P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2004
AUSTIN -- Thousands of visitors converged on the Texas State Capitol today to watch Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, take the oath of office as Governor For A Day, a tradition dating back more than 40 years to honor the President Pro Tem of the Texas Senate.
The inaugural ceremonies, which included entertainment from local high schools and a Texas barbecue, took place nearly 27 years after the first and only other Republican female to serve as Governor For A Day -- the late Senator Betty Andujar of Fort Worth -- celebrated her inauguration on May 7, 1977.
"This tradition of Governor for a Day is not just an honor for the individual senator, but for the people of her, or his, district," Governor Nelson said in her inaugural address, which stressed the themes of education, health and public safety. "This chamber where we are gathered is the place where 31 individuals representing 31 diverse districts come together to find solutions to the challenges facing our state. It is an honor to have Senators representing every region of our state here today."
The Oath of Office was delivered by Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht. Senator John Whitmire, Dean of the Texas Senate, served as master of ceremonies with personal comments delivered by Congressman Michael Burgess, Senator Florence Shapiro and community business leader Bernie Francis.
Governor Nelson's first official act was to name a replacement Senator for the day, an honor she bestowed upon her husband of 28 years, J. Michael Nelson. She granted one pardon -- to her brother Walter Gray for years of teasing during childhood. She also thanked her five children and her 88-year-old father, Robert Gray.
A former teacher, Governor Nelson invited every school district in Senate District 12, which includes communities in Tarrant and Denton counties, to participate. The Capitol showcased visual art from elementary school students, poetry from middle school students, and entertainment from local high schools, as well as scholarships for future teachers.