Editor’s Note: The Battalion recently offered all the candidates running for public office in the cities of Bryan and College Station as well as Brazos County the opportunity to submit guest opinion pieces. We will be publishing the articles of those who accepted that offer daily between Oct. 26 and Election Day.
John Nichols is a professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Texas A&M and candidate for Place 5 on the City Council of College Station in the 2020 general election on Nov. 3.
I learned this word when I first arrived in College Station. It is more than just a phrase. It is a statement of community and a shorthand way of expressing our shared values. These values are not only on the campus of Texas A&M; they are represented across the entire City of College Station and beyond. I spent my whole professional career as a faculty member and department head in the Department of Agricultural Economics. My wife and I have raised our family here and call the city of College Station not just the home of A&M but also our family’s home.
The city of College Station was created in 1938 to serve the faculty, staff and students of our great university. Since those early beginnings, the city has gone through many developmental phases. However, it always has been a home for off-campus students and neighborhoods shared with faculty and staff families. Many of our local business leaders choose to live here as well. More recently, an increasing number of former students are returning for retirement. Every city has to provide the structure or platform for residents and investors to flourish as they go about their daily lives. College Station provides all the physical infrastructure and quality services one might expect in a town of our size — and we do it very efficiently with a low tax rate for cities our size in Texas.
However, our city has a higher calling. It is and has always been the home of A&M. Implied in this concept is the responsibility to be an active partner to the university. As the Councilman in Place 5, I take this role very seriously. I know from experience that A&M has a worldwide presence and competes in a global market in ideas, education and research. Recruiting talented “knowledge workers” of all kinds includes providing amenities that reach beyond the campus working environment. The best of the best can find educational and career opportunities anywhere in the country, indeed many places in the world. We must have excellent schools, parks and recreational areas, shopping and spouses’ employment opportunities. We must provide safe, friendly neighborhoods and services that maintain properties and protect homeowners’ investment value. In my volunteer role and now as an elected representative, I have always advocated for the resources and staffing to build a city that can compete globally, even though we have few natural amenities. I have worked with the student government to review and discuss ways the city can provide a safer environment for pedestrians and drivers. I believe in excellence in all that we build and do, just as A&M does. If the city cannot provide that, we will not be the right partner.
I am running for reelection based on my long career of volunteer leadership in the community. My commitment has always been to “show up,” do the work and make the hard decisions. My record of cooperative leadership in the area and on the council is well known and established. In my second term, our challenges will focus me on three key areas: maintain fiscal and budget discipline, partner with local businesses to help recover our pandemic-stressed local economy and protect and strengthen our neighborhoods.
As a professional economist with experience as a department head during the Great Recession and my council experience, I am the best candidate to address the city’s budget and finance issues. As an active leader in the B-CS Chamber of Commerce, I have the community network to understand local business needs and how we can partner to recover and grow our economy.
When I say I want to protect and strengthen our neighborhoods, I am inclusive of all who live here, whether for a few years as a student or a lifetime. In College Station, we have always had a culture where student rentals are a feature near the campus. I understand the pressures and conflicts facing students. I also know that many students prefer to live in a neighborhood with some of the amenities of home. I am committed to protecting the current off-campus neighborhood rental properties through permanent waivers under any occupancy overlay ordinances that we might develop.
If we work together, we will be successful together as the home of A&M. I would like for you to join me in this effort and ask for your vote.
John Nichols, the last name on the College Station City Council, Place 5 ballot.