Tahlequah mayor Jason Nichols recently announced his campaign for the United States House of Representatives from the second congressional district of Oklahoma.
Nichols cites the increasing level of dysfunction 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. It isn't conservative or liberal causes, Democrats or Republicans, or people on the right or the left that suffer. The 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 are the primary focus of discussions and the practical effects of choices are debated. As the mayor of a small town, you have to look your constituents in the eye everyday. That’s taught me to always remember that there are real people affected by every decision you make, to never lose sight of that, and to make certain you stay connected with them and never forget who you 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 as she went from school to school as a cooperative contract counselor because those rural schools were so small they couldn’t afford one by themselves. I learned early in life that every successful society starts 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’re on the verge of surrendering an entire generation of Americans to the consequences of apathy and acrimony; because we seem to be more interested in arguing with one another for the sake of it 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 that she and the rest of the Nichols family are eager to get started. “Years ago, I was skeptical about Jason entering politics. But, when he said this is something he felt he had to do, it didn’t take me long to figure out that that, not only was he right, there was no way he could justify not doing it. 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.”
Jason was recently in Wilburton on the campus of Eastern Oklahoma State College meeting voters from Latimer County. We are often so focused on whether we're sending a Democrat or a Republican to Washington when what we need is an Oklahoman. We need an Oklahoman who worked their way through college; an Oklahoma who saw a need in his hometown and stepped up and ran for mayor to make a difference. We need an Oklahoman that represents our district, our values, our people. Jason is all of those things...
Tonight I heard from Muskogee County residents the same concerns I’ve heard traveling across Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District: We are disappointed; we are frustrated and exhausted by partisan politics. We must get away from “them” and “us” and instead encourage respectful civic participation where differences in philosophy are welcome – so long as we work to find solutions.
We must strive now to keep our country strong and free while respecting human dignity.
The bottom line is that people matter, and that belief should be at the heart and soul of our efforts. I look forward to sharing that idea as I continue to travel this district in the coming weeks and months.
Social media: #nichols4congress #nichols4sense
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