Does Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls have security? Yes, you could say that, but not in the way people might imagine.
Does he have a jet? No, but the city does have a very important plane.
These are the short answers to questions asked of the mayor during an interview with members of the Pueblo Elementary School Media and Marketing Team. The students had the opportunity to query the mayor about a variety of topics before the start of the “Community Conversation with the Mayor” held on Nov. 18.
Nicholls has been hosting the neighborhood meetings to hear the questions and concerns that citizens have in a more casual setting. A mix of residents, including students, have attended the meetings.
The Pueblo Elementary students who conducted the interview included Breena Massey, Gaby Castro, Aymara Lastra, Mikah Birdsong and Julian Franco.
They wanted to know if Nicholls had security. The mayor explained that he does, but not in the way they might think. A team of “men in black” with dark sunglasses might not follow him around, but Police Chief Susan Smith, Deputy Chief Lisa Culp and/or other offices are present at most city events, including this neighborhood meeting and the regular council meetings.
Nicholls also noted that he personally doesn’t have a jet, but the city does own a plane, and it’s hanging in the lobby of City Hall. Called the “City of Yuma,” the Aeronca aircraft flew for a record 47 days, or 1,124 hours, without landing in what is known as the 1949 Endurance Flight.
The purpose was to highlight Yuma’s nearly always sunny weather. The record-setting flight reignited interest in Yuma after World War II and led to the installations of the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. The airplane hangs over a similar model to the 1948 Buick Super convertible that served as the refueling car.
The students asked Nicholls about his hobbies. He replied that he enjoys spending time with his family, racquetball, bicycling, going to the beach and being outdoors. Does he like playing video games? Sometimes, but his four kids are so much more advanced that they leave him behind, he quipped.
What are his responsibilities as mayor? Nicholls explained that his main job is to represent the citizens of Yuma. He’s often out in the public at events and meets with other leaders around the region, state and even the nation (including the President of the United States). He also runs the City Council meetings and works with the six council members to “set up the law and the direction of the city.”
Asked about the most challenging part of his job, Nicholls pointed to the budget, noting that “it all comes down to dollars. There’s never enough money for everything we want to do.” For example, he said, roads are a big problem and need fixing, but there’s not enough money to fix them all.
Another challenge is job creation, he noted.
Being mayor is the “funnest job I’ve ever had but also the most stressful” because he wants to make sure he’s doing a good job, he added.
Did he want to be mayor? No, but people asked him to run for mayor “so I did,” Nicholls said, pointing out that he first served on the City Council and then he wanted to do more.
He explained that he first became aware of the needs of the city through his involvement in the community, such as volunteering with the Rotary Club and his church.
He then told the kids that anybody can be the mayor or a council member. They are responsible for making the community better.
“I’m honored to represent the people of Yuma,” Nicholls said.