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Gwyn Shea

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Subject: Irving, Texas, Dallas Baptist University, Henry Cuellar, University of North Texas System, Texas State Cemetery, List of University of North Texas alumni, Geoff Connor
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Gwyn Shea

Gwyn Clarkston Shea
103rd Texas Secretary of State
In office
January 7, 2002 – August 4, 2003
Preceded by Henry Cuellar
Succeeded by Geoff Connor
Member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 98 (Dallas County)
In office
Succeeded by Nancy Moffat
Dallas County Constable from Precinct 2
In office
Personal details
Born (1937-08-03) August 3, 1937 (age 76)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) John Joseph Shea
Children Two children
Residence Irving, Dallas County, Texas
Alma mater North Texas State University

Dallas Baptist University

Profession Businesswoman .
Religion Baptist
Shea served ten years among a minority of Republicans in Texas House of Representatives. By the time she was secretary of state, her party was on the verge of a majority in the state House for the first time since Reconstruction.

(2) She served nearly nine years as the Precinct 2 constable in Dallas County and made a strenuous effort to halt the writing of hot check.

(3) After she left the position of secretary of state after less than two years, Shea was employed by Harrah’s Entertainment Company and lobbied for privatization of the state lottery.

Gwyn Clarkston Shea (born August 3, 1937) is a former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from suburban Irving in Dallas County, Texas, who served from 1983-1993. She is also the second of thus far six secretaries of state under Governor Rick Perry, having served from January 7, 2002, to August 4, 2003.

Legislative years

Prior to her election in 1982 to the Texas House District 98 seat, Shea had served for ten years as legislative assistant to Representative Bob Davis. In the House, she was the first woman to have served on the influential Ways and Means Committee. Her work for the House Insurance Committee earned her national recognition and election as president of the National Council of Insurance Legislators. She is also a recipient of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Legislative Leadership Award for outstanding public service.[1] After redistricting in 1991 Shea was defeated by a 58% to 42% margin by Rep. Will Hartnett in the 1992 Republican primary run-off for State House District 114 after their districts were drawn together. Harnett won the general election and remains a state representative to this day.

Other public service

In February 1993, Shea was appointed to serve as Dallas County constable for Precinct 2, including Irving, Coppell, and North Dallas. (All Texas counties have four such precincts regardless of population.) She was elected constable in 1994 (remaining two-years of a four-year term), 1996, and 2000. During her time as constable, Shea’s office collected more than an $1 million annually in hot check restitutions.[1]

In 1995, Governor George W. Bush appointed Shea to the Texas Worker's Compensation Insurance Facility, which was thereafter privatized. In 1997, Bush named her as president of the Texas Healthy Kids Corporation, a public/private partnership to promote better health among the young.[1]

Shea attended the University of North Texas in Denton and is a member of the University of North Texas System Board of Regents, under appointment from Governor Perry in 2007.[2] She also studied at Dallas Baptist University. Shea is a former director of the Irving Chamber of Commerce and a past president of the chamber’s women’s division. She has also served on the advisory boards of the Irving Infant Intervention Center and Irving CARES. She is a member of the First Baptist Church in Irving.[1]

As secretary of state

The office of secretary of state in Texas is an administrative position concerned with keeping state election records and other documents. The office website maintains election returns since 1992 for national, state, and regional elections in Texas, but not local offices. Among well-known Texas politicians who have previously served as secretary of state are John Ben Shepperd, Mark White, John Luke Hill, Bob Bullock, Crawford Martin, Joseph Wilson Baines (grandfather of Lyndon B. Johnson), Ron Kirk, George Strake, Jr., Jack Rains, Alberto Gonzales, and Tony Garza.[3]

On January 7, 2002, Shea succeeded the Democrat Henry Cuellar of Laredo, the seat of Webb County in South Texas, after Cuellar, himself a former state representative and Shea colleague, suddenly resigned after only nine months as secretary of state. Under Texas law, the secretary of state cannot engage in fund raising for another office. Cuellar left the post and thereafter ran unsuccessfully for the 23rd District seat in the United States House of Representatives against the Republican former Representative Henry Bonilla of San Antonio. In 2004, Cuellar won the 28th District seat in Congress and still holds the position.[4]

In making his selection of Shea to succeed Cuellar, Perry described Shea as a "public servant of impeccable character and extraordinary energy. I have known her since we served together in the Texas Legislature, and she has proven herself as an outstanding leader and a committed public servant."[5] For the swearing-in ceremony, Perry invited his future intraparty rival, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who lauded Shea’s accomplishments: "Gwyn Shea has blazed trails throughout her life, and the milestone of becoming secretary of state is simply one more in her long and distinguished career. I am confident that she will be excellent in all of the responsibilities of this position."[6] As secretary of state, Shea launched an initiative to reach graduating high school seniors with a voter registration kit. She unveiled the program in San Antonio in the spring of 2002.[7] She also sponsored in elementary schools the essay contest "What Voting Means to Americans".[8]

Later years

Shea resigned as secretary of state after less than two years in the position to accept employment with Harrah’s Entertainment Company. She lobbied for the privatization of the Texas state lottery.[9] Shea was succeeded by Perry’s third choice for the position, Geoff Connor. Ironically, Connor had been the acting secretary of state for the three months between the Cuellar and Shea tenures, and he continued as deputy secretary of state under Shea. Connor in turn was succeeded as secretary of state by businessman Roger Williams, Phil Wilson, and Hope Andrade of San Antonio.[3]

Shea's public papers have been deposited with the City of Irving.[10] On her death, Shea will be interred beside her husband, John Joseph Shea (June 26, 1932–February 22, 1997), originally from Michigan,[11] at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.[1] She has two children and two grandchildren.[5]


Preceded by
Texas State Representative from District 98 (Dallas County)

Gwyn Clarkston Shea

Succeeded by
Nancy Moffat
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Cuellar
Secretary of State of Texas

Gwyn Clarkston Shea

Succeeded by
Geoff Connor
Preceded by
Constable, Precinct 2, Dallas County, Texas

Gwyn Clarkston Shea

Succeeded by
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