Preservation of Natural Resources, Open Space and Historical Structures – While many areas of Nashville are inundated with unchecked development, most residents across District 23 enjoy quiet neighborhoods filled with an abundance of mature trees and variety of wildlife. The conservation of our natural treasures is no accident. Instead, it is a result of our community working together to create a Natural Conservation Policy and development guidelines, which were later incorporated into Community Plans throughout Davidson County. I have been deeply involved in the planning and policy making for more than a decade. I commit to continue my hard work across our district and our city - preserving our Natural Resources, Open Space and Historical Structures, while enhancing it where possible.
Smart and Well Balanced Development – Many residents of District 23 chose this unique community in order to enjoy the natural beauty and minimal commercial intrusion it offers, as the majority of our district consists of residential areas. By design, the neighborhoods that make up our district offer suburban characteristics in the development patterns and land use. In 2009, the West Nashville Community Plan was updated, and two areas were designated to allow for slightly higher density in future development. We must strike a delicate balance to retain the characteristics of our established neighborhoods, while allowing for new development as appropriate, including addressing traffic concerns and adding sidewalks. During my term, I will draw from past experience to seek the most well-balanced development solutions that encourage retaining what we all love, with an eye to the future needs of our neighborhoods.
Education and Public School System – There is much to talk about in regards to all that is happening within Metro Nashville Public Schools across Nashville, and within our own district. Here in the midst of district 23, the future of the Hillwood High School site hangs in the balance. I support the existing community plan for this site, and will work to keep it in place as MNPS moves forward with decisions surrounding the high school and its location. I look forward to engaging with parents, teachers, the school board and residents of our community regarding the continued growth and improvement of other public schools across our district and city. Funding our schools is an important component of the budgetary process, and I will be a steward of our students as well as our tax dollars. As your next Council representative, I will support strong public schools that offer a quality education to all of the children of Nashville. I will ensure that any decisions affecting schools in our district will be made only after hearing from my constituents.
Guardian of your tax dollars – Keeping a city as vibrant as ours running smoothly on a day-to-day basis is a costly endeavor - one that requires much planning, and often a fair measure of compromise. As we look at the past several years, the growth in our expenses outweighs the growth in our revenue. There is no reason to expect this trend will not continue. The budgeting process for 2016 is already underway, and every early indication points to tough decisions ahead - limited funding improvements and a continued need to reduce spending. We can all agree that our government must find areas to tighten the belt without sacrificing the services on which we all depend. As your next Council representative, I will work hard to ensure we spend your tax dollars wisely and fund a fair and balanced budget.
Affordability – In recent years, Nashville's "it" city status has spurred much residential development. These changes in our neighborhoods have provided an opening to an important discussion across the city - what are the unintended consequences of the current development boom? Increased cost of living and displacement of longtime residents in redeveloped neighborhoods are two of the most talked about. These are issues with no easy answers, but as your next Council representative, I will continue listening and keep exploring the options of how best to meet the demands of our growth and acclaim, while meeting the needs of our longtime residents.
Transparency and efficient communication - Open communication is the gateway to collaboration and input. It is a key component of democracy, and one we must protect and promote. I have seen how this can make an impact on our own city government and processes. When I first became involved in planning and zoning issues within my neighborhood, a common theme was pervasive: lack of communication. I attended countless public hearings at Metro Planning Commission or Metro Council where the chorus was, "I just heard about this development two weeks ago!" When I learned this was due to the structure of MPC's notification rules, I set out to change them. At my request, during MPC's 2009 Rules and Procedures update, the "Development Tracker" website was created, whereby anyone can view development proposals eight weeks prior to a public hearing date. Previously, only the immediate surrounding neighbors were notified by letter, and only two weeks before the hearing. As your next Council representative, I will continue demanding transparency in our government. My door will be open to receive constituent concerns, and I will also provide information on any countywide or neighborhood changes as soon as I am aware of them.
Transit, Infrastructure and Complete Streets – With Nashville's growth, also comes responsibility. We must continue to focus upon our needs in the areas of transportation and infrastructure. I have been honored and proud to serve as a member of the Mayors Citizens Advisory Committee, tasked with providing thoughtful feedback to the Mayor and Metro Transit Authority engineers on the routes and design of MTA's transit options. While the AMP (Bus Rapid Transit East-West Connector) has been the focus of transit discussions in recent years, the committee's work resulted in putting the brake on the plan as presented and elevating conversation instead to a much needed strategic plan throughout Nashville and the Middle Tennessee region. It is also widely recognized that we must consider the need for sidewalks, safe bikeways, and address our water/sewage system. There are no easy fixes for the infrastructure challenges Nashville is facing, but as your next Council representative, I will carry on the conversation and promote solutions on how best to address our current and future needs.
Safe Neighborhoods - The residents of District 23 enjoy living in an area of one of our city's lowest crime rates. There are still problems and/or concerns we wish to tackle together. We have seen an increased usage of neighborhood listservs and Facebook pages in recent years, slowly replacing the idea of a traditional Neighborhood Watch effort, but the idea of keeping watch for one another and building our community remains unchanged. As our city grows and changes, so does District 23. Safety is a number one priority, as our once quiet neighborhood streets become cut through routes as traffic volume increases, and safety becomes a serious concern. As your next Council representative, I look forward to working together to keep our community safe.