Deputy AG Nimmo wins Tahlequah School Board election
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials often assume other roles inside and outside the tribe, and a member of the tribe’s Office of the Attorney General recently won a local special election.
Chrissi Nimmo, deputy attorney general, was elected on April 2 to assume the empty No. 4 Office on the Tahlequah Public Schools board of education. Nimmo won against Carden Crow, also a CN citizen. Nimmo got 583 votes – or 85 percent of the ballots – to Crow’s 105.
“I have three kids, 4-year-old twins Mattie and James in pre-k at Tahlequah Public Schools, and my baby Emmy, who will start there in a couple of years,” Nimmo said. “Their education is important to me, and I couldn't think of a better way to have a positive impact.”
Nimmo said she was “not completely” surprised to win the election. She expected some degree of recognition among voters because her name is unusual and area media frequently sources her.
“I also had an outpouring of support from friends, CN employees and fellow Cherokees when I announced I was running,” Nimmo said. “My opponent Carden was very gracious about my victory. He said more than once during the race that he would have voted for me if he wasn’t running, and contacted me immediately on election night with a genuine congratulations.”
The board’s fourth seat was vacated due the death of former State Sen. Jim Wilson, who served eight years in the state House. The Vietnam veteran died on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
“I loved Senator Wilson and what he stood for and am honored to be in his previous seat,” Nimmo said.
Shortly after being elected, Nimmo attended her first board meeting, and she said the board is taking solid steps to help students toward academic success.
“I want to ensure the focus is on academics and make sure we do everything we can to remove barriers to learning,” she said. “In my first meeting we approved a plan by TPS Superintendent (Leon) Ashlock to provide, free of cost to families, school supplies for all pre-k through fifth-grade students. That is a great start.”
Nimmo said she has frequently volunteered her time, but had never before thought of running for office. She credited many for their assistance, including those within the CN.
“I saw this as an opportunity to give back. Both Chief (Bill John) Baker and AG (Todd) Hembree supported my decision to run,” Nimmo said. “In fact, my first congratulatory call came from the chief.”
As deputy attorney general, Nimmo said her duties and experience as a tribal citizen and employee can help the TPS board address the district’s challenges.
“I see the direct impact the Cherokee Nation makes in our communities every day, but I also know the individual contributions of our citizens in their own communities are immeasurable,” she said. “I think part of that is because we are steeped in a tradition of taking care of each other, especially our children. I’ve recently dealt with school boards over this issue of whether Native students could wear eagle feathers at graduation. I think that work for Cherokee Nation may have had a little to do with sparking my interest.
Nimmo said she would like to see more members of her demographic on ballots for elections.
“Both women and Natives are underrepresented at all levels of public office,” she said. “I hope my decision to step out of my comfort zone and run for public office will encourage other Cherokee women to do the same – whether that is for local, state, tribal or national seats.”