Q1) Southeast Nashville is currently facing a myriad of issues. Which have you been actively involved in addressing and do you find to be most pressing now?
ANSWER #1 Our family has lived in D33 for 25 years. While doing so, we have educated, started a business, and been among the community! Our children are grown, and our season of life has changed. We have time now to get to know, listen, and understand the concerns and struggles while serving the people of our district. Therefore, the most important issue as your councilman is to listen, communicate, and represent the good people of D33! With that said, the most pressing issue to me in D33 is changing the stigma, perception, and false narrative of 37013. It’s not fair to YOU, it’s not truth and it harms you financially by artificially holding down your property values. In a way, this steals from you. For the last 25 years, in one conversation at a time; in love and civility, not in confrontation I have stood firm and pushed back against it. I consider this council run as my mission, my calling, my service to you who live in D33. I will defend the honor of your home and continuously work to change this false perception. We have a great community with great people and I want everyone to know it! There are concrete and practical ways to do this that I’ll address specifically in the following questions and answers.
Q2) Mayor Barry is proposing the privatizing of certain public services or facilities ( the airport) to potentially help pay for her transportation plan. Is this a good idea and are there other city services that you would support privatizing?
ANSWER #2 I generally do not like the idea of privatizing most public services. In high school and college, I worked at three different state parks in West TN. During that time, I learned as full time state employees they received state benefits and state retirement. These were not high paying jobs, but they were good jobs. From the park rangers to the maintenance crew to the kitchen staff to the inn keepers; they all worked hard, enjoyed their job and the parks ran smoothly. Everyone seemed to benefit! I saw how it can work and work well. I’m afraid, if we privatize most public services we could lose the “pride of doing a good job” that most public employees seem to have. I feel we should keep what’s public now - public in future and what’s private now – private in the future.
Q3) There was no property tax increase proposed this year... Many feel that there will be property tax increase proposed in the next budget cycle. What will be your process for evaluating the need for a property tax increase? Under what circumstances might you support an increase?
ANSWER #3 I will not support a property tax increase in next year’s budget. The money is there and we need to manage it. The D33 residences pay enough in taxes now. I want to make Metro Govt work for and serve you… not the other way around!
Q4) Recently, there has been much discussion about Police Community Relations, specifically in the black community, triggered in part by the Gideon's Army Report and the several events in our community. What role can/ should Council play in improving Community relations as a whole - no matter the race or ethnicity? What specific actions will you take as a Council Member to improve the dialogue in Southeast Nashville?
ANSWER #4 As I mentioned in ANSWER #1, there is a false narrative about the level of crime in D33 and 37013 in general. The real stats don’t confirm this to be truth as it was wonderfully written and expertly illustrated by the Tennessean reporter, David Plazas, in his piece, “Antioch: Nashville’s rising phoenix with a PR problem”. Everybody that lives in 37013 should read it. It documents and confirms what I’ve been thinking for 25 years. The #1 thing that I can do as a council member to make a measurable difference in reducing crime and improving community relations in D33 is to support the police! These dedicated men and women in blue are the best among us. I will communicate and meet regularly with Metro Police to keep us safe and secure in our neighborhoods! They deal with more stressful, tenuous, and dangerous situations each week than the rest of us can even imagine! They are the difference between civilization and kayos. They are Nashville’s best ambassadors. I put them in the same category as the military who protect and defend our outside borders, while Blue protect and defends us inside. In Council, I will support them in the budget to make sure they have the needed resources, paid a fair wage, and receive good benefits and retirement. We must attract and retain the best quality people for these jobs. It’s critical as our city grows. Currently, Metro Nashville police are below the average pay scale for cities of our size. We have a smaller force than other cities our size, and we are growing WAY faster than all these other cities. We MUST address this. In council, I will stand up, speak out and lead, so we don’t experience a disaster in the coming decade.
Q5) D33 has a lot of undeveloped land. What will be your guiding principles when approached by property owners / developers with new potential projects for D33?
ANSWER #5 As I have spoken with current officials about the day in day out duties of this Council job, I keep coming back to this, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ZONING STUPID. The most important job of councilman is negotiating, managing and approving (or not) zoning and developing projects in D33 and the surrounding area. The D33 council person will get elected and/or re-elected based on if the voters agree or disagree with votes about zoning. This is where the rubber meets the road.... This is what affects the folk’s property wealth and quality of life. Most of the other issues also centers around zoning. Zoning influences everything such as traffic, infrastructure, crime, litter, school / education, utilities, services and most importantly YOUR property values!!!
MY SIMPLE ZONING RULE – If you like this I WILL NOT disappoint you - I WILL NOT sign off or support any new development project or zoning change in D33 that has the potential of harming your property values. I MUST be convinced that it will add value to your property or I WILL NOT support it. The construction MUST be as nice or preferably nicer than the surrounding structures. It MUST be an upgrade. There MUST be infrastructure improvements made to support it. I will communicate and work with the D33 residents as well as adjoining district council members to see that this happens for the best of the area. I WILL NOT accept campaign contributions for any builder or developer as to never, ever, even give a slight appearance of a quid pro quo.Also, I WILL NOT sign off or support any additional apartments, town houses, condo’s or Section 8’s in D33 or in 37013. As illustrated by the David Plazas piece, “Antioch: Nashville’s rising phoenix with a PR problem”, 37013 has more apartments (147) and more Section 8’s than any other zip code in the city. Plus, we have the County Jail and Metro Animal Control. We are pulling our weight in the City of Nashville with these types of developments.
Q6) There is an ongoing discussion about the funding of our zoned public schools and the amount being allocated to Charter schools. Every child deserves the best education we can provide whether in a zoned school or a public charter school. What is your stance on supporting our schools and your thoughts on the issue of Charter versus schools of zone?
ANSWER #6 The Council has a limited role in education. We do vote on the budget, both operating and capital expenses that help fund the operation of schools. We vote on using County monies to build new schools. Our public schools are over-crowded, and it’s a major challenge for the city. We have to build more schools in Davidson County very soon to accommodate the growth of the population. The Council will make some major decisions about building new schools, such as… where to build, supporting infrastructure, etc... This means Zoning and for that I will always go back to my SIMPLE ZONING RULE found in Q#5. I do have some concerns about Charter schools. Of course, not all Charter school are bad. The current school board has a fear that anyone could hang a shingle on a wall and call themselves a Charter school. Then, these schools would get tax payer funded dollars and take resources away from the public school that are already established. We would need to be sure charter schools are being held accountable. I tend to trust the dully elected school board members and defer to these types decisions.
Q7) A community is stronger and safer when citizens take an active role. What will you do as a Council member to increase overall community engagement and participation? How will you help to integrate newcomers to our community?
ANSWER #7 I will use all the usual means of media communications… such as the dedicated D33 Facebook page and postings, a D33 website, direct emails, direct postal service mailings, and regular community meetings in all four district precincts. I will reach out to the D33 HOA’s and meet with them when possible. I will create a resident advisory committee of voters from all four voting precincts. I will use a dedicated mobile phone and line for D33 constituents to use for Q&A’s that can be answered by a quick call or text. I call it the “Herndon Hotline” and the number is 615-393-1431. It’s active now. Let me use this question to talk about area litter / trash and what I will do to help keep D33 clean. Southeast Davidson Co is the most beautiful part of the county. We are blessed with natural resources like the lake, wooded areas, open spaces, parks and trails. I will lead to make D33 LITTER FREE! First, we need to use all the tools we have available. The Davidson County Sheriff's department and public works is a vital tool for picking up the large litter / trash items such as furniture, appliances and mattresses. For the smaller litter /trash item’s, there’s a simple approach that works. IF IT’S GONNA BE IT’S UP TO ME! If we can get a few loyal D33 folks to volunteer an hour on a Saturday morning for say once a quarter or even once every 6 months, we could become the cleanest part of Davidson County and that will benefit everyone! I would never ask anyone to volunteer to do anything that I wouldn't do myself. If we all do little bit, we can make a significant difference. We will reap the benefits!
Q8) Because D33 is so undeveloped there is an opportunity create destination identity (East Nashville = Artists). What is the identity you envision for District 33 and what types of business will you recruit to the community?
ANSWER #8 This is basically a zoning question and for that I will go back to my SIMPLE ZONING RULE found in question #5. I don’t want to give an impression that I’m against all development. I’m very pro-development if it’s the right kind. I personally like mixed use developments with smaller retail shops and restaurants mixed in with mostly brick/stone (if not all brick) single family middle class homes. Some examples where I like the look and feel of the community… Providence in Mt Juliet; Lenox Village in Nolensville and Carothers Crossings in Nolensville to name a few I like. We need to take full advantage of the lake and rustic beauty of D33. This can be our identity. However, I’m open to hear out a developer ideas and then bring the ideas to the voters for discussion. I WILL always do this.
Q9) Mayor Barry's transportation plan is high dollar and long term. We have major traffic issues NOW. What steps/changes will you seek to help alleviate the bottlenecks and severe traffic issues we are facing on a daily basis now?
ANSWER #9 I attended a D32 zoning meeting (Jacobia Dowell) a few weeks ago and saw the detailed infrastructure and traffic plans for the new IKEA store. I was impressed that the developer is making the infrastructure improvements before actually building the IKEA structure. It was also communicated from the meeting that the developer is paying most of the infrastructure cost. Here’s a perfect public / private partnership in zoning and development that will work well and everybody wins. This is the model we should employ throughout the city. The infrastructure should come first - the structures can then come second. Also, it seems reasonable to me that we will need some version of a mass transit system due to the growth of the city. We should consider asking the out of County commuters who work in Davidson Co and live in a surrounding county to help pay to the mass transit through a car sticker. These folks pay NO tax to use our roads and the council should explore it