With a new board of mayor and aldermen in place, aldermen were assigned to committees and various city duties. During this process, Ryan French stepped down as vice mayor after holding the title for six years and gave his endorsement to Bill Nickels, who was elected to the board in August. Nickels was officially named vice mayor during the Oct. 2 BOMA meeting. The decision was quick and many spectators during the meeting didn’t catch that it occurred.
The transition was set to occur in September, but the board decided to push it back to October’s meeting.
“It was interesting how it happened – happened without me having any input into it,” Nickels said.
Nickels explained that, after the September meeting, French texted him and said he would support Nickels if he wanted the vice mayor title. Nickels responded that he would be happy to, as long as French was sure he didn’t want to run again.
With French’s endorsement, Nickels went ahead and put his name in for vice mayor.
“We voted on it and did it,” he said. “That was it.”
As vice mayor, Nickels will be sitting in on meetings City of Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman can’t attend. French explained that this means the vice mayor has to keep the mayor’s administrative agenda in mind while sitting in on these meetings.
So far, Nickels sat in on the Arnold Community Council and Industrial Board. He believes Manchester should have representation there, as the air force base greatly affects the Manchester region.
In hand with being vice mayor, Nickels is the chairman of the Finance Committee. Having been on BOMA in 2006, Nickels sat on the Finance Committee then too.
“I’m not a guy that thinks government is wasting money or that we’re overspending,” he said. “On the same token, I do know that governments tend to grow if they’re unchecked…everything else that happens in this town happens because their checkbook is balanced.”
“I’m a very progressive person, sometimes you have to spend money before money comes in,” he added. “At the same time, I think…our economy supposedly is as robust it’s ever been, but where I look people are saying there’s no money…day to day life of most people believe the conversation that the world is perfect and rosy. I don’t necessarily trust the description of our economy enough to put the city budget at risk by extending it any further.”
He explained that being fiscally responsible is difficult, because there are hurdles like losing funds that the past administration never used, or needed to spend money on certain items that the past boards never purchased.
Nickels is confident this board will not make the mistakes of past boards and will conduct business in a timely and transparent manner.
French added that he is also excited to work with the new board members and that BOMA and the city are in better positions than “we’ve been in decades.”
When French joined the board as vice mayor in 2012, the city had about $1 million in the reserve fund. Now, the city is up to $6 million, which they saved for to pay for large items such as new firetrucks.
“The financial situation of the city between 2012 and now is a complete 180,” French said.
To continue the growth, French said Nickels is a good man for the job.
“Bill is uniquely qualified to serve in any capacity the city has,” French said. “He has a really strong grip on the reality of where we sit. He doesn’t get bogged down in hearsay or rumors. He’s very analytic and puts a lot of time and research…we’re in good hands wherever Bill Nickels serves this city.”
New aldermen assignments
The new aldermen assignment are as follows:
Nickels is on the planning commission, finance committee and the street and street light committee.
Alderman Chris Elam is on the safety committee, the street and street light committee, recreation committee, landfill committee and the I.T. committee.
Alderman Ryan French is on the safety committee, street and street light committee and the tourism committee.
Aldermen Marilyn Howard is on the safety committee, finance committee and the I.T. committee.
Aldermen Bob Bellamy is on the finance committee, water and sewer commission, landfill committee and the adult entertainment committee.
Aldermen Mark Messick is on the landfill committee, the Manchester Arts commission and the I.T. committee.