Melissa Noriega

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Melissa Noriega
Member of the Houston City Council from the At-large #3 District
Assumed office
June 2007
Preceded by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs
Member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 145th District
In office
Preceded by Rick Noriega
Succeeded by Rick Noriega
Personal details
Born October 1, 1954
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political party Democrat (council is nonpartisan)
Spouse(s) Rick Noriega
Residence Houston, Texas
Alma mater University of Houston

Melissa Meisgeier Noriega (born October 1, 1954) is a member of the Houston City Council in Houston, Harris County, Texas, holding At-Large Position 3. Noriega is a former educator and civic leader in Houston and Harris County, Texas, as well as a former member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Early life and education[edit]

Melissa Noriega was born to Charles and Connie Meisgeier in Philadelphia, PA, in 1954. Her father is a lifelong educator; her mother is a writer. Her family moved to Houston, Texas in 1957. Noriega grew up in Austin and Houston and graduated from Scarborough High School in the Houston Independent School District.

Noriega attended the University of Houston and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 1977. While at the University of Houston, she was president of Phi Mu Fraternity, and vice-president of the Pan-Hellenic Council.

In 1983, Noriega received a Master's of Education degree in Counseling from the University of Houston College of Education.

Educational work[edit]

Noriega was employed with the Houston Independent School District from 1981 to 2007 in various capacities. She began as an administrative assistant for Title I Research and served HISD as Manager of Special Projects and District Initiatives, spending the bulk of her career in Parental Involvement and Community Engagement. She concluded her career at HISD as a manager of Professional Development Services.

Marriage and children[edit]

Melissa Meisgeier married Richard J. "Rick" Noriega on February 14, 1991. She is stepmother to Alex Noriega and mother of Richard J. "Ricky" Noriega, Jr.

Community & Civic Involvement[edit]

Noriega is a past president of the Eastwood Civic Association and served on the executive committee of Parents for Public Schools. She is a Life Member of the University of Houston Alumni and a member of Houston's Christ Church Cathedral.

Tenure in the Texas House of Representatives[edit]

Noriega served as a State Representative for Texas House District 145 in 2004 and 2005 while her husband, State Representative Richard J. "Rick" Noriega, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard, served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2005, Melissa Noriega left her job with the Houston Independent School District and was formally sworn-in to serve in the 79th Texas Legislature. On January 11, 2005, she became the first person to serve in the Texas Legislature under provisions of an amendment to the Texas Constitution approved by voters in 2003, allowing the designation of another person to hold the full rights and privileges of office while the legislator is on active duty in the military. In addition to serving in the Regular Session of the 79th Texas Legislature, Melissa Noriega also served during two special sessions of the Texas Legislature on Education in 2005.

While serving in the Texas Legislature, Noriega served on the Defense Affairs and State and Federal Relations Committee, which oversees military operations in Texas as well as Homeland Security. She also served on the Corrections Committee.

She was named Freshman of the Year by the Democratic Caucus and was awarded the first Joe E. Moreno Public Service Award by her colleagues.

Noriega was also instrumental in passing Municipal Wi-Fi legislation during the 79th Legislature.

Candidacy & Election To Houston City Council[edit]

In January, 2007, Noriega launched her campaign for At-Large Position 3 on the Houston City Council, a post which is elected "at large," by a vote of the entire city of Houston. This is the same post vacated by Shelley Sekula Gibbs, who won a Special Election to replace former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in November 2006. Sekula Gibbs was required by Texas law to vacate the seat to serve the remainder of DeLay's term even though she lost to Nick Lampson in the general election.

Prior to 1993, vacancies on the Houston City Council were filled by mayoral appointment until the Texas Legislature changed the state law where special elections are mandated. Mayor Bill White vowed not to hold a special election since the $5 million (the estimated cost of taxpayer money for a special election) should be allocated to city services. Noriega's campaign was the third special election since 1997 where Chris Bell served the remainder of former councilmember John Peavy, who resigned in the wake of an ethics investigation.

Running on a platform of safer neighborhoods, a healthier environment, and more effective government for Houston, Noriega polled more votes any of 11 other candidates in the May 12, 2007 general election and advanced to a run-off against Roy Morales, a retired military officer. On June 17, 2007, Noriega defeated Morales, garnering more than 55 percent of the vote.

Noriega defeated Morales again in the general election in November 2007, and earned her first two-year term on Houston City Council.

Melissa Noriega serves as the chair the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. This committee considers public safety and law enforcement, including Police, Fire and EMS; Homeland Security and emergency preparedness; and the Houston Emergency Center. 67% of the City's budget goes to public safety.

In addition, Noriega serves on the following committees: Budget and Fiscal Affairs; Flooding and Drainage Issues; Human Services and Technology Access; Regulation, Development and Neighborhood Protection; Transportation, Infrastructure and Aviation; and the Water Resource Management subcommittee.

Council Member Melissa Noriega serves on The Mayor's Complete Count Committee, a grassroots, community-based awareness program focused on the importance of being counted in the 2010 census.

In 2009, Noriega is running unopposed for re-election to Houston City Council.

Awards and honors[edit]

Noriega has won numerous awards and honors including:

  • American Jewish Committee, Houston Chapter, Community Service Award, 2006
  • East End Chamber of Commerce, Service Award, 2005
  • Variety Club of Houston, Community Service Award
  • Greater Houston Partnership, Recognition Award, 2005
  • Freshman of the Year, First Recipient of the Joe E. Moreno Service Award, Democratic Caucus, Texas House of Representatives, 79th Legislative Session, 2005


Preceded by
Richard J. "Rick" Noriega
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 145 (Houston)

Succeeded by
Richard J. "Rick" Noriega