Nichols cites an increasing level of dysfunction in government as his primary motivation for entering the race.
“The political culture in Washington has devolved to the point where even the smallest issues seem to be catalysts for controversy or an excuse to argue with someone because they happen to belong to a different political party,” Nichols said. “It isn’t conservative or liberal causes, Democrats or Republicans, or people on the right or the left that suffer. The entire country does. Regardless of your position on any particular issue, the current environment doesn’t allow much of anything to be accomplished for anyone. I’d like to have a hand in changing that and in getting Congress focused on the things that impact the lives of Americans.”
A lifelong resident of Tahlequah, Nichols has served as that community’s mayor for over six years, and has led efforts to modernize and reform local government in his hometown. Nichols was twice elected as city councilor in Tahlequah before serving as mayor. His time in local government reinforced his belief in the need for consensus and helped hone his skills in reaching it.
“I’m accustomed to operating in a non-partisan environment where ideas and practical considerations are the focus of discussions,” he said. “As the mayor of a small town, you have to look your constituents in the eye every day. That’s kept me grounded and reminded me that there are real people affected by every decision I make, to never lose sight of that, and to make certain I stay connected with them and never forget who I work for. That isn’t a political party.”
Nichols also has experience working within tribal government and public education. Though a Cherokee Nation citizen, he worked for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians for several years as the tribe’s Information Technology Director and held a technology-related position with Tahlequah Public Schools as well. He is currently a political science instructor at Northeastern State University, which is also his alma mater, having earned both his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in political science, and his American studies master’s degree from that institution.
“My parents were educators. When I was so young that I can barely remember it, my mother would take me with her travelling from school to school as a counselor because the rural schools couldn’t afford one by themselves,” Nichols said. “That experience taught me that successful lives and societies start at the schoolhouse door. Later in life, I learned that a lot of things get tracked in that door because of the challenges faced by the struggling families many students come from. We’ve nearly surrendered an entire generation of Americans to the consequences of apathy and acrimony, because we seem to be more interested in arguing rather than solving problems. That isn’t what I do or how I operate, and, it won’t be when I get to Washington.”
Nichols’ wife, Jennifer, said she and the rest of the Nichols family are eager to get started.
“When Jason said this is something he felt he had to do, it didn’t take me long to figure out that, not only was he right, there was no way he could justify not doing it,” she said. “The kids and I are so proud of him and what he’s been able to accomplish; how he always fights for what he believes in, despite personal attacks; and how he has no fear when taking a principled stand. We need people like him in Congress.”
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