christi explains that “it’s important for women to have mentors”. The people who taught her how to do her job well, and the man who showed her how to put family first, have supported and helped Honorable Craddick the most in her career. Women are in the minority in the oil and gas industry, and as that progresses and more women become involved, Christi says that women seek each other out; the support and backing that is found from women in leadership has helped her more than anything.
Advice that Honorable Craddick would give to young women pursuing a careers in politics would be to find something you are passionate about and get involved in that in your community. Those passions may change, she says, but continue to work in the community and that is where you will grow.