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Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (born June 22, 1952 in Floresville, Texasmarker) is a physician and a former member of the United States House of Representatives representing from November 13, 2006, until January 3, 2007. She has also served as a City Councilwoman in Houston, Texasmarker for three terms. She won the Special Election to fill the 22nd Congressional seat on November 7, 2006, for the remaining weeks of the 109th United States Congress. On the same day, she also lost in the general election for that seat in the 110th United States Congress. Thereby she was in the interesting position of being a lame duck the moment she was elected. In the 2008 campaign for the Republican nomination in the 22nd Congressional District, she finished first in the primary, but lost a runoff on April 8 to Pete Olson.

Medical career

Sekula-Gibbs graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texasmarker with summa cum laude honors and a degree in chemistry. She later earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Medical Branchmarker in Galveston, Texasmarker, and went on to residencies at the University of Floridamarker in family practice, and Baylor College of Medicinemarker in Houston, specializing in dermatology.

Today, Sekula-Gibbs runs a private dermatology practice in the Clear Lake area of Houston. In addition to this practice, Sekula-Gibbs also teaches at Ben Taub Hospitalmarker and serves as a clinical assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicinemarker, both in the Texas Medical Centermarker.

Houston City Council

Sekula-Gibbs won election to the At Large, Position Three on Houston City Council in 2001 as Shelley Sekula-Rodriguez, from her marriage to the late TV newscaster Sylvan Rodriguez. In 2005 she was re-elected by her present name. Sekula-Gibbs is the first physician to have ever been elected to serve on Houston City Council.

As a member of Houston City Council, Sekula-Gibbs served on the Quality of Life, Budget and Fiscal Affairs, Pension Review, Council Governance, Environment and Public Health, Ethics, and International Liaison and Protocol committees.

Sekula-Gibbs resigned her seat on the Houston city council on November 8, 2006, following her victory in the special election to fill the two month unexpired term of Tom DeLay. A special election was held to fill her Council seat in May 2007; in runoff voting Democrat Melissa Noriega won the position. (City elections in Houston are officially nonpartisan.)

2006 Congressional race

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had represented Sekula-Gibbs's area of residence since it was redistricted into DeLay's district (see 2003 Texas redistricting), decided to retire from Congress instead of face a tough re-election campaign in the following November. After DeLay's announcement, Sekula-Gibbs expressed interest in the position, but waited for DeLay to complete the official withdrawal procedure before filing her papers.

On August 17, 2006, Sekula-Gibbs was selected as the endorsed Republican write-in candidate for District 22. A write-in candidate was necessary because the Republicans were unsuccessful in their efforts to replace DeLay's name on the ballot with another Republican's name. The courts ruled that replacing DeLay's name, especially after winning the state primary, violated Texas election laws. After the court defeat, DeLay chose to remove his name voluntarily from the ballot, essentially leaving the ballot without a Republican standard bearer. The precinct chairpersons voted to endorse one Republican for a write-in campaign. Four Republicans in all — Sekula-Gibbs, Tom Campbell, Tim Turner and David Wallace, the mayor of the Houston suburb of Sugar Landmarker — expressed interest in the Republican endorsement of a write-in campaign. Two of Sekula-Gibbs' fellow Republican candidates, Campbell and Turner, decided to support Sekula-Gibbs in the general election immediately after her endorsement. However, Wallace, who was the first to launch a write-in campaign for the seat, decided initially to continue his campaign without the backing of GOP leaders in the district, which would have made election to Congress difficult for Sekula-Gibbs. In the end, Wallace dropped out of the race days after Sekula-Gibbs received the endorsement. Sekula-Gibbs faced Democratic ex-congressman Nick Lampson and Libertarian Bob Smither.

The district is heavily Republican in both the eastern portion of the district (where Sekula-Gibbs' base is located) and in the western portion (where Wallace comes from). The main counties in the district, Fort Bendmarker, Galvestonmarker and Brazoriamarker voted 61% for Bush and 38.5% for Kerry and the remainder to a third party candidate. The District as a whole, including the sections of Harrismarker that it covers, voted for Bush in 2004 with 64% of the vote. However, write-in candidates have historically failed to win in Texas, which made victory a challenge for Sekula-Gibbs. The Dallas Morning News noted that on the electronic machines used in District 22, voters would have to spell out any write-in candidate's name by using a wheel to move a cursor through the alphabet. The race was one of the most competitive races in the country according to the National Journal. Two nonpartisan political reports, the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, rated the race as Leans Democratic and CQPolitics.com rated the race Leans Democratic. Smither, the Libertarian candidate, has stated that "a vote for liberal Democrat Nick Lampson will be a vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House." Libertarian Ron Paul, 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for president, was a previous holder of the District 22 seat. Sekula-Gibbs' campaign was seen as a warm-up for the 2008 congressional elections, since Lampson won the seat.

In October 2006 the Associated Press reported that "National Republicans were supposed to invest $3 million to $4 million to help Sekula-Gibbs", according to state Republican chairwoman Tina Benkiser. She has received just $134,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee. According to the Washington Times, Libertarian candidate Bob Smither claimed that the Sekula-Gibbs campaign used push polling. On October 30, 2006, Texas Democrats accused Sekula-Gibbs of illegally campaigning within 100 feet of a polling location. In response, Sekula-Gibbs stated that she visited the polling location with the intent to campaign and that she went inside to use the bathroom, not to campaign. In the same article, it was mentioned that her campaign had approximately $163,000 remaining for the election. On November 6, 2006, it was reported that Federal election officials would be monitoring the vote on Election Day in District 22.

On October 30, 2006, a poll was released that was conducted by John Zogby and paid for by Houston Chronicle-KHOU-TVmarker, intended to gauge support for the various candidates in the district race. Sekula-Gibbs received support of 28 percent of respondents, compared to 36 percent support for Lampson, according to the poll of more than 500 likely voters in the 22nd Congressional District.

On November 7, 2006, Sekula-Gibbs lost the general election for the seat to Democrat Nick Lampson, but won the special election to fulfill the remainder of former Representative Tom DeLay's term in the final session of the 109th Congress.

Special election

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on August 29, 2006, that a special election would take place for the unexpired term of Tom DeLay, coinciding with the general election on November 7, 2006. This means that voters chose twice for the same race, but with a different set of candidates (only Libertarian Bob Smither was on both ballots). It set up a scenario in which the constituents of District 22 sent one person to Washington for the last two months of the 109th Congress and a different person to Congress for the two years following. It also means that Sekula-Gibbs was on the ballot for the special election (but not the general election, in which she remained a write-in). Sekula-Gibbs filed for the special election and appeared on the ballot, as did Bob Smither; however, Lampson chose not to file.Sekula-Gibbs was asked if the special election would confuse voters. She replied, "People already know it’s an unusual race." She also stated that having her name on one ballot would serve as "a memory jog."

Sekula-Gibbs won the special election on November 7, 2006.

Congressional term

On November 13, Sekula-Gibbs was sworn in for the vacant seat. She said she would use her brief time in Congress, "For tax cuts. For immigration reform. To make sure we have a good solution for the war in Iraq." Her term expired on January 3, 2007, when Nick Lampson was sworn in to represent the district. She only served for a total of 7 weeks of which only 2 weeks Congress was in session. The Houston Chronicle noted that instead of fulfilling her ambitious promises, she logged an inordinate amount of time in front of C-SPAN cameras.

2008 Congressional race

Sekula-Gibbs ran again for the Congressional seat in 2008. Shewon the first round with 29.72%--well short of the majority needed to win the nomination outright. She advanced to a runoff in April against runner-up Pete Olson, a former aide to Senator Phil Gramm. Sekula-Gibbs criticized Olson as "a Washington insider ... [who] moved here just six months ago to run." Nevertheless, 12 of Texas' 19 Republican congressmen endorsed Olson in the primary.

Olson won the April 8 runoff in a rout, taking 69 percent of the vote to Sekula-Gibbs' 31 percent.

Healthcare

Sekula-Gibbs serves on the Greater Houston Partnership as a member of the Health Care Advisory Committee and as a member of the Houston Galveston Area Council Emergency/Trauma Care Policy Council. She is also a part of the Friends of the Texas Medical Center Librarymarker, where she serves on the Board of Directors.

Sekula-Gibbs supports the transfer of federal tax dollars to Houston via Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

Personal

Sekula-Gibbs has been married three times. The first time to Alan Greenberg, the second time to KHOU-TVmarker newscaster Sylvan Rodriguez, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. Before his death, Rodriguez inspired Sekula-Gibbs to run for public office. In June 2002, she married Robert W. Gibbs, Jr., director of corporate community relations at Reliant Energy.

Sekula-Gibbs is the mother of two adult children.

References

  1. Sekula-Gibbs Congressional Swearing-In Scheduled - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston
  2. Sekula-Gibbs to head to D.C., resign council seat, Houston Chronicle, November 8, 2006
  3. http://www.med.ufl.edu/chfm/annrpt/annrpt0506.pdf
  4. [1]
  5. Mayor to be write-in for DeLay seat
  6. CQ Politics Ratings
  7. Smither4congress.com audio file
  8. Washington Times article.
  9. Click2Houston article.
  10. ABC 13 Article
  11. "Write-in for DeLay spot has a shot" by Kristen Mack, Houston Chronicle, October 30, 2006
  12. Washington Post, November 15, 2006
  13. CQ Politics | Texas GOP Runoff Goes to Ex-Senate Aide in Race for DeLay’s Old Seat
  14. Sekula-Gibbs Campaign website


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