Voters across Nashville get the chance to vote for the Metro Council’s five at-large seats.
The competition to win those spots is intense again this year, with 15 candidates. Among them are six current council members, who have already proven they can win at the ballot box, as well as former members, a past state lawmaker and other well-known civic figures.
WPLN asked the candidates to answer three key questions, each with answers of no more than 200 words.
For this article, the question was: What’s your big idea for improving life in Nashville?
More questions for the at-large candidates: How They’ve Navigated Thorny Projects and How Will They Lead Countywide?
Candidate answers follow below in alphabetical order.
Youth violence in Nashville can affect all communities and needs to be addressed in a number of ways. While the police have created a special youth violence task force, other proactive measures are even more important. The council needs to fund and support the opening of Park community centers on weekends and after school and to ensure that programming is available to provide youth with opportunities for homework support, sports, or other enrichment.
The Library’s after school program should also be expanded, and non-profits that provide effective after school programming should be funded. The summer youth employment program, Opportunity Now, should be promoted by every council member so that businesses are aware of the importance of providing meaningful employment and mentoring opportunities for youth who may not otherwise have a productive way to spend summer months.
By educating and nurturing our youth, we can not only reduce destructive behavior, we can change lives and support the development of productive citizens.
Nashville has been assuming that all the problems that we need to solve are fixed, when in reality a percentage of Nashville residents are not part of the policy-making conversation. The first “big idea” is to truly engage with all residents regardless of background and/or geography. I propose to use participatory budgeting to make decisions about our budget and Metro properties. The residents most impacted should lead the way.
I don’t have a big idea. There are a lot of problems such as crime, education and shifting the focus back to our neighborhoods.
There is a park called Lytle Park that is going unused, and I think it is the perfect location for a community-run farm and homeless shelter. We could move our Continuum of Care homeless division to this site and then we could present people who are down on their luck or in need of mental health services a hand up, not a handout. We can get them enrolled in the services they need, offer them volunteer positions on the property and help them find permanent housing were they can afford it. All while using this wonderful city-owned property to its fullest potential as a farm and food forest. Once established we can address issues like tent cities and aggressive panhandling.
Let’s focus on the outlying neighborhoods like Bellevue, Antioch, Donelson, Hermitage, Old Hickory, Madison, Goodlettsville, Joelton, just to name a few, and improve the quality of life for those residents. By improving services like public safety and public works, along with funding projects that affect people everyday, like storm water issues, new sidewalks, and much needed road improvements.
The quality of life for all in Nashville-Davidson County can be improved, when the quality of public education is enhanced, serious pockets of economic disparities are closed and a proactive approach to addressing public safety is offered. As a Metro Council at-large candidate my priority over the next four years is to address the aforementioned eclectically. You may see the full plan, via power point presentation by visiting my website at https://www.constituentadvocacy.com/campaign-resources.
I’m running solely on the issue of improving our public safety. Nashville needs to reprioritize the safety of our citizens and our guests. We are over 160 police and first responders short of the minimum we should have right now. This must be corrected immediately. Our current elected official have failed to prioritize this. I believe so strongly in this that I am not soliciting campaign support in the General Election, and am self-funded.
To honor our commitment to all Metro employees and work to find a real solution to fix education and pay down the debt in Nashville.
It’s not a big idea, it is simple … the simple becomes profound when the product is alive. We all know that Nashville is great, it has always been the “It” city to all its citizens before the world knew it was the “It”. Thus, I believe every citizen has a right to a quality of life and the city should provide that opportunity, no matter the zip code, neighborhood or socioeconomic status. That means intentional and deliberate equity and inclusion, remembering the marginalized and disenfranchised, embracing the younger population and addressing human issues. The prosperity that the “It” drives to our local economy must now be shared among us all.
My big idea for improving Nashville is for the city to live within its budget to fund necessary services, specifically funding Metro Schools adequately and support a robust infrastructure, without increasing property taxes on its citizens.
A property tax increase is not the answer, however reviewing our tax incentives to big business, while ignoring small shops and businesses, hurts the character of our entire population. We must be equitable, finding unique funding sources and be fiscally responsible.
We must create a Nashville for all, not just the few. To do this trust and transparency needs to be restored. One way to achieve this is by requiring the disclosure of investors of big developers that we provide public funds to.
Another issue is redefining what public safety and justice look like in our city. There’s no denying that there are two justice systems that exist in our society: one for the wealthy and another for the poor. Along with fully funding our public safety workers, I will push for community-based alternatives to incarceration which includes investment in community organizations that work on anti-violence and assist at-risk youth and families.
At the same time, it’s imperative that equity in housing, education and employment are established. I believe there are creative ways we can approach this. One such idea is the creation of an anti-displacement task force which could protect Nashville’s culture by keeping our musicians, restaurants, small business owners and other working-class residents in the city.
To continue moving Nashville forward, the city should focus more on financial transparency and keeping our promises to all Nashvillians. Too often, people feel like the city is growing just the sake of growth. For many years, we have heard the promise that, if we develop downtown, we will be able to pay for what we need to do as a city. But with the city’s recent financial woes, this promise is not being kept.
Most of us believe that more investment is needed throughout the city. The Metro Council should lead in choosing goals and setting priorities. The council should ensure that equity issues like affordable housing, transit, and policing are in the forefront both in policy and in practice. There is no reason why different parts of Nashville should have to compete with one another for resources. If Nashville puts its mind to it, we can have our beautiful downtown as well as a complete community that makes us all proud to be Nashvillians.
It is hard to pick one single issue that would improve life in Nashville since there are so many issues that need addressing. Issues such as infrastructure, public safety, public education, affordable housing and the list goes on. However, if I had to pick one issue that I think needs addressing, it would be creating a true Metropolitan form of government. Obviously, this is an issue that would require long term planning, but we must start somewhere. I would dare say, the founders of the Metropolitan Government never dreamed we would be this many years later and still be operating under a two-tier tax system. It is my belief, if we had a true Metropolitan Government, much of the items listed above could be addressed as it relates to infrastructure, public safety and even education. I would encourage, and if necessary, pass a resolution asking the Mayor to appoint a committee to address this issue.
My immediate idea to improving life in Nashville is a livable wage. Minimum wage was $7.25 in 2009 and is still the same in 2019, while rent has gone from $700 in 2009 to $1,500 in 2019. While cost of living continue to increase, wages has been stagnant. This has impacted the quality of life for many. Minimum wage is determined by the state and not Metro, however, as the third-largest employer, increasing wages for Metro and MNPS employees will have an immediate impact in the life of many Nashville residents.
My biggest idea, though, which is long-term in nature, is investing in our schools. We must equitably increase funding for our schools. Not just educational but the social-emotional learning of our kids. A good education system will impact earning capacity, workforce development and economic growth of a city. It is the future of our kids and our city, and we must invest in it.
Every neighborhood can and should benefit from Nashville’s prosperity — success that I capitalized on when rebuilding Bellevue over the last eight years as the district councilmember. Government’s commitment to build up our neighborhoods for jobs, realize non-property tax revenue where there was none, increase home values, and have a great place to live, work and play should be the priority. Neighborhood focused public-private partnerships can provide equitable access to better job opportunities and more money in the pockets of Nashvillians. I am experienced in capitalizing on Nashville’s prosperity in order to enhance a community and as Councilmember At-Large, I would advocate for a collaboration among the council, administration and community stakeholders that would put such a plan in place for all Nashvillians to benefit.