By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — At Large Councilman Jim Shulman wants to be vice mayor to focus metro council members on issues that should be resolved, he said, emphasizing protection of city residents.
Shulman points to his legislative work to put Meharry General Hospital “in a position to be financially stable.” When hospital leaders sought more funding, he provided an amendment to an ordinance to do so.
“There were several amendments,” he said, “but mine was the one that was adopted” to get more money for the hospital. “A safety-net hospital is important. We need to figure out better ways to help them so we don’t have to worry about them every year.”
While he’s a “big transit supporter,” Shulman “did not vote for the referendum because I heard so many concerns that this plan would not address.”
People want better transit, but the referendum failed.
“We should … come up with … a more detailed regional plan. A lot of our traffic backs up because of the interstate with people coming in from other places.”
Meanwhile, he’s concerned about “over development” and “neighborhood protection,” Shulman said.
Maintaining quality of life, infrastructure and reducing traffic congestion are goals he discovered when questioning council members. “We had a retreat,” he said. “I led part of the retreat. I gave them … index cards.” He asked them to state what the council would be remembered for if the term ended today?
“We can all talk about problems for a long time,” Shulman said. “I want to focus on them and solve them with action.”
Shulman wants to shelter homeless people when frigid weather threatens lives. His solution: use city buildings where homeless people may go for shelter.
“Metro should be willing to step up and do that,” Shulman said.
What building to open and how it’s done are being explored by Metro’s Homeless Commission, leaders of organizations such as Open Table, and other people, he said.
Asked what could be done to keep council meetings from continuing until 2 a.m. as it did Aug. 7, Shulman replied, “There are ways to be more efficient and remain effective in council meetings.” He’s explored ideas like calling a recess and resuming business another day. Another idea: forgo reading aloud descriptions of proposed ordinances if they’re on a consent agenda, and then voting once to make those many decisions.
Redevelopment of state fairgrounds and facilities is problematic. One part is Fort Negley, a Civil War remnant built by slaves.
“I was against the development proposed by Mayor Barry and I’m pleased with what Mayor Briley has done to make it green space,” Shulman said. “When we had discussions last year, the amount of people and the diverse crowds that wanted this were those who thought it was a good idea.
“In terms of stadium construction, it’s not a bad idea,” financially, he said. “Everybody needs to sit down, talk and make sure it all works … with enough parking.”
He wants improvements to the flea market and speedway.
“I went to the speedway,” he said. “I saw people having a good time. I’m for the speedway. You can actually be for both.”
Shulman also supports having a referendum on whether the Police Department should be subject to a community oversight board.
“I signed the petition for the community oversight board,” Shulman said. The question is headed for the city’s ballot in November.
Election Day for the race between Shulman and Acting Vice Mayor Sheri Weiner is Sept. 6. Early voting ends Sept. 1. Weiner succeeded David Briley when, as vice mayor, he became mayor.