Two years before a McLennan County commissioner’s term ends, his family and a few friends are throwing a banquet in his honor.
The party may be early, but his time in office won’t end prematurely, Precinct 2 Commissioner Lester Gibson said.
Coque Gibson, wife of the long-serving commissioner, said she wanted to host an event to highlight all the work her husband has done for county through the years.
“I was just inspired by God. Something inspired me. I wanted to do this so I could show him, as well as the community, and maybe let the community know all the work my husband has done all these years,” she said when asked about holding the event mid-term. “He’s always been an advocate for people.”
Lester Gibson said he will retire from his county commissioner seat at the end of his term.
Almost 300 people bought tickets to attend “A Night With the Commish” on Saturday at the Waco Convention Center, which is sold out.
Gibson, a Democrat first elected to the Precinct 2 seat in 1990, was most-recently re-elected in 2014, beating Republican Tony Abad. A 1974 Baylor University graduate and father of four children and 12 grandchildren, Gibson also served as a Waco City Council member from 1988 to 1990.
Coque Gibson said the event includes a guest speaker and tribute to her husband of almost 47 years.
She said her husband has been a civil rights advocate for the area.
“Anything that people had injustices with, Lester just hopped on it,” she said. “He ended up being a voice for the African-American community.”
Izegbe Lee, Gibson’s daughter, said her mother was inspired to host the event.
“She had a vision she wanted to recognize my father and show appreciation for his many accomplishments he’s made within McLennan County through all his years of service,” she said.
Lee said the event sold out of seats. They booked space for 280 people, she said. Lee said her mother envisioned a much larger event, but they agreed to narrow the list.
“My daddy is so known throughout McLennan County and other areas of Texas, if we were to put on an event of that magnitude it would have an overflow of people,” she said. “I’m overwhelmingly proud of my father. It gives me chills even to think of all my father has done for the community. I’m very, very proud of him.”
Participants could purchase a table for $150 or sponsor the event at $500 for the bronze level, $1,000 for the silver level, or $1,500 for the gold level.
Coque Gibson said the appreciation service was put together by The Historic Political Legacy of McLennan County Committee, which was just a name she created for organizers.
Proceeds will go toward the program, food and decorations, she said. Any remaining funds will go to a charitable organization of her husband’s choosing, she said.
Hard secret to keep
Lester Gibson said he didn’t know much about the event, except that his wife is hosting it. Originally the celebration was to be a secret, he said.
“I knew I couldn’t keep a secret,” Coque Gibson said with a laugh.
County Judge Scott Felton said he will be in West Texas this weekend for a family reunion.
“I’m not totally sure what the purpose of the event is besides recognizing him for 20-plus years of service,” Felton said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Snell said he didn’t know anything about a party being thrown for Gibson.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Jones and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ben Perry did not return calls for comment.
Mike Dixon, a Waco attorney who represents McLennan County, said he doesn’t see an issue with money going to an account set up by Gibson’s family for the event.
He said it’s his understanding that unless the money goes directly to him, as opposed to funding a venue for an event, then there’s no issue.
Dixon said he assumes the organizers set up a separate bank account for the event instead of using their personal one.
“If someone were to pay to a function in honor of some other figure or person, you’re paying essentially for your meal and your ability to attend, that helps them to be able to put it on,” he said.