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Council interviews only candidate for vacant seat



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May 02, 2012 - It doesn't appear the Oxford Village Council is going to have a difficult time appointing someone to fill a vacant seat on the five-member board.

Only one resident, Elgin Nichols, applied for the job.

"You're my Number One candidate for this position. I wish there was a Number Two candidate," quipped Councilman Dave Bailey at the April 24 village meeting.

"I wish there was, too," replied Nichols during his interview with council.

Council is looking for someone to replace Kevin Stephison, who resigned his seat back in March. He was elected in September 2011.

A village resident for one-and-a-half years, Nichols lives in the Oxford Lakes subdivision with his wife, Carol.

"It's a beautiful town," he said. "We love it.'

Nichols currently serves on the municipality's planning commission and zoning board of appeals where apparently, he's been doing a bang-up job.

"He's not a 'yes' man," noted Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth, who serves with Nichols on the planning commission. "He looks through everything (and) asks questions that someone else might not think of. He's very knowledgable."

Bailey concurred with Helmuth's assessment.

"He does his homework before the meeting is called to order," he said. "He's not shuffling papers during the meeting, trying to read everything."

Nichols feels he's ready to take on more responsibility and there's no greater authority within the village than its elected council. He believes that's where he needs to be "if I'm going to do any good . . . for all the people."

"Let's face it – the buck ends here," Nichols said. "If I can best serve here, that's where I would hope to be."

In his view, council members are "the keepers of the gate" for the community.

"It's not our property and it's not our gate," Nichols said. "We have the key and we are to protect the ownership."

Should he be appointed to the seat, Nichols would bring a wealth of diverse experiences to council.

In the private sector, Nichols spent 34 years as the owner and operator of his own company, Nichols Appliance in Bay City. The company had four locations, more than 100 employees and did about $4.5 million in business annually.

From 1986-2002, Nichols owned a television/radio studio and ad agency that wrote commercials and assisted in the production of them. From 1991-2010, he owned a kitchen design business that specialized in remodeling and installations. He's still a licensed Michigan builder.

"I'm very well equipped and knowledgable about (building) codes," he said.

As for previous government experience, Nichols served on Kawkawlin Township's board of trustees, planning commission and zoning board of appeals and variance board.

The township is located in Bay County, less than 20 miles from midtown Bay City.

Helping govern Oxford Village should be no different than Kawkawlin Township, in Nichols' opinion.

"I understand the mechanics of how this town works," he said. "It doesn't work (any differently) than any other town I've been in."

As a graduate of DeVry Electronics School of Technology in Chicago, Illinois, Nichols is also very proficient with a variety of electronics.

He's currently putting some of this expertise to use by working part-time for Oxford Community Television, where he is a news anchor and jack-of-all-trades, doing everything from fixing cameras to filming government meetings.

"If there's an issue with anything electronic, they usually bring it to me and I check it out and determine what the problem is," Nichols told this reporter.

In order to comply with the village charter, council must appoint someone to the vacant seat at its May 8 meeting.

Whoever is appointed will serve until the September 2013 village election.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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