NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Newschannel 5 submitted questions to the leading candidates to be Metro Nashville's next mayor. Here's what Mayor David Briley had to say about the issues facing Music City voters when they make their choice August 1, 2019.
How will your administration view the issue of affordable housing in Nashville? What steps would your administration take to improve affordability for more residents?
Mayor David Briley: This spring I announced Under One Roof 2029, Nashville’s biggest-ever investment in affordable housing. Through Under One Roof, we will invest $500 million in affordable housing over the next ten years and call upon the private sector to contribute another $250 million. This commitment will provide homes to thousands of families and make it possible to deconcentrate poverty and help more Nashvillians to stay in Nashville.
2018’s transit referendum lost in a landslide. Will your administration make any attempt to revive a comprehensive transit plan?
Mayor David Briley: I want to take action and build something that can be a model for successful transit alternatives. That’s why we’re working with federal, state and local leaders to develop better transit systems for corridors like Dickerson Road. That’s a place where we can build a transit system before the area is overwhelmed by development.
In last year’s capital spending plan, we allocated $85 million towards streets, paving, sidewalks, greenways, traffic calming, traffic management and transit. The traffic calming projects are in progress in eight key areas around Nashville to ease congestion and make our roads safer.
In addition, my office is constantly searching for federal grants to help fund a local transit system, and I’m in constant conversation with the surrounding county leaders and the Greater Nashville Regional Council to find new and alternative ways to develop mass transit.
Downtown and downtown-adjacent neighborhoods have seen a boom in development, revenue, and property values over the last decade. What can your administration do to make sure that other neighborhoods – Antioch, Bordeaux, Hermitage and Donelson – aren’t left behind?
Mayor David Briley: My main goal as mayor is to spread Nashville’s prosperity to every Nashvillian. As downtown continues its boom, every Davidson County resident should benefit in some way. A big part of that will be making sure that we are continuing to invest in these neighborhoods using the revenue generated in our urban core.
Last fall, for instance, we submitted a $351 million capital spending plan that includes money for a new park in Antioch and a new library in Donelson. Our new budget includes $3.5 million for our Bordeaux Nursing Home.
The problem of youth violence has plagued the city over the past few years. How will your administration address that problem?
Mayor David Briley: I want to start with some background: In 2018, 558 youth in Nashville were charged with serious crimes, such as a car theft, robbery or worse – down slightly from 573 in 2017. Of those 558, 83 youth were 15-years-old and under. This is down from 102 in 2017, but it’s still too many. Robberies and assaults are down this year, but we’ve seen an increase in handgun possession and vehicle theft, with 200 youth charged with this crime in 2018.
Tennessee laws allow gun owners to keep loaded handguns, shotguns and rifles in their cars, even if they do not have a handgun carry permit. We are seeing more and more guns in the hands of our youth, because residents are not required by law to lock their cars when guns are inside. Since the beginning of this year alone, more than 230 guns have been stolen from mostly unlocked cars in our city.
Figuring out why youths commit these crimes is nuanced. We know that when a young person is exposed to violence as a victim or witness, that young person is likely to become an offender. So for example, by supporting parents, foster parents, and other legal guardians to reduce instances of child abuse and neglect and adult intimate partner violence, we can dramatically decrease the instances of youth violence in our city. We must continue to create protective community environments for our young people, and intervene when there is a perceived harm so that we prevent future risks.
Juvenile court Judge Sheila Calloway has made great strides on this front as well. Since taking office in 2014, she has been able to increase the number of youth diverted from the formal juvenile justice system by 75%. This means our children are receiving holistic support and intervention they need, while at the same time taking accountability for their actions before committing a serious crime. Of those, only 8% were subsequently convicted of a delinquent offense thanks to diversion and prevention work.
I have also convened a group that includes Judge Calloway, Dr. Wendy Long who heads our health department, Juvenile Court Clerk Lonnell Matthews and my own policy and communications teams to ensure that Nashville is working to prevent youth violence, promoting youth health, and providing our children with opportunities to succeed.
What role do you intend to play when it comes to the Metro School Board and its search for a new Schools Director? What role should the mayor play when it comes to Nashville’s public schools?
Mayor David Briley: I intend to play a much bigger role in our public school system. I am working with Dr. Battle to form an MOU (memorandum of understanding) between MNPS and the city that will lay the foundation for a new relationship that involves higher Metro involvement in operations and HR. Outside of the MOU, I want to work towards building community support for a programmatic change in our school system, and I want to help grow confidence in our school board.
I hope that Dr. Battle is successful in her current role and remains the Director into the future.
By the time our next mayor submits their first budget it will have been eight years since property taxes were last increased in Nashville. Do you intend to raise taxes when in office to close gaps in the budget?
Mayor David Briley: I have no plans to increase property taxes. I’m confident we will continue to see revenue growth in our budget by making smart decisions and maintaining a bustling economy. That said, every year, we need to look carefully at our budget before making any decision to raise or not raise taxes.
The landfill currently used to dispose of Metro’s solid waste will likely be full before the next mayor’s first term ends. How will your administration deal with Nashville’s trash?
Mayor David Briley: Our first approach should be to divert waste from landfills. This year, we announced that, through grant funding, we’ll be increasing our curbside recycling pickup from once per month to every other week. This will affect more than 139,000 homes in Nashville, and the partnership will also include a promotion and education component to support the new recycling program.
I have also partnered with the Nashville Food Waste Initiative to issue a Food Saver Challenge to local restaurants, and more than 50 of Nashville’s eateries have joined the cause. This challenge will not only divert waste from Middle Tennessee’s landfills, but it will also donate food to those in need in our city.
Did you support the creation of the Community Oversight Board? How will your administration work with the board to investigate police misconduct?
Mayor David Briley: I fully support our Community Oversight Board, and my administration has already worked on making the COB successful. I nominated Bob Cooper and Phyllis Hildreth to serve on the board, and they were confirmed by Metro Council. Earlier this year, I testified before our state legislature to prevent them from infringing on the COB’s ability to operate. Since their formation, I have had regular meetings with the board and with William Weeden as we work towards a healthy relationship between the board and our community.
Are scooter-sharing apps enhancing or hindering the downtown experience for visitors and residents? Will your administration move to get rid of them?
Based on what I have witnessed firsthand, the recent influx of scooters in our city has been a hazard in more ways than one. Riders aren't exercising caution, and the scooters are littering our sidewalks, making them impassable in some areas. This is particularly concerning for people who are in wheelchairs or who are not able to get around obstacles on the sidewalk. Our council has attempted to impose regulations on our scooter companies and riders, but the regulations are violated on a regular basis. We originally let the scooter companies come here as an experiment, and the current experiment has failed. Almost two weeks ago, I sent a letter to each of the seven scooter companies in Nashville declaring that if these concerns are not addressed within a 30-day window, I will file legislation to ban scooters in Nashville.
David Briley won last year's special election last year following the ouster of former Mayor Megan Barry. He has previously served on Metro Council and as Vice Mayor. He is the grandson of Beverly Briley, the first mayor of consolidated Metropolitan government. You can learn more about Mayor Briley's campaign on his website.
There are ten candidates running for Mayor in the August 1, 2019 election. To be featured in our Meet the Candidate series we focused on candidates who met at least one of the following criteria:
- Have raised at least $100,000 as reported in filings with the Davidson County Election Commission; or
- Currently hold a Metro, state or federal elected office.