While elected the City of Manitowoc’s youngest Mayor at the age of twenty-two, Mayor Nickels is not unlike the community he was elected to lead. Both Mayor Nickels and the City of Manitowoc are vibrant, energetic, forward thinking and have a tremendous amount of community pride that is rooted in the understanding of Manitowoc’s deep history and tradition.
Like most of Manitowoc’s citizens, Mayor Nickels grew up in a working class family with an affinity for helping those around them. Mayor Nickels saw the venue of government and public discourse - with its capacity for neighbors and strangers to come together for the collective benefit of everyone - as the perfect place to continue acting on this affinity.
This led Mayor Nickels to enter politics and government at a young age - working on campaigns and debating public policy since the age of nine. In 2005, at the age of eighteen and still in high school, Mayor Nickels beat the odds and defied the critics when he was elected to serve on the Common Council, defeating a sixteen year incumbent to represent Manitowoc’s Second Aldermanic District.
During Mayor Nickels’ time on the Council, he remained steadfast in his commitment to listen first and act second to ensure he was acting according to the will of those he represented - a commitment that he has brought with him to the Mayor’s office. Mayor Nickels served as the Council’s leading advocate for fiscal responsibility, with the mantra that, “We must prioritize our needs over our wants,” a mantra that he has also brought with him to the Mayor’s office.
On the Council, Mayor Nickels served on numerous committees, including Finance, as well as Personnel, where he served four years as Chairperson. Mayor Nickels served as City Council President from April 2007 through April 2008. He was re-elected to the Council in 2007 and 2009.
On April 7, 2009, Justin M. Nickels was elected Manitowoc’s twenty-seventh Mayor - its youngest Mayor ever, succeeding Manitowoc’s longest serving mayor, Kevin Crawford.
On April 2, 2013, Mayor Nickels was re-elected to a second-term with 84% of the vote.