Interview with new Douglas County Manager Jim Nichols
Coming from the metropolis of Las Vegas, new manager Jim Nichols is looking forward to the intimacy Douglas County offers.
Nichols, 48, started his first day as county manager Monday.
“My favorite thing so far is the people. They are some of the friendliest, nicest, most genuine folks I’ve had the chance to work with and interact with,” Nichols said. “Compared to Vegas it’s more intimate. In Vegas it’s very easy to be anonymous, and I don’t want that. This is not just a job, it’s a life change.”
After spending his first day meeting with county staff and elected officials, Nichols is looking forward to getting out and meeting the community.
“It’s my responsibility to make myself known, especially coming from the outside,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks I need to get out and meet. It’s important they know who I am. I tell folks if that door’s open I’m available.”
Nichols plans to get involved in the community outside the job as well.
“I believe it’s the county manager’s job to be a part of the community, and that includes outside the job,” he said. “Ultimately my passion is for the overall success and vitality of Douglas County. I believe in this county and see a great foundation for a very vibrant future.”
Nichols applied for Washoe County and Carson City manager before applying for the Douglas job.
“I’m very excited to be here in Douglas County and I’ve told my board many times how grateful I am,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is my last stop.”
Having an engineering background is one of the reasons the board of commissioners hired Nichols for the job.
“I balance a technical aptitude with a strong interpersonal element,” Nichols said. “My vision for the county is that it continues to grow and develop in an appropriately responsible manner while maintaining a safe, environmentally friendly place folks want to be.”
Nichols said his longterm priorities are infrastructure, economic development and the continuation of priority based budgeting.
“I’d be run out of town on a rail if I tried to go in a different direction,” he said of priority based budgeting, “and I don’t plan to.”
County workers protested Nichols’ starting salary when they heard he was asking for $180,000. Commissioners lowered their offer to $172,000, which Nichols accepted. He said he doesn’t expect any problems working with county staff.
“It wasn’t personal. I never heard anyone say I’m opposed to Jim Nichols,” he said. “Ultimately, I chose to accept a lower salary out of their concerns and respect for the employees.”
Having his first commissioners meeting Thursday, Nichols is optimistic about working with the board.
“They’re great people. I mean it,” he said. “I’ve worked with a number of elected bodies over the years, and what I’ve seen of them they have all impressed me with their dedication to the betterment of Douglas County.”
Nichols credits interim manager Larry Werner for making the transition an easy one.
“Larry Werner did such an incredible job as interim,” Nichols said. “He continued the progression forward. I give a lot of credit to Larry for his work in setting a foundation for the next manager.”
Nichols worked as assistant city manager for Midland, Texas, from 2011-March 2014, and deputy city manager of Las Vegas for two years prior to that. He has also worked in various capacities in Arizona and Washington. He has a public management certificate from UNLV, a Master of Science in environmental engineering and a Bachelor of Science.