Nichols becomes third Republican candidate to file for County Commission District 1 seat

Marine Corps vet has been serving on three county advisory boards

Yet a third person has entered the Republican Primary for the District 1 Sarasota County Commission seat that Commissioner Michael Moran will vacate in late 2024 because of term limits.

Les Nichols of Sarasota filed for the seat on Jan. 9, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office records show.

He joins business owner and former Sarasota County Planning Commissioner Teresa Mast and former County Commissioner and Florida House member Ray Pilon in that race, as The Sarasota News Leader reported last week.

In Nichols’ biographical information provided to the Supervisor of Elections Office, he noted that he is a Marine Corps veteran who grew up in a military family. He has three children, he added, two of whom also are serving in the military — one in the Air Force; the other, in the Marine Corps.

Further, Nichols noted that he serves on three county boards: the Historical Commission; the Citizen Tax Oversight Committee, which is not considered an advisory board; and the Health Facilities Authority & Industrial Development Revenue Bond Citizens Advisory Committee.

Nichols noted in his campaign statement that he believes the county needs a commissioner who will be focused “on innovation, business expansion, and sustainable residential growth. No more of the old way of thinking.” He added in the statement, “The county needs a fresh face with energy and motivation to serve the people of Sarasota at the highest level.”

The statement also said of Nichols, “He represents the future of Sarasota. He is not the 1-year warranty. He is the 20 year warranty.”

The statement continued, “You will hear candidates say that they want to lower taxes. However, in a time of increasing wages and rising inflation, we need to work with the County Administrator in managing the day-to-day and work to manage our current tax base. To lower taxes means you must cut back on services and county staff.”

Nichols further noted that he believes the county needs “to keep a high employee retention rate …. Consistency with county and operational knowledge will make us as a county better and stronger,” the statement said.

Additionally, Nichols pointed out that he wants “to continue to see Sarasota be the leader in the state. Hence the reason why Sarasota is the relocation capital!”

The statement concludes with this assertion: “Les is your pro-Sarasota candidate.”

The Supervisor of Elections Office records show that Nichols ran unsuccessfully last year for the District 1 seat on the Sarasota County Charter Review Board. In the candidate’s statement he submitted in conjunction with that campaign, he wrote that he had been in the property management/real estate industry in Florida for more than 22 years. He added, “I am a TRUE conservative and will bring those values with me on the Board!”

Nichols also noted, at the time of his filing for that race, that he had been a Sarasota resident for more than six years.

During the August 2022 Republican Primary, Nichols lost his bid for the Charter Review Board seat, taking 40.3% of the votes to Sarasota resident Alexandra Coe’s 59.7%. Coe prevailed in the General Election last year, as well.

Additionally, Nichols was a candidate for the Manatee County School Board District 5 seat in 2014, when he was living in Bradenton, as shown in that county’s election data. He lost that race, as well.