As its mayor for 10 years (1982-92) and a Town Council member since 1974, Wayne Nickum's served Clifton for 30 years. And he's now running again for mayor.
A tax auditor, Nickum, 60, and wife Donna have two sons, Charlie, 24, and David, 21, and have lived in Clifton since 1971. And many town improvements have occurred during his years of service.
"Foremost was Clifton's designation as a historical district, at the state and national level, in 1985," he said. "That was one of my main priorities. It also gave us a supporting platform for our zoning ordinances and ARB [Architectural Review Board] guidelines to help preserve the town's unique historic character and to guard against encroachments of unwanted changes to the town."
THE TOWN COUNCIL got increased sewer hookups from the county so buildings could be restored, and Nickum sponsored several changes to the town charter, giving Clifton the ability to tax and incur indebtedness so, for example, it could purchase property for the town playground.
The council adopted an ordinance allowing Clifton to keep the revenue from the county's BPOL (Business and Professional Occupational Licenses) tax. It also pushed to purchase Clifton's old town hall for use as an office and repository/museum for local, historic artifacts.
Nickum helped establish the CBA's (Clifton Betterment Association) town-improvement fund as nonprofit so people could make tax-free contributions to it. This fund bought two lots next to the old town hall (which Clifton later purchased from the CBA), and also bought the town's flood plain to preserve it as green space.
While Nickum served on the council, Clifton obtained the land for its Eight-Acre park and rented Ayre Square at Main Street and Chapel Road for town events. In 1982, the town playground was redesigned, and neighbors assembled and installed the new equipment together. "We didn't have money, so we pooled our resources for the betterment of the town," he said.
The second major effort by volunteers was building the bridge in Eight-Acre Park in 1984. Said Nickum: "It was a joint project between the CBA and the town." Also that year, he put up Clifton's more historic-looking street signs and still maintains them.
Various improvements continued over the years. The town got an electric substation along Clifton Creek Drive to be reduced in size by about a third and, in 1990, it successfully opposed a VDOT plan to run a four-lane highway through Clifton. "The Town Council took a strong position against it," said Nickum. "They would have had to use state or federal money, but we had a historic district to prevent it."
And while he was mayor, Clifton entered the computer age by computerizing its records. In 1997, Nickum reformatted all the town ordinances. Now he's running for his old job "to bring honesty, integrity and trust back to the position. I think it's lacking — policies adopted by the council not being followed by the mayor."
He wants to get things organized and done on time. "In the past 12 months, getting town agendas and minutes out on time has been lax," he explained. "So it's difficult to look at all the edges of the issues if you don't have enough notice."
NICKUM WANTS to "get the town on an administrative track to do things on a timely basis." He also wants to make sure Clifton's beautification projects are in keeping with the town's historic nature.
For example, Clifton already has the poles for Victorian streetlights, and he wants to see uniform lighting. And, he added, "Maybe we can eliminate some of the clutter of VDOT signs to make it look better."
Nickum believes people should vote for him because he has long-time experience. He said state and county officials know his name and link it with Clifton from his previous contacts with them. "I was in the position for 10 years," he said. "I stepped down so the town could have fresh ideas. Now, I'm running to give them a fresh approach to dealing with problems and to import new ideas."
"I've been there, done that, and believe it's time for a change," he continued. "And by leaving the Town Council, I'm giving someone else an opportunity [to serve on it]." He plans to delegate to involve more people in the government because "that develops leadership, too." Most of all, he said, "I want people to feel they can come to the Town Council and speak, and know their views are being listened to and their voices count."