The Texas Press Association named District 3 Sen. Robert Nichols a 2017-18 Champion of Transparency. Shown at the presentation are TPA officials and newspaper publishers (from left) Jennifer Ricks, Lufkin Daily News; Jake Mienk, Jacksonville Progress and Palestine Herald-Press; Lange Svehlak, Athens Daily Review; Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of TPA; Sen. Nichols; Rick Craig, Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel; and TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges. (Henderson News photo by Dan Moore)
The Texas Press Association named state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, a 2017-18 “Champion of Transparency” in ceremonies at Nichols’ office attended by TPA officials and publishers of newspapers in Nichols’ district.
Nichols is credited with standing up for Texas laws regarding open meetings and public records and the right of citizens and journalists to have access to meetings and records.
“I am grateful to TPA for this honor,” Nichols said. “I believe local newspapers are an essential form of communication all over Texas, but especially in East Texas. I will continue to stand behind and support the needs of newspapers within Senate District 3.”
Nichols also received the award in 2015.
“Nobody has been more effective than Robert Nichols,” said Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of the Texas Press Association. “When (newspapers) need help, he’s the go-to man.”
Baggett called Nichols a staunch defender of the public’s right to know about the activities and intentions of our government.
“His votes in the Texas Senate, and his advocacy for citizens dealing with state agencies, are impactful,” Baggett said. “Texas is well-served to have such an effective voice for transparency and accountability in the Legislature.”
TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges also said Nichols has consistently supported newspapers, open records, and the public’s right to know.
First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Nichols represents District 3, which covers 19 East Texas counties.
Nichols currently heads the Texas Senate’s Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Administration, Business & Commerce and Finance committees.
He is a member of the Legislative Audit Committee and is serving his third term on the Sunset Advisory Commission.
He also serves on the board of the East Texas Medical Center.
Before running for the Texas Senate, Nichols served eight years on the Texas Transportation Commission, first appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush and later re-appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry.
A plastics manufacturing engineer, Nichols graduated from Lamar University in 1968 with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering. During his business career, he built four manufacturing plants, earned 32 U.S. and 128 foreign patents and created more than 900 jobs for East Texans.
He and his wife, Donna, have three children.