I was born and raised in Manitowoc. My parents are Dave and Patricia and I have one older sister, Jennifer, all of whom were also born and continue to live in Manitowoc. My sister is married to Brock and they have 3 of the most adorable girls I’ve ever seen.
I was baptized and confirmed at Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church, where my family still attends.
Both my grandparents were also born and raised in Manitowoc. My Grandpa Art and Grandma Audrey Nickels lived on Cherry Street and raised 7 children. My Grandpa was a fire fighter for the City of Manitowoc for almost 40 years. My other grandparents, Ray and Leona Hein, lived in Newton and raised 5 children. My Grandpa was a union leader at Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry where he worked for almost 40 years.
My dad retired from Manitowoc County as a case worker for the human services department and now serves on the County Board representing District 2 and the Manitowoc Public School Board, where he just won re-election overwhelmingly. He’ll tell you his full-time job is now babysitting for my nieces.
My mom just retired from Shady Lane Nursing Home where she was a nurse for almost 35 years (some years with Holy Family Memorial). She prides herself in retirement by babysitting, but also by providing foot care to seniors at the Manitowoc Senior Center.
In the late 1990’s my parents took over the old Ecology Sports on Chicago Street and re-named it Ecology Outfitters. My parents were proud small business owners specializing in hiking, biking, and skiing. I worked there many times, learning very important business skills from my father.
I graduated from Manitowoc Lutheran High School in 2005, where I served all 4 years on the student council, my senior year as President. I then attended UW-Manitowoc where I received my Associates Degree and where I served as Student Senate President for 2 years.
In 2002, after I didn’t make the basketball team, I went into officiating. I’ve officiated basketball, football, track and cross country ever since, and I love it!
I have had a love of politics and government since I was 9 years old where I worked on campaigns and debated public policy. In 2005, at the age of eighteen and still in high school, I was elected to serve on the Common Council, defeating a sixteen year incumbent to represent Manitowoc’s Second Aldermanic District.
During my time on the Council, I remained steadfast in my commitment to listen first and act second to ensure I was acting according to the will of those I represented – a commitment that I have brought with me to the Mayor’s office. I was the Council’s leading advocate for fiscal responsibility, with the mantra that, “We must prioritize our needs over our wants,” a mantra that I have also brought with me to the Mayor’s office.
On the Council, I served on numerous committees, including Finance, as well as Personnel, where I served four years as Chairperson. I served as Common Council President from April 2007 through April 2008 and was re-elected to the Council in 2007 and 2009.
On April 7, 2009, I was elected Manitowoc’s twenty-seventh Mayor – its youngest Mayor ever, succeeding Manitowoc’s longest serving mayor, Kevin Crawford. I was re-elected in April, 2013 to serve another four-year term, defeating challenger Tony Burgarino with 84% of the vote.
In 2014, I was elected by my colleagues from around the State of Wisconsin to serve as the President of the Urban Alliance for a two-year term. The Urban Alliance is an organization made-up of the top 40 cities in the State and acts as a lobby corp for cities.
I love this community and my commitment to it is very important to me. This is the city that my entire family has called home, that employed us, that provided services to us, that educated us. Now, looking at my own life and my nieces, I’m excited for the opportunities that are ahead of us.
I am forever grateful that almost 12 year ago you gave a fresh-faced 18 year old an opportunity to serve on the Common Council. I hope I have earned your trust and respect to continue to serve this city for another 4 years as your mayor.
Here are a list of a few areas throughout the community I am involved in.
Boards and Commissions:
Plan Commission (chair)
Board of Public Works (chair)
Committee of the Whole (voting member)
Manitowoc Public Utilities Commission (voting member)
Citizens Advisory Committee
Manitowoc Area Visitor and Convention Bureau Ex-Officio Board Member
Progress Lakeshore Ex-Officio Board Member
Urban Alliance President
League of Wisconsin Municipalities Board Member
Manitowoc County Sports Officials Association
Elks Lodge #687 Member
Noon Rotary Member
Young Elected Officials Network
Lakeshore CAP Board Member
Manitowoc Yacht Club Member
Former Boards and Commissions: