Positive Politics by John M. Wylie II
Our 2nd District Congressman since 2013 apparently doesn’t want the job, regularly saying ethics rules shackle citizen legislators.
His growing wealth says otherwise, but up to now voters had little chance to help him come home.
That will change Aug. 28 if registered Democrats and Independents vote for Jason Nichols in the Democratic run-off primary (where registered Independents can also cast ballots).
Jason’s victory that day will provide a powerful, positive alternative to the incumbent. He’s one of us, a lifelong resident of Cherokee County, a teacher at his alma mater—Northeastern State University—following his parents as an educator after spending time working in Information Technology.
He’s learned politics and government where the rubber meets the road—teaching political science at NSU and serving the public first as a Tahlequah city councilor and now as mayor.
So he’s used to hearing from everyday people his actions and decisions affect—1-on-1 at the grocery, café, drug store, First Baptist Church and even helping unload delivery trucks his grandmother’s Tahlequah food pantry.
He drives a normal vehicle and puts out and picks up his signs at events he attends. Providing efficient, frugal and community-friendly public service is a normal activity, not a buzz phrase.
His wife Jennifer is mother to their two girls while working with him. She’s helped Habitat for Humanity, serving on its local board and helping build several homes. After her sister died in a 2002 alcohol-related crash, she has fought drunk driving by talking to DUI offenders about her family’s experiences.
Jason’s ready to serve the public, continuing generations of his family who fully honor the “service” part of public service.
Jason won’t claim common-sense ethics most of us learned in grade school “don’t fit the bill as a citizen legislator…plumber, and rancher.”
Our current Congressman took office with income somewhere between $357,000 and $1.3 million a year, and a net worth between $2.8 million and $9 million. After 6 years’ suffering, his income was between $3.4 million and $13.1 million with net assets between $3.3 million and over $14.7 million. (Those tough ethics guidelines let those they burden reveal their finances in ranges–$1-$1,000, $1,001-$15,000, $500,000 to $1 million and so on. What are the actual totals?).
Even at the bottom level, he’s gone from rich to richer in DC-land, yet he just charged us taxpayers mega bucks to mail a slick brochure touting his political views—possibly violating not one but two of those regulations he decries.
He was elected with no government experience, and the little he’s gained could have gotten you rapped knuckles or a strong scolding in grade school.
His lectures constituents, including telling a group last year it is “bullcrap” that taxpayers pay his salary because his own taxes more than cover it. “I thank God this is not how I make my living,” he added.
When Jason talks with citizens, he presents broad ideas and then encourages a real discussion of how best to get there—or if the path should be redefined towards a slightly different goal.
Two perfect examples, big issues important to all of us, came up during a recent gathering in Verdigris:
• Honesty and efficiency in government, and;
• Developing a form of universal health care that is better but affordable—for the patient, the nation and the providers.
Health care impacted everyone. Several had experience in different parts of the health field. A truly productive discussion followed, covering a variety of problems, possible solutions, potential drawbacks and an agreement that no American should need vast wealth to stay alive and have a productive future.
Rather than a political debate, it was more like that magical classroom moment when light bulbs glow as both the students and teachers learn.
Jason was willing to share a story about a mistake he’d made as mayor and, when it was identified, making the needed changes. That’s how government is supposed to work—it lets government improve the honest, efficient public service citizens expect.
Compare that to the incumbent. After a five-year review of allegations, the House Ethics Committee told the incumbent to repay $40,000 he was mistakenly paid in 2013, but also noted that he had sought and complied with ethics advice from the committee involving all other allegations.
The record shows that the incumbent’s 2013 letter to the committee called the original inquiry “unwarranted” undertaken with “no sufficient basis”, and his lawyers said a year later, “This matter never should have come before the Committee in an investigative posture.”
When the final report was issued, Mullin huffed in a taxpayer-funded news release, “you can no longer be a citizen legislator. You have to be a career politician to serve in Washington, D.C.”
Voters will decide, an easy choice when the options are Jason Nichols and the incumbent–who can come home so Jason can represent true 2nd District values.
The important vote is Aug. 28 so he has that chance.