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Nichols Says Communication is Key for School Board Members


BRADENTON – Carlton 'Les' Nichols says he isn't much for breakfast. "I ate a NutriGrain bar this morning," he said while speaking over the phone; despite that, he calls himself a high-energy person and, as a candidate for Julie Aranibar's District 5 seat on the Manatee School Board, said he has the leadership skills to help turn the troubled district around.

"No one on the board is providing true leadership," he said, adding that he believes communication with taxpayers is also an issue.

A property manager for Argus Property Management, he cited communication as one of his biggest strengths and also emphasized integrity, citing his military background. "If you don't have integrity, you're never going to get through tough times," he said.

On running for the seat, Nichols said, "I decided to because I have the ability to lead and communicate, and also the ability to listen."

He also had criticism for current board members who held seats during Tim McGonegal's administration.

"They've contributed in some form or another - they approved [past faulty budgets] so they are still part of the problem," he said. "To me, they've made the wrong decisions and should be held accountable."

In regard to issues, Nichols talked about helping the district to improve its financial standing.

He has also spoken out against standardized testing and common core. "I do think we need standards [in regards to testing]," he said, "but in regards to common core, I disagree with it. I believe as a district and as a state we can set our own standards, [and] as a district we need to do a better job."

Nichols also wants to focus on revisiting old district policies, saying that it's an area he believes has been lacking on the board.

As he has in the past, he also spoke supportively of Superintendent Rick Mills. "He's made some mistakes and I think that would be expected," he said, while praising what he called his "professionalism" and adding he believes Mills "has the mentality" to move the district in a positive direction.

A native of rural Ringgold, Georgia and a Marine Corps veteran, Nichols has lived in Florida for 15 years, previously living in Santa Rosa County for 13 years before coming to Bradenton two years ago. He was a part of the Santa Rosa County Planning and Zoning commission, the Santa Rosa County tourist development committee, and that county's Chamber of Commerce. He has been married to his wife Jodi Nichols for 16 years; they have three sons and one grandchild.


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