Preservation of Natural Resources, Open Space and Historical Structures – 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. With Nashville growing at a rapid pace, preservation of natural resources, open spaces, and historical structures are more important than ever. While many areas of Nashville are inundated with unchecked development, most residents across District 23 are still enjoying quiet neighborhoods filled with an abundance of mature trees and a 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.
Smart and Well-Balanced Development – When re-elected I will continue to draw from past experience in seeking the most well-balanced development solutions that encourage retaining what we all love, with an eye to the future needs of our neighborhoods. 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.
Transparency and Accountability – As your Council representative, I pledge to be open, honest and accountable for my actions. I will continue to mandate better transparency and accountability within Metro Government. Decisions and actions must be open to public scrutiny. Honesty with facts and figures to justify actions and decisions must be available to the public. I am not afraid to ask the tough questions and work with other Council members to mandate more transparency for certain Metro areas that have been or at least given an appearance of, operating under an opaque system. Metro is here to serve our residents, our constituents. You elect representatives to speak on your behalf. A cornerstone of our democracy is that the government must always be accountable to the people. To be accountable, we need transparency. Transparency is defined as openness, accountability, and honesty. Government officials (both elected and non-elected) must be held accountable for their actions and decisions.
Education and Public School System – Funding our schools is an important component of the budgetary process, and I will be a steward for our students as well as our tax dollars. As your Council representative, I will continue to support strong public schools that offer quality education to all of the children of Nashville. 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 District 23, the plan to move the existing Hillwood high school to Bellevue is underway. However, currently, there is no specific plan for the property after the high school is vacated. I have been working the last few years with the community, MNPS and the administration to keep the Hillwood property for the best use for the community, as well as having the community play a key role in deciding the best use for the community. I would like to be sure that MNPS and the administration follow through with their end of commitment for community involvement before a final decision is made, once high school is vacated.
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 last year’s budget shortfall, the growth in our expenses continues to outweigh our revenue. There is no reason to expect this trend will not continue. Last fiscal year one dollar out of every $10 of government funds went to pay off debt. This year’s budget may exceed that figure. The budgeting process for 2020 is already underway, and the Mayor’s proposed budget indicates tough decisions ahead - limited funding improvements and a continued need to reduce spending. We cannot go back and change prior decisions that delayed debt payments, but at some point, we need to find dedicated funding for many programs. We can all agree that our government must find areas to tighten the belt without sacrificing the services on which we all depend. When re-elected I will continue to work hard to ensure we spend your tax dollars wisely and fund a fair and balanced budget.
Affordability – Over the last four years, Nashville's "it" city status has spurred much residential development. Now is the time to have 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 when re-elected, I will continue listening and will keep exploring the options of how best to meet the demands of our growth and acclaim, while meeting the needs of our longtime residents.
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. When re-elected, I will continue demanding efficient communication in our government. I will continue to provide information through my Facebook page and newsletter on countywide or neighborhood changes as soon as I am aware of them. As always, I am just a phone call and an e-mail away to hear your concerns.
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. We need better transit solutions. Although previous costly plans – the AMP and last year’s transit referendum – have failed, the need for better transit remains. We must get involved in the discussion to find better solutions. If more people are involved in early discussions, we can find a unified vision for our future. It is also widely recognized that we need more sidewalks, safe bikeways, and we need to address our water/sewage system. There are no easy fixes for the infrastructure challenges Nashville is facing. However, when re-elected, I will continue to carry on the conversation and promote smart 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 that we must tackle together. We have seen 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. When re-elected, I will continue to work together to keep our community safe.