By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — Equity, affordability and safety are Kyonzte Toombs’ platform for her campaign to be Metro’s next District 2 council member.
Toombs discussed her platform June 15 for a “Meet & Greet” at the Haynes Heights subdivision which faced one of the issues motivating her first bid for elected office.
Toombs is one of four people who filed petitions to be named on the county’s Aug. 1 ballot.
Asked why she wants to be a council member, Toombs explained she sees growth, gentrification and their effect on people who’ve always lived in District 2.
Given its “proximity to downtown,” she says, “it’s clear there’s a need for strong leadership … to advocate for the community … I don’t want to see what’s happened in other parts of Nashville happen here … You can have economic progress without … displacing residents.”
The “Nashville Next” 25-year plan to address growth and preserve residents’ preferences “should be revisited … to make sure we’re moving forward in a way the community wants,” said Toombs, suggesting land-use zoning rules like “historic overlays to protect our … communities…
“A lot of the money … generated from all this development … isn’t being used for neighborhoods,” Toombs continued.
When a development is started, “the first contact” is its district council member, Toombs said. “You can’t even put in an application for zoning until you’ve spoken with the council person,” she said, offering herself as someone who will defend residents. “You won’t be able to stop everything, but a lot of it you can, or at least have it in ways that benefit the community.
“There was an issue with the grease plant in District 2,” she said of Onsite Environmental’s move from Baptist World Center Drive to Whites Creek Pike; from one part of the district to an area behind Haynes Manor. “We didn’t have any council district representation for that discussion. However, the community was able to come together and get a community benefits agreement with the developer.
Toombs’ June 15 “Meet & Greet” is in the home of Winnie Forrester, communications coordinator for the Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition. It opposed the grease plant’s move.
“We had help from At Large Council Member Sharon Hurt,” Toombs said, “but our district council person should have been leading that discussion and helping the community get some type of benefit from the development. That should happen every time there’s a developer coming in…”
If there was no legal remedy, “which I disagree with,” Toombs said of a council law office analysis issued recently, “…there were opportunities to advocate on behalf of the community.”
Asked for experience qualifying her for a Metro Council seat, Toombs says she’s: a deputy general counsel for Tennessee’s health department; has worked there 10 years; and, as an attorney for regulatory boards, she analyzes legislation and provides advise to help find solutions. She’s helped draft bills that became law.
She’s a founding board member of Equity Alliance, a Nashville-based advocacy group working to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in civic life.
Originally from Hammond, La., Toombs attended Atlanta middle and high schools. In autumn 1997, she came here to attend Vanderbilt University where she earned her bachelor’s and law degrees.
From May 2008 to December 2009, she was in Atlanta to complete an MBA program at Emory University.
Toombs moved from Rutherford County in May 2016.
“I specifically wanted to live in the Bordeaux/North Nashville area,” Toombs said. “So, I bought a home in Chateau Valley.”
Her children are growing up in District 2, attending public schools. Her husband is a commercial truck driver.