INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 21 — With nearly 40 delegates in attendance, on Monday, April 17, 2023, Benjamin L. Wright of Division 189 (Saginaw, Texas) was elected as the new Chairman of the BLET’s Texas State Legislative Board (TX SLB) during the Board’s 16th quadrennial meeting in Austin, Texas. In addition, Brother Scott Piekarski of Division 620 (Fort Worth) was reelected by acclamation to his fourth term as Secretary-Treasurer.
The following officers were also elected: 1st Vice Chairman Bryce Dondero, Division 573 (Greenville); 2nd Vice Chairman Chris Morales, Division 741 (San Antonio); Alternate 2nd Vice Chairman Joseph Walker, Division 775 (Victoria); and Alternate Secretary-Treasurer Tye Airhart, Division 944 (Dallas).
Newly elected Chairman Wright hired out as a trainman with the BNSF Railway in 2002 and joined the BLET in 2005 following his promotion to locomotive engineer. In 2008, Brother Wright was elected Legislative Representative of Division 189. He was elected 1st Vice Local Chairman three years later and has held both positions ever since. Brother Wright became involved with the TX SLB in 2011 when he was elected Alternate 2nd Vice Chairman and was elected 1st Vice Chairman in 2015 and reelected in 2019.
Earlier this year, outgoing Chairman Gary R. Pedigo, a member of BLET Division 177 (Denison), announced his pending retirement and did not seek reelection after a railroad career spanning nearly five decades. Brother Gary’s railroad career began in 1977 when he was hired by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, known to many as the Katy Railroad. Less than two years later, Gary joined the BLE in 1979.
In April 2015, Brother Gary was elected as Chairman of the Texas State Legislative Board, succeeding former Chairman Terry Briggs. Four years later, in April 2019, Gary was reelected as Chairman. Before that, he served the Board as 2nd Vice Chairman from 2011-2015. Brother Pedigo served Division 177 as Local Chairman and Legislative Representative throughout his career. In October 2022, Brother Pedigo served the Brotherhood as National Division Chaplain during the Fifth National Convention.
“I want to thank Gary Pedigo for his many years of service to the Brotherhood and wish him a long and much-deserved retirement. In addition, I congratulate Ben Wright on his new position and all Texas State Legislative Board officers,” President Hall said. “It was a great experience to meet and talk with all the folks in Texas. I want them to know they have my full support and should feel free to contact the National Division should they need assistance. We are here to help.”
Terms of office for all newly elected officers begin on June 1, per the Texas SLB Bylaws.
Established in 1889, the Texas State Legislative Board represents 41 divisions and over 5,000 active and retired BLET members.