Tibbs was elected to six terms from House District 23 in east Tulsa. She defeated the late Betty Boyd, a well-known television personality and Democrat, to win her first term in 2000. Republicans gained control of the House after the 2004 elections.
“You never had to wonder where Sue stood on an issue, and I respected that,” Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said. “Sue represented the people of District 23 well, and she will be greatly missed.”
Former House Speaker Chris Benge, a Republican from Tulsa who led the House from 2008 through 2010, said Tibbs was “a consummate stateswoman, colleague and friend.”
Tibbs' seat will remain vacant until November, based on legislation passed and signed into law last month. The legislation states that any legislative seat that becomes vacant March 1 or later in an election year won't be filled until the November general election.
Filing for legislative seats takes place Wednesday through Friday at the state Capitol. Legislative terms begin in mid-November; legislators are in session from early February through late May.
Tibbs is the second House member and third state legislator since July to die while in office. Rusty Farley, a Republican House member from Haworth, died July 4. David Myers, a Republican senator from Ponca City, died Nov. 11. Oklahoma has 149 legislators — 101 in the House and 48 in the Senate.
Mike Neal, president and chief executive officer of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, said Tibbs “exemplified the very best of a public servant.”