Flinn-Brown Fellow and former Jerome mayor Nikki Check looking to serve her county  

March 26, 2024

By Jessica Vaile

Fellows Spotlight

Nikki Check

(Jerome, 2012)
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Candidate 

“The Flinn-Brown community is something that I continue to draw on mentally. Knowing that there’s this group of people who really do want to find bipartisan solutions and focus more on what people have in common than how they’re different from each other…I still draw upon the concept. That was the Flinn-Brown cohort.” — Nikki Check

Nikki Check is an Arizona native who has spent most of her life in Yavapai County—a county she hopes to serve soon as an elected official. Check, a former mayor of Jerome, is currently running in the primary for Yavapai County Board of Supervisors District 3 with the hope of giving her son’s generation a reason to stay in Arizona.

The 2012 Flinn-Brown Fellow at one time studied agriculture at Yavapai College and Prescott College and then headed to a policy internship in Wisconsin. 

She returned to Arizona when asked by a friend to help fix up an old stagecoach stop built in 1860. The summer turned into a staycation when Check was called to labor in the wine industry. “It was very romantic…it’s really fun to weed whack and pound posts into rocky soil. I got to do the best part with a smile,” Check said.

Check went on to serve as mayor of Jerome from June 2012 to November 2014. In 2016 she was a candidate for District 6 of the Arizona State Senate. 

“I don’t think I would’ve been able to say yes to it without my Flinn-Brown experience and knowing what a big need there was at the state legislature. I was about 1,700 votes away from getting that race,” Check says. “And although that was difficult, it really was a success in the scope of things. It was a top-three race and I learned an incredible amount.”

After Check’s 2016 race, she endured a health crisis which resulted in her losing her short-term memory. It took a couple of years for her to recover, but Check’s tenacity was ever stronger. 

“I feel as though people look at politics and political offices, as though you have to have a perfect life or be a perfect person to even consider holding office. And there’s some merit to that because you’re in a position to be scrutinized at every level, however, I think what’s more important than striving for perfection is really understanding how holding a political office can feed into your purpose,” she said. 

Check is proud that she has allowed herself to be an authentic person while becoming vulnerable to the process of being a public servant without letting her vulnerabilities impede her ability to serve. 

In 2009, Check helped found the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College and later became director of viticulture, helping build the industry she said is special to Arizona’s uniqueness while cultivating sustainable economic opportunities.  

Check says that one of the lessons she learned throughout her viticultural endeavors melds with a message she took away from her Flinn-Brown experience: If you’re trying to do something all by yourself, you’re not going to get very far.

“I came to understand the power of that kind of process and it now feeds into my desire to do that at a political level. I think that is truly the sentiment that is necessary to make progress with policy,” Check said. “It was an incredible experience and that legacy lives on in the many students who have graduated and planted their own vineyards and have their own wine labels. It’s just a true joy to be able to look back and think that I was a part of opening those doors for so many people.”

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic
by Martín Prechtel

Book Recommendation:

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic by Martín Prechtel

“This story is really a story of hope. It’s a story of how you can rebuild a culture out of what we have now, in the modern world. It’s a hopeful story, a powerful one and good for political folks to read because his [Martín Prechtel] life was incredibly political.”

View all Flinn-Brown Fellow profiles here.