Representative Shelley Sekula Gibbs, a physician and Houston City Councilwoman, won special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of House Majority Leader Tom Delay in 2006. Sekula Gibbs’s seven–week term during the remainder of the 109th Congress (2005–2007), is one of the shortest periods of service of any Congresswoman in House history.
Shelley Sekula was born in Floresville, Texas, on June 22, 1953. She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio in 1975. Four years later, she graduated with an M.D., specializing in dermatology, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She married Sylvan Rodriguez, a popular local television newscaster who died of cancer in 2000. After his death, she married Robert Gibbs. She has three children from her first marriage: Robert, Elysse, and Mallory. For more than 20 years she worked as a physician in Clear Lake, Texas. Sekula Gibbs was a clinical assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and taught at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. She also served as president of the Texas Dermatological Society and as a member of the executive board of the Harris County Medical Society. In 2001, she was elected as an at–large member of the Houston City Council. During her three terms on the council, Sekula Gibbs focused on health care issues—particularly bringing federal money into the city for health care clinics dedicated to assisting the city’s nearly one million uninsured residents. She also was a co–founder of the Ellington Field Task Force, which successfully fought to keep open the city’s major military airbase.
On June 9, 2006, Representative Tom Delay, resigned his seat representing southwestern Houston. Delay had served the district for more than 20 years and was a key architect of the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, later serving as Majority Whip and Majority Leader. Delay had won the March 7, 2006, Republican primary but subsequently announced his resignation. Local Republicans chose Sekula Gibbs as their appointed candidate in what proved to be a challenging write–in campaign. Texas law prevented the substitution of another name on the ballot for Delay. Nevertheless, Gibbs ran for both the special election to the remainder of Delay’s term in the 109th Congress and the full term in the 110th Congress (2007–2009).
The district was conservative leaning, middle–class, and largely white, with African Americans and Hispanics making up about 12 percent each of the residents. The Democratic candidate, Nick Lampson a former four–term House veteran from a district representing Beaumont, Texas, was unopposed in the Democratic primary. He chose not to run in the special election for the final weeks of Delay’s term. On November 8, 2006, Sekula Gibbs won the special election to the 109th Congress, but was unsuccessful in the simultaneous election to the 110th Congress, losing to Lampson 52 to 46 percent (with a third–party candidate garnering 6 percent of the vote).
When Representative Sekula Gibbs was sworn into the House on November 13, 2006, she was assigned to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee. Though the House was in session for only two weeks during Representative Sekula Gibbs’s abbreviated term, she set to work on an ambitious agenda. Shortly after taking her seat, Representative Sekula Gibbs addressed the House, noting that she intended “to roll up my sleeves and work hard” on the issues important to her constituents, including lowering taxes, voting for expanded oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and securing access to affordable health care for senior citizens. Her other legislative interests derived from her work on the Houston City Council, among them, homeland security issues such as border security, illegal immigration, and funding for Texas National Guard air units near Houston. Representative Sekula Gibbs also pushed for enhanced funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to support its planned manned missions to both the moon and Mars.[ Top ]