U.S. representative, Arizona
On November 4, 2008, Gabrielle Giffords was re-elected by the people of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District - a diverse area that covers 9,000 square miles including a 114 mile border with Mexico. For almost ten years, Giffords has dedicated herself to public service as an elected official. A third generation Tucsonan, she represented her hometown in the Arizona Legislature from 2000-2005 where she was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate. Upon entering Congress, Giffords quickly became a leading champion of solar energy, immigration reform, and the needs of military families and veterans. Consistently ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress, she is a strong supporter of fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship and government accountability. Involving southern Arizonans in shaping policies and strategically solving community problems is the cornerstone of her work. Giffords’ inclusive and collaborative approach allows her to bring all viewpoints to the table and the best ideas to Washington. Before entering public office, Giffords took over her family’s tire and automotive business. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of El Campo Tire, Inc, she faced the struggles that many small business owners in Arizona and America face. In Washington, Giffords works hard to be a voice for small businesses and is a tireless advocate for spending restraint and honest budgeting. Representing thousands of military families and veterans in southern Arizona, Giffords proudly serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Military Readiness. She works closely with Army and Air Force officials at Southern Arizona’s outstanding installations: Fort Huachuca, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and the 162nd Air National Guard. Bringing their interests and concerns to Washington is one of her top priorities. On the House Science and Technology Committee, Congresswoman Giffords promotes an agenda of energy independence and solar initiatives in an effort to make Southern Arizona the “Solar-con Valley" of the nation. She is also Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. In her district, Giffords launched a Community Solar Energy Initiative to mobilize support and action for the increased use of solar energy. It includes an advisory council of university researchers, business leaders, elected officials and interested citizens to make recommendations on how solar energy could be advanced in Arizona. This effort also led to the introduction and passage of legislation to encourage research and development and the training of a solar energy installation workforce. Giffords also fought for an eight-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit for commercial and residential solar projects. In January of 2009, Congresswoman Giffords was selected to serve as Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. In this new role, she is leading the conversation around future space exploration, including the University of Arizona’s Phoenix Mars Mission; expanding aviation research; and working to inspire the next generation of math and science pioneers. Combining her work on the Armed Services and Science Committees, Giffords is taking the lead in Congress to promote increased use of renewable energy at military installations throughout the country. On the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Giffords is focused on conditions in Mexico and Central America concerning national security, economic development and immigration. In particular, she helped reform a State Department initiative aimed at reducing drug trafficking and cartel violence along the U.S. - Mexico border. Her legislative effort ensured coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. Giffords also serves as Vice Chair of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group. Giffords holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. from Scripps College where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Chihuahua, Mexico. She is married to Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy Pilot and NASA astronaut, and is the only U.S. Representative with an active duty military spouse.