Mark Nichols, Alva City Council, Ward 2
March 26, 2021
(Editor's Note: The other Ward 2 candidate was featured Sunday. Nichols was on vacation and did not see our questionnaire until later.)
I have lived in Alva, Oklahoma, for almost three years; moving from the nearby city of Enid where I was born and raised. I graduated high school in 2002 from Enid High School and went on to vocational training in business and computers at Autry Technology Center. I went to college for computer science with a focus in web design, and I currently maintain several websites/marketing for business owners all over America. I have had my hands in technology from an early age.
I married my high school sweetheart, Jennifer Nichols, in 2007. Most of you know her if you've ever been to the Urgent Care in the past five years, which is what brought us to Alva originally, but then we fell in love with Alva's charm and decided this was the perfect place to call home. We have two kids together, Zachary Nichols (10 years old, in fourth grade and a proud Goldbug at Lincoln Elementary) and Benjamin Nichols (5 years old, pre-K and a proud Goldbug at Washington Elementary). I am also employed at Share Medical Center as the IT director and my team maintains all of the technology needs for the Homestead, Share Medical Hospital, all of the physician clinics, and the nursing home.
I have worked previously in the City of Enid – Code Department and the Fire Department/IT Department. Working in government departments has given me experience and knowledge on how government processes and procedures work, including court procedures being employed in the code department and having to enforce local code issues.
My experience in IT, marketing and graphic design is a help to any government or business as these marketing methods are used everywhere. I also have extensive knowledge on commercial sound and lighting used at large venue concerts as I previously owned a company that sold and installed commercial sound and lighting – and I currently own a DJ company, providing entertainment at weddings and other corporate events (when Covid-19 allows).
What is good about living in Alva? I think I could go on and on with this answer. Having lived in several other places – Enid, Oklahoma City and Miami, Florida – I feel like Alva is the best place to live and raise my family. My son can walk or bike around town with his friends without big city living concerns. People here are nice; we have excellent restaurants and everything a person needs in shopping. For the time you need to get to a bigger city, Alva is close to Woodward, Enid, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The location of Alva has numerous family fun activities within a short drive – digging for crystals, caves, sand dunes, menagerie, locally owned boutique shops, and one of the best car shows I have seen, making living in Alva truly a luxury. I am happy that my family moved here.
The biggest problem we have is our failing infrastructure. Failing pipes, failing city trucks and aging equipment makes staff always react to issues – constantly patching issues and being reactive instead of proactive in making this city a better place. I am sure the existing staff and council members want to make this city better, but with so many issues with the infrastructure and limited funds to make the repairs, they are constantly running around patching issues and moving on to the next issue to patch; they rarely get a chance to work on improvement projects (although I did see where this is being addressed – with our water supply).
I also feel like we need to better utilize technology to provide an even safer city and provide the tools the police and fire departments need to protect our citizens. A small town like this would be an ideal candidate to deploy city owned cameras along all major roads, intersections, and downtown to deter crime and to provide the police an excellent tool to solve crimes if/when they do happen. I am not going to sugar-coat and say that I haven't been a bit irritated with Alva's crime rate recently as my truck was recently broken into and my parents' house recently had an attempted robbery as well. We need to provide the police the tools and staffing they need to be able to prevent and stop these crimes from happening. Safety is paramount to a city's growth and very high personally on my list of why we chose to be in Alva.
With the plans in place for a new arena, which will bring more business development and visitors to Alva, we need to always keep in mind to support our fire, police, and hospital staff, that will be supporting all of our visitors and citizens with safety and health as our city continues to grow.
I feel like growth begins with a strong infrastructure and trust. We need to focus on making sure we pay our debts we owe from previous choices made and get that behind us and put measures in place to not allow that to happen again while providing the transparency our citizens want and need to regain trust. We need to then continue to budget and handle our money well so we can afford to make infrastructure repairs our citizens want and need. We need to actively encourage business growth, with current and new business owners, and offer opportunities and training to people willing and wanting to open a business in this great city.
Partnering with local resources to get the word out about opportunities on launching a business or training offers at Northwest Technology in marketing methods will help Alva continue to thrive. Sales tax is a big part of what provides the funds to run this great city, and we must encourage activities that bring new business and visitors to this city to spend money here, like the new arena. If we do a study and find that people are being forced to travel for entertainment, services, or to shop for certain items, we need to see if this is something that Alva could support so that we keep the sales tax local by being able to shop local to better our community and make this town the best it possibly can be.