MT. PLEASANT MAGAZINE
Chris Nickels: Meet the New Town Council
You could say that newly-elected Mount Pleasant Council-man Chris Nickels ended up in the Lowcountry based on a gut feeling. He said he absolutely felt called to Mount Pleasant and then called to serve his adopted hometown. Mount Pleasant voters elected the 48-year-old to the Town Council in November 2011. Public service seemed like a natural progression to Nickels.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s in finance and a minor in economics, he went on to earn his law degree with honors. Opting to head for a warmer climate, he packed up his degrees and his cat and headed for Albuquerque, New Mexico – sight unseen. There he met his wife, Kimarie, and started a family. During one trip to Georgia to visit his in-laws, the Nickels’ took a side trip to Myrtle Beach. On the way there, something else caught their eye.
“As we were driving, we drove through Mount Pleasant and said, “What a lovely community,”" Nickels recalled.
As they zipped around town, Kimarie Nickels remarked, “Wouldn’t it be nice to move back to the South?”
Returning to Albuquerque, Nickels and his wife began serious discussions. In the mid-1990s, after visiting Mount Pleasant just that one time, the family took a leap of faith and moved across the country.
For Nickels, Mount Pleasant just feels like home – from its natural beauty to its Southern charm. In fact, Nickels calls the town “Mayberry on steroids.”
“It’s really remarkable. I like the fact that it’s called a town and not a city,” he noted. “It feels like a town.”
Nickels enjoys the “sense of community” he has experienced in Mount Pleasant, but he also applauds big-city amenities such as the Police, Fire and Public Works departments and the town’s many parks.
Nickels has honed his leadership skills since moving to Mount Pleasant, serving his homeowners’ association as well as on community boards and commissions such as the Mount Pleasant Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Town of Mount Pleasant Board of Zoning Appeals. He also graduated from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Leadership Charleston program.
“I learned that rather than just sitting on my hands and squawking about something, it was really important for me to be involved,” he said.
His vision for Mount Pleasant involves strong management of town finances and bridging what he sees as a gap between government and the public.
“Open and accountable government. I’m going to try to make it easier for the average person to get a glimpse into how the government works and how to get involved in the government,” he commented.
Nickels also plans to maintain a focus on promoting the town’s core services and addressing the needs of Mount Pleasant’s aging population.
Outside of his role on the Council and as a partner in Clawson and Staubes, LLC, expect to see the Nickels clan out and about.
Kimarie is a registered nurse at East Cooper Medical Center. They have two children in college, Eric at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Laura at the Medical University of South Carolina. Kathy is graduating from Wando High School in 2012 and will be attending Clemson University.
“We spend a good amount of time at Memorial Waterfront Park. We love to walk and jog there. We enjoy the beaches. We enjoy going dowtown. We love the Pitt Street Bridge and the new Shem Creek Park,” Nickels said.