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Gohmert opponent touts military, health background

By by Robin Y. Richardson
Oct. 25, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Shirley McKellar, Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat running against Republican incumbent Louie Gohmert, said she's seeking office to bring about change for all Americans.

McKellar, who is retired from the U.S. Army and has a doctorate in nursing, said when she went into the military, she went in to serve all people - not a certain sector.

"... I'm going to serve every single person whether they are (with) the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, Libertarian, Green Party or no party," she said.

The Tyler native said what makes her the best candidate is the fact she has work experience in areas that are of concern to the country.

"I'm medical; I know all about health care," she said. "That's one of the biggest issues that we're dealing with right now in America is health care and providing health care for Americans."

In addition to her military experience, McKellar said she started an early childhood center in Tyler.

"I am an entrepreneur, and I have employed hundreds of people in East Texas," she said.

As a veteran and recipient of the highest non-combat award in the military, she said she understands foreign policy, which she believes is important for a congressional representative.

"That's what Congress people need to know – all of these things that I have already prepared (for)," she said.

To help her be academically prepared for the job, she has pursued a political science degree from the University of Texas, and will be graduating in December.

The candidate said she became interested in running for a political office after retiring from the U.S. Army in 2009 due to an injury she sustained while in Iraq. After spending months in the hospital undergoing surgeries and recovering, she had difficulty getting into the veterans assistance program for continued care. That's when she sought help from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office.

"Within two weeks I was in the system with her help, however, I found out there were some of my other colleagues who were experiencing the same thing, so I started to help them to get into the VA system and to get their benefits," she said.

"So, that's when I geared myself toward the congressional seat," she said. She decided to run as a Democrat.

Some of the things she plans to focus on are education and health care.

McKellar is married to Danny C. McKellar, a retired educator. They have two adult children and five grandchildren.



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