Mayor taps Nichols for role of chief administrative officer

Mayor A.J. Holloway for the past several weeks has been looking for a director of administration to replace the retiring David Staehling, but instead the mayor has found a familiar face who will play a larger role in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city.
David Nichols

David Nichols, who served as Holloway’s chief administrative officer for his first two terms in office, is the mayor’s choice to return to that position.

As CAO, Nichols will assist the mayor in overseeing the day-to-day operation of city government, supervise all department directors and administrative staff, and he will report directly to the mayor.

Holloway will ask the City Council to ratify the appointment during the City Council meeting on Tuesday. The mayor is proposing to pay the 56-year-old administrator $105,000 per year, which matches Nichols’s current salary as director of the Economic and Urban Development Department for the city of Gulfport. He would begin work in Biloxi in January, just as David Staehling begins his retirement.

“David Nichols will best serve me and the people of Biloxi as chief administrative officer,” Holloway said. “He brings a wealth of experience to the CAO position, and he’s going to put that experience to work in the day-to-day operations of this city.”

Nichols has directed Gulfport’s Economic and Urban Development Department since 2011. For five years before that, his Nichols Planning and Consulting firm advised and assisted numerous south Mississippi cities and other agencies in preparing and implementing grant programs that accounted for millions of dollars in state and federal funds.

He served as Gulfport’s chief administrative officer under Mayor Brent Warr in 2006, as Biloxi’s chief administrative officer from 1994 to 2001, and he directed Biloxi’s Community Development Department from 1991 to 1993.

A native of Laurel, he holds two degrees from the University of Mississippi: a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in business, which satisfies Biloxi’s requirement that the CAO hold either a law degree or a degree in business, public administration or related administrative profession.

Nichols began his career shortly after graduating from Ole Miss, as Jones County’s state and federal programs coordinator in 1980. He also served for four years as Laurel’s director of public safety, and administered state and federal programs for the North Delta Planning and Development District before coming to Biloxi in 1991.

He and his wife Mary live in Biloxi, and they are involved in myriad community activities, including Gulf Coast Carnival Association, Cavaliers carnival group, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.