By John Cooper
People may move here for the city, but they’ll stay for the neighborhoods.
I am honored to be endorsed by the political committee affiliated with the Coalition of Nashville Neighborhoods: the Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund.
My job as your mayor will be to ensure that everyone benefits from our city’s growth. Nashville needs to remain a great place to live, not just a great city to visit. It’s time to put our focus back on our neighborhoods. Let’s create a city that works for everyone.
Neighborhoods are a cornerstone of each of my policy discussion pieces. Here are some highlights on each topic relating to focusing on neighborhoods.
Affordable Housing: Before we can talk about neighborhoods, we must deal with housing. We’ve created a lot of growth but the growth has increased rents and priced people out of their neighborhoods. Metro needs to make affordable housing central to every incentive that it gives. As your mayor, I will facilitate the creation of a real ten-year plan to preserve and create a meaningful number of affordable housing units at an appropriate price with measurable results.
Education: I am running for Mayor to ensure that all of Nashville’s residents and neighborhoods are able to benefit from our city’s growth. All students from all neighborhoods need to have access to high-quality educational experiences. I will be especially focused on reducing equity gaps in student outcomes. Spending on schools makes up about 45% of the budget of most large cities; Nashville has devoted under 40% of our budget to schools in the last two years. As mayor, I will prioritize investments in human capital through education. As mayor, I will commit to directing over half of new revenue into our school system. I will expect that our schools get great results for all kids and will celebrate the achievements of those that do.
Fiscal Accountability: Finance is the foundation of everything a city does. Sound fiscal management will allow us to get beyond this moment of financial stress. Better management of taxpayer money will free up resources for priorities like education and infrastructure. I’ve consistently favored the good management approach over a sizable property tax increase. Only a mayor can turn the page and usher in an era of good management. As mayor, I will put taxpayers first in negotiations. I will end the giveaway culture that is more focused on enriching a small elite than serving our entire city.
Parks and Green Spaces: Parks positively inform the character of our neighborhoods, and provide the opportunity for all to gather in shared public space. I have always prioritized green space in my real estate development work because I know how critical it is for community health and future generations. As a council member, I am proud of my record of supporting access to green space and preserving Nashville’s unique assets when City Hall tried to sell or give them away. As mayor, I will set clear goals for expanding park access, identify new ways to support expansion and programming, and put parks at the center of the city’s health and wellness efforts.
Police and Public Safety: Trust between police and the people they protect and serve is key to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our justice system, and the effectiveness of our police department. We need to fully staff the police department — and our E-911 call center — and embrace a shift to community policing. As your mayor, I will set clear goals, provide the resources necessary to realize those goals, and hold people accountable for results.
Transportation: Nashville can’t wait another five years for solutions to our traffic and transportation problems. As mayor, I am committed to developing a people-first transportation plan that is focused on helping you get to where you work and where you live in a timely, safe, and cost-effective manner. I want to lessen the time you spend in traffic through smart solutions, connect neighborhoods through bus system improvements, and invest in infrastructure like sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety. I will present a fiscally-responsible plan within my first year in office.
Economic and Community Development: The last chapter of Nashville’s economic development story was focused on downtown development and tourism. It is time to turn the page to a new chapter of economic and community development, where we emphasize growing human capital and focusing on the neglected neighborhoods of Davidson County. As your mayor, I will make sure that the Mayor’s Office of Economic & Community Development emphasizes that community development mission, and not just growth at any cost.
Infrastructure: Neighborhoods need high quality infrastructure in the form of sewer and stormwater systems, roads, sidewalks and intersections. That requires targeted investments in neighborhoods that haven’t seen meaningful investment in generations. An area like Bordeaux is going to keep growing, but the quality and community impact of that growth will depend on the quality of the underlying infrastructure. A neighborhood like the Nations is already well into its boom, but lagging stormwater and sidewalk infrastructure are limiting the area. Our neighborhoods need infrastructure investment.
Restoring Trust: All of the above thoughts and policies will require a foundation of trust. We must rebuild and restore public trust to ensure we are able to carry out these plans that support our neighborhoods.
I encourage you to read my full policy statements for any topics that interest you so you can get a sense of my priorities and how I think. The first question I will ask as mayor on any issue will be “how does this affect residents?”
I want to hear from you. What improvements would you like to see in your neighborhood? How can we make Nashville a better place for you and your family? With your help and support, we can make Nashville a city that truly works for everyone.