Why I Reconsidered My Decision and Am Now Asking for Your Vote

Thank you for your votes and encouragement to advance me into the runoff election!  I am grateful to gain the endorsement and support by the general election candidate Rob McKinney for the runoff election.

McKinney Tweet

One of the frequently asked questions during my campaign for the general election was, why did you reconsider and decide to run.  One might ask why did you flip-flop?  That is a fair question, it is human nature to be curious.  At various events I have answered that question, but apparently word has not spread.  In fact, someone will still say “I thought you were not running.”  The day I announced I would not seek re-election must have been a slow news day; the Tennessean ran my announcement on page 3 under Governor Bill Lee.  Unfortunately, the day my press release went out announcing I had re-considered and would now seek re-election did not even make print news at all. 

I made an announcement in January 2019 in order to provide plenty of time for the candidates to prepare for the general election. My decision at that time was purely based on a personal reason.  My husband accepted a job in Atlanta, Georgia a couple of years ago.  We had hoped his work would eventually bring him back to Nashville full time, but that had not yet happened.  I was traveling to Atlanta on weekends when I did not have Council business.  I thought it would have been nice not to drive four hours each way and be able to spend more time with my husband after my first term was completed.

After the announcement was made, it caused quite a concern for many of my constituents, colleagues and several department heads in Metro.  I received many e-mails and telephone calls urging me to reconsider.  There is not one specific issue that drove me to reconsider.  Instead, it was the continual presence of my constituents with concerns that projects I have been championing, but not quite completed, may be dropped or forgotten.   Plus, issues where I have been a strong advocate, like transparency and accountability in government, protecting environment and preserving open and natural space, may not be a top priority without my leadership. 

Another factor in my reconsideration decision, was that Nashville is at a crossroads.  This election is not just about which candidate wins; it’s about which candidate will make sure Nashville takes the right path.  

Nashville is booming with development.  Each day as I am out and about driving into Nashville, it is impossible not to see all the cranes in the downtown skyline. We are told that about 100 people a day are moving to Nashville and the surrounding area.  Last year 15.2 million tourists visited Nashville.  Nashville’s finances should be in good shape; but they aren’t as we would like them to be.  When I looked at last year’s budget shortfall, the growth in our expenses continued to outweigh our revenue.  Last fiscal year one dollar out of every $10 of government funds went to pay off debt.   Just a few short weeks ago the Metro Council was required by Charter to approve a budget for FY2020.  The Mayor’s proposed budget contained a shortfall, and the Metro Council Budget and Finance Committee Chair’s proposed budget contained a 15.8% property tax increase.  Neither budget was good for Nashville. 

Over the last four years, there have been some strong voices in the Council.  One strong voice that I share common views with is At Large Councilman and runoff mayoral candidate John Cooper.  When he announced he had decided to run for mayor, it really made me think deep and hard.  If he is elected, it would be great to be back on the Council and work with him to really get some things done.  We are both strong advocates for neighborhoods, and his focus has been on taking care of neighborhoods.  Another thought was if he is not elected, who will be there to be the strong voice for neighborhoods and fiscal responsibility.  I was unable to walk away realizing I could be that strong voice.   So, I could say another big factor that made me decide to reconsider seeking re-election was John Cooper entering the mayoral race.  I am happy to share that John has endorsed me and supports my re-election campaign.

Cooper endorsement

John Cooper says "She is the most qualified,

informed and prepared council member."

Four years ago, when I decided to run for office, my number one priority was to preserve and protect our wonderful neighborhoods in District 23.  Soon after moving to West Meade almost 20 years ago, I began my ‘volunteer’ neighborhood advocacy work.  I never imagined being a Council member during my community advocacy work. I ran for office, encouraged by former Council member Emily Evans, when her term was up.  Also, many neighborhood leaders involved in community advocacy work during the past 20 years urged me to run.  My friends and fellow community activists have been on my campaign team since the last election.  I am so proud and grateful that I don’t have any paid staff on my campaign team.

My top priorities today are the same as they were in 2015 – preserve and protect our wonderful residential neighborhoods, keep Hillwood High School property for the best use for our community, and install transparency and accountability in Metro Government.

In my first term, I was able to cancel an outdated development plan and also preserve over 200 acres of land as natural and open space by passing BL2016-86, BL2016-87, BL2017-674 and BL2017-675.  On all my other rezoning bills, I averaged eight community meetings prior to any development plan and zone change requests were finalized.  Some plans were withdrawn before consideration by the Metro Planning Commission due to lack of community support.

Although MNPS is the ultimate decision maker for the future use of the Hillwood High School property,  I have been working with MNPS and the administration to ensure the property is retained for the best use for our community.  Click Here to see my blog post on Hillwood High School Property. 

Transparency and accountability were common goals among many fellow Council members during my first term.  At-large Council member Bob Mendes led the effort to reforming TIF (Tax Increment Financing) structure.  BL2016-157 requires MDHA to submit a detailed annual report to the Council, requires tax revenue to come back to Metro once the TIF loan is paid; and allows Metro to retain the portion of tax revenue for debt service funds for new TIF loans.  BL2019-1613 amended the annual TIF report requirement.  BL2019-1644 updated an implementation of the annual TIF report. BL2019-1630, currently under consideration, will increase the property tax revenue retained by Metro that is used to pay for TIF loans.  I was a co-sponsor on each of these bills.  We have made much progress, but our work is not yet finished.  These issues are not simple; they are complicated. 

I have dedicated my time and energy to represent our District.  I have gained significant experience and institutional knowledge during my first term.  I am the right person to continue to mandate more transparency and accountability for Metro.  I am committed to continue to serve our District and Nashville.

I hope you will give me the privilege to once again represent you for the next four years by voting for me in the upcoming runoff election.  Early voting begins on August 23 through September 7.  The runoff Election Day is September 12. VOTE Mina For Council, https://www.minaforcouncil.com  

 

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Runoff Voting Information for District 23

Below is an overview of the Metro Council runoff election schedule for District 23.  

 

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Click here to download the PDF. (Note, the links are live in the PDF version.)


How the West Nashville Community Plan Will Help Save the Hillwood High School Property

Over the past decade, I have been actively involved in the development and enforcement of the West Nashville Community Plan, which represents a community policy outline for development in West Nashville, including District 23.  Following the principles and policies contained in the West Nashville Community Plan is the best strategy to save the Hillwood High School Property.    

Hillwood High School opened in 1959; over the 60 year-span there have been about ten additions to the school.  The Bellevue community lobbied hard for a high school of their own, urging that Hillwood High School move to Bellevue. After public hearings before the Metro School Board where Hillwood and West Meade neighbors spoke passionately to keep the high school on Davidson Road, the School Board in January 2017 approved the move out of the Hillwood/West Meade area to Bellevue.  The site of the new school is the old Hope Park Church site (244 acres) located at 8001 Highway 70 south in Bellevue. The original estimate for the move was $90 million, but with a land purchase price of $10.2 million, estimates now top $100 million.

For the residents of Hillwood and West Meade, there is much concern about what happens to the school property once Hillwood High School closes.  Currently, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and School Board members do not have a specific plan for the property. However, over the last few years I have been working with the community, MNPS and the administration to keep the property for the best use for the community.  I have obtained a commitment from MNPS leaders and Metro administration that the community will play a key role in deciding the best use of the property. I am committed to making sure that MNPS and the administration follow through on their word when the high school closes.

Additionally, in 2009 the West Nashville community began the process to update the West Nashville Community Plan.  Having extensive knowledge of the Community Character Manual and community plans, I attended every meeting and provided input based on my knowledge of District 23.  

A community plan is the key planning policy guide for decision-making regarding a community’s future.  To achieve this, the West Nashville Community Plan applies the Community Character Manual Policies to every property in West Nashville.  The Community Character Manual Policies are designed to coordinate the elements of development to ensure the intended character of an area is achieved.  These policies are the standard by which development and future zone change requests are measured. Each area is first designated as a Transect – Suburban Transect, Urban Transect, Rural Transect, Center Transect, Downtown Transect or District Transect.

Anticipating the possibility that Hillwood High School would close, we made sure the West Nashville Community Plan specifically addressed Hillwood High School as an area that needed additional guidance as a Supplemental Policy.  Hillwood High School is referenced as SPA 07-T3-C1-01. What that means is it is a Supplemental Policy Area in a suburban transect (T3) designated as West Nashville Civic (C1) Area 1. The West Nashville Community Plan expressly states:

It is the consensus of the community that this SPA remain dedicated to a public use and owned by the Metropolitan Government (Metro). Were the use as Hillwood High School to cease in whole or in part, all steps should be taken to ensure continued use of the land as a school. The preference is for an elementary school to serve the shifting demographic of the Hillwood and West Meade communities. However, other levels of education should be considered provided it meets the community’s need for an academically focused institution. 

In the event neither MNPS nor its partners wishes to occupy all of the property, partial use of the property for a school should be considered.

All steps should be taken to ensure the remainder of the property can be considered for park and community use subject to review by the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation (MBPR). Consideration should be given for the way in which the property could benefit and complement the neighboring H.G. Hill Middle School use. Special care should be taken to ensure a park or community use is not overly burdensome to the surrounding neighborhood. 

Finally, if neither MNPS, its partners, nor the MBPR wishes to use the Hillwood High School property in whole or in part, Metro should properly secure the buildings and hold them in reserve until such time as it is desired and possible to use as a school and/or a park and community center. Outdoor recreational areas and open space should be properly maintained and accessible to the community for its use. Demolition of the buildings, except in the case of renovation and improvement, is not desired. Sale of the property by Metro is strenuously discouraged.

 

As another safeguard, I have requested to re-purpose the Hillwood High School building and athletic field for use as a park, library or community center in case MNPS decides not to utilize it for a school purpose.  The re-purpose request was recorded in the Capital Improvement Budget under CIB request 19DS0140; it will stay in CIB unless removed by the next Council. Please see my May 4, 2019 newsletter https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/TNNASH/bulletins/2417f1a?fbclid=IwAR3ExTM-a8V7I-LcFY2vRw1yAeFiQzEqjQppgHOtKyyOwvugWWU4zd-rEWA.

Therefore, with the assurance from MNPS and the administration, along with the Special Policy provision in the West Nashville Community Plan and my re-purpose CIB request, I am committed to continue making sure that the Hillwood High School property be retained for the best use for the community - a school and/or park and community center with outdoor recreational areas and open space accessible for community use.  

In order for me to keep my commitment, I need your support and your vote to re-elect me in the upcoming runoff election.  Early voting begins on August 23 through September 7. The runoff Election Day is September 12. VOTE Mina For Council, https://www.minaforcouncil.com  

 



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