Mark Nexsen was elected Havasu’s mayor three times, ultimately serving three four-year terms. Former City Councilman Sam Scarmardo was Nexsen’s opponent in that first race in 2006. He said that in hindsight, things turned out for the best.
“I didn’t know Mark at all back in 2006 when we were running against each other in what was a lively and spirited campaign. It turned out that he’s done a wonderful job (as mayor). It worked out great. The city is in great financial shape. Mark is a very nice guy and very dedicated to Lake Havasu City,” he said.
As the years rolled by, Scarmardo said he and Nexsen would speak occasionally about various issues and got to know each other. Scarmardo said he finally shelved his own political ambitions.
“Besides, I’m having more fun being involved in the Republican Party. It’s more fun being a sniper than a target, and you can quote me on that,” he quipped.
Military veteran issues remained front and center for Mayor Nexsen during his time in office. He was instrumental in the Veteran’s Court and envisioned and created the program. Over the years, he worked closely with Todd Evanson, director of the Lake Havasu Vet Center.
“A lot of people say anything to get elected, but Mark was 100 percent genuine about his concern for veterans. He’s a man of his word. If he tells you he’s gonna do something, he does it,” Evanson said.
He believes establishing the Veterans Treatment Court is Nexsen’s great accomplishment as mayor.
“I’m going to miss him and our conversations about his vision and ways to take care of our vets,” he added.
Dale Bailey met Nexsen long before he was Havasu’s mayor. She was an accounting client at his CPA firm. In time, they became personal friends.
“I’ve always been impressed by his professionalism and willingness to do community service,” Bailey said. But she noted that there’s one trait that many people miss about Mayor Nexsen.
“He has a tremendous sense of humor. A lot of people don’t pick up on that right away. He’s soft-spoken,” she said.
To illustrate, she recalled a time when she was president of the local Chamber of Commerce. She asked Nexsen to join the board.
“He expressed an interest in joining, so I asked him to be the legislative chair. He agreed, though he didn’t know much about politics. But he did his homework – a lot of it -- and did an amazing job. He did everything and more than what was expected – so well-informed. Still, some members of the board didn’t know Mark at all and didn’t have confidence in him. They kind of gave him a hard time at our meetings,” Bailey said.
Apparently, Nexsen felt it was time to break the ice. At a subsequent board meeting, he walked into the room with a child’s toy. It was an inflatable Bozo punching bag. He placed it on the conference table.
“He said, ‘OK, boys, give it your best shot.’ Everyone laughed and, eventually, they got to know Mark,” she said.
Bailey worked on Nexsen’s first mayoral campaign.
“He earned my respect and confidence; I thought he’d be a good mayor. He’s done an amazing job with it. He had a lot of courage and brought (the city) through some bad economic times.”
— Pam Ashley