By Peter White
NASHVILLE, TN — Without asking her, Brandon Taylor, 36, volunteered his wife to be the Beautification Commissioner for District 21. Everybody else he listens to. That’s why it took so long for Taylor to decide to run against Councilman Ed Kindall.
“I’ve talked to several thousand people on the phone or door to door,” Taylor said. “I have a campaign manager who helps me as well and I have people who volunteer—friends, neighbors, family, whoever I can get who knows my message.”
Taylor worked for the Nashville Rescue Mission and the Middle Tennessee Boy Scout council. He has raised funds for nonprofit organizations for 15 years. His wife is a health policy analyst. They live in a two-story home they built on an empty lot in the Elizabeth Park neighborhood of North Nashville.
Every Saturday Taylor walks his block on 14th Avenue N. picking up trash. “That’s me walking up and down the street picking up trash, in the storm drains, whatever. I am going to do my part,” Taylor said. If elected, Taylor said he will address illegal dumping in District 21.
“About February I made a decision to run because I felt like that would just mean me doing more of my part to make my community better and making North Nashville a much stronger community.”
Taylor’s first priority is capital improvements and infrastructure investment.
“Mr. Kindall didn’t submit a request this year. He may say it’s a wish list but that’s where you have to start,” he said.
“Secondly, I want to look decreasing crime and having more transparency with our police officers and build a better relationship between our community and the police.”
Taylor started organizing bike rides in North Nashville with police officers about a year ago. Walk Bike Nashville hosts an Open Streets Nashville event somewhere in Nashville every year. At Taylor’s request, they decided to hold it in North Nashville on Sunday, July 28, 2019. The event is from 3-7pm. Open Streets Nashville is a program that temporarily closes the streets to cars to allow people to reconnect to their communities, get active, and play in the street.
Taylor got involved with public safety issues after a triple murder in January 2018. His neighbor’s car was shot up with dozens of bullets. She was inside the house with her newborn baby.
“At that moment that’s when we had to do something. There was no choice to not be engaged,” he said.
Taylor noted the lack of trust between MNPD and the people in his district. He supports the Community Oversight Board because he thinks it will improve transparency.
Taylor lauded the work of Gideon’s Army, the group that published the Driving While Black report in March, 2017. He noted that the 37208 zip code in District 21 has the highest incarceration rate in the county. He wants to get organizations like Dismas House to help with the recidivism conversation and training and also Youth Development with places like the McGruder Center.
“There’s other ways around decreasing crime other than the police policing,” he said.
About jobs, Taylor said that when businesses come to Nashville there have to be opportunities for people in North Nashville to get them. About housing, Taylor said Nashville’s growth needs to be balanced.
“We know that new houses are going to come in and the people in our neighborhoods can’t afford the ones that are for sale. We know that people are going to sell their homes and developers are going to try buy them and build something there,” he said.
Taylor thinks people in the neighborhoods should decide what’s best for them but he want to preserve single family homes and the rental properties that are already developed so the people who live in District 21 will be able to continue to live there.
He’s not a big fan of zoning overlays unless the people want them. He said people on College Hill are mostly home-owners who are quite aware of zoning and what changes will mean for their properties. Renters in other neighborhoods maybe not so much.
“I want to keep the people in the community so they’re still able to afford their homes,” he said.
Last year Taylor invited Councilman Ed Kindall to come and visit with the Elizabeth Park neighbors’ group. They wanted to ask Kindall if he was planning to run and if so what he would do differently this time than what he did last time. He didn’t come.
“And so from there we felt that to have a voice you have to be engaged and involved but we weren’t getting any answers from our current council member,” Taylor said.
One thing led to another and Taylor talked to his wife and now he is on the ballot. The election is August 1.