Judge Chris Porter: Servant to the Community


For the last five years, Judge Chris Porter has served as the Gray County Judge, starting his tenure on the precipice of Covid-19, a challenge that would undoubtedly test his skills, diplomacy and faith.

A lifelong resident of Pampa, Judge Porter began his working career in the oil and gas industry, employed with Phillips for 15 years before he went to work for his family-owned oil business for 13 years.

During that time, he served as city commissioner under then-Mayor, Brad Pingle, and after coming to the conclusion that he wanted to do more for his community, decided to run for Gray County Judge.

“There was a lot of thought to that. It was a bit of a pain-staking process to decide to become Judge,” Porter said.

“I’ve always been a problem solver and a servant to the community. I wanted to make things better and the County Judge’s job was not something I had really looked at, but I felt like there needed to be a change and so I was fortunate enough to be elected.”

Understanding that a healthy community thrives on the basis of solidarity, strong bonds and leadership, Judge Porter’s main priority upon entering office was to repair the disconnect between the city and county that was prevalant at the time and has since successfully been restored.  

“The platform that I ran on was to increase the cooperation between the city of Pampa and the county and we’ve got a phenomenal relationship now. The city of Pampa and Gray County are locked arm-in-arm and step-for-step,” Judge Porter said.

Upon building better relationships, Judge Porter was given a task that neither he, the county, the city nor the world was ready for. 

“The pandemic was horrible for our citizenry and I wasn’t prepared for it. One year after I was made the County Judge, I signed an emergency declaration for Covid. The pandemic taught me a lot of things. Every morning my job was to get the numbers for new positive cases and deaths. So I had to go through and make sure the numbers were correct and get them to our dispatch so they were aware of any calls to those residences for our first responders to go to that was a Covid-positive house. We had quarantine issues that I never thought I would have to deal with in my life and figure out how to navigate that. But I was surrounded by the greatest people.”

With the unwavering support and cooperation from both the city and county levels, the pandemic, while now in the rearview mirror, serves as a stark reminder that if everyone in the community and its leaders were able to pull together and make it through, then there’s no doubt they can get through anything.

During the recent wildfires that scorched over one million acres across the Texas Panhandle, Judge Porter, faced with critical decisions that would affect the entire county, turned to his experience with the Covid tragedy.

Recalling the heart-wrenching story of one of the first deaths of Covid in Pampa, Judge Porter looked back at the determination, selflessness and sacrifice one woman made that forever made a difference in Judge Porter’s life when faced with a challenge.

“Her voice will echo in my head for all of time. The pandemic was very difficult. I made some good and bad decisions during that. But I’ll look at all those files and I’m like man, if we can get through that, we can get through anything. She will always be in my mind.”

When Judge Porter is not declaring and battling emergency disasters, he spends his time in the courtroom, both as a County Judge in misdemeanor court and as presiding chair over the county commissioner’s court. 

Upon entering the Judge’s seat, there were more than 800 open criminal cases in Gray County and within the five years that Judge Porter has taken the honorary seat, those cases have dropped down to nearly 200.

As the chair over the County Commissioner’s Court, one of the first decisions made by the commissioners under the guidance of Judge Porter was the closure of the staggering 14 game rooms that plagued the city of Pampa leaving now only two; driving the crime rate of our beloved town down to a ten-year low.  

Decisions regarding the economic growth of Pampa also lies on Judge Porter and the commissioners, sometimes making decisions that not everyone agrees with.

“We have to broaden our economic drivers to be able to sustain our population and what we’ve got. It is important to me to try and facilitate and help and encourage new industries into Gray County. There’s still more to go because I want to make sure that Gray County is going to make it another 100 years.”

With a job that makes you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, it’s extremely crucial to have a strong support system at your back, and Judge Porter has just that, his wife Angela being his main driving and inspirational force.

“I love my wife to death and she is very forgiving. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. There are things that have been unpleasant for her that she has weathered like a champ. I couldn’t imagine doing this without her. It’s very much a partnership. She’s my conscience at times when I come home and tell her about the day. I can’t say enough about her and what she’s done for me.”

The support of personal and professional friends and colleagues mixed with the unconditional love for his community gives Judge Porter the incentive to continue his journey with no sense of retirement in the near future.    

“This isn’t a retirement gig for me. When I stop losing my pace or my stamina to be the Judge, then I will step down. I would prefer to go out on top than to go out on my way down.”