Lester Gibson

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Lester Gibson attended Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting, his first since September.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

Precinct 2 Commissioner Lester Gibson returned Tuesday to the McLennan County Commissioners Court after 22 consecutive absences, attributing the missed meetings to health issues and calling them “not relevant.”

“I’ve been sick, OK,” he said after the regular weekly meeting. “I don’t see how that’s relevant. I’ve been under the weather.”

Gibson, who represents the eastern part of the county and is the court’s sole Democrat, said of the absences: “That’s my business.”

Gibson turned to his administrative assistant Patricia “Pat” Chisolm-Miller and asked if there is a law requiring him to attend meetings.

“No, sir,” she said.

Gibson had not attended a meeting since Sept. 19. He has attended 24 of the 64 meetings since Jan. 1, 2017.

Gibson’s term ends Dec. 31, and he is not seeking re-election. Chisolm-Miller is the Democratic nominee for her boss’ seat, and she faces Republican nominee Donis “D.L.” Wilson in the November election. The winner will take office Jan. 1 and serve as Precinct 2’s first new face after Gibson’s almost three decades in office.

Before the meeting, County Judge Scott Felton caught word that Gibson would attend and directed that Chisolm-Miller’s seat be returned to its former location behind her boss.

Last week, Felton had Chisolm-Miller’s usual seat removed, saying it was blocking easy access to the U-shaped desk where commissioners sit. At the time, Felton said if Gibson did not attend there was no reason for Chisolm-Miller — the longest-serving of the commissioners’ administrative assistants — to sit there. Felton’s own administrative specialist is the only one who sits at the table with commissioners.

The other three administrative assistants sit on the first few rows of the audience.

Gibson’s wife, Coque, escorted him into the room Tuesday.

Residents and city leaders of Mart have previously said during public meetings that Gibson’s absences have impeded work in their small town.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Snell was not in attendance.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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