Mayoral candidates respond to flood wall, police HQ, jail defeats
Not surprisingly, Nashville's mayoral candidates have started to weigh in on the Metro Council's rejection Tuesday of a trio of controversial projects pushed by Mayor Karl Dean.
In a blow to the current mayor, the council voted to yank funding for a $100 million downtown flood wall and protection system, a $113 million jail consolidation and a $23 million police headquarters
Bill Freeman and Jeremy Kane were the first two mayoral candidates to issue statements. The Tennessean will post other responses when we get them.
"Tonight, the people of Nashville raised their voices and demanded they be heard about the future of their neighborhoods.
I respect Karl Dean for raising these issues but the lack of public engagement resulted in the failure of all three projects before the Metro Council tonight.
If the voters give me the chance to go to work for them, I pledge that as Mayor my administration will be transparent and we will listen to the people of Nashville.
I believe by engaging the public in the planning and discussion we can find a location for the new police headquarters, we can protect downtown, as well as the other neighborhoods of Nashville from a 1,000-year flood and we can find the appropriate location for a new jail.
Tonight we saw yet again that the people of Nashville are committed to protecting their neighborhoods and their quality of life. As mayor, I look forward to leading these discussions and uniting our community."Jeremy Kane:
"Last night once again made clear that Nashvillians expect our leaders to be bold enough to offer innovative solutions but committed enough to listen to and collaborate with our neighborhoods. The hard work is still ahead -- three major projects were defeated and many more long-standing challenges remain. That's why it is critical the next mayor has the experience to practice real partnership, the humility to share information and ask for support, and a record of leadership to relentlessly advocate for all of our neighborhoods. I learned these values and gained this experience founding and growing a system of schools, that, in partnership with our communities and MNPS, changed the way we educate students. I look forward to bringing that same innovative, energetic, and humble approach to the mayor's office and can't wait to get started."Howard Gentry, through spokeswoman Carol Brown Andrews:
"Howard believes the Council made the right decisions on each of these issues because the communities were not consulted before the plans were in place. As mayor, Howard Gentry will bring people to the table to hear their ideas and concerns as part of the planning process for major projects because his style is to be an inclusive, proactive leader."Linda Eskind Rebrovick:
"Based on the public information available, I was supportive of the downtown flood protection program because I think we have to take the necessary measures to protect lives and businesses here in Nashville, and that will be my first priority as mayor," said Rebrovick. "Over the last decade we've seen a tremendous increase is the number of residents living downtown, and we can't risk another flood that jeopardizes human lives and businesses. I believe Scott Potter and other Metro officials identified the most responsible option with this flood protection program."
As for the defeat of the proposed relocation of the downtown jail to Antioch, Rebrovick highlights the importance of community input on the front end of decisions that impact neighborhoods in Davidson County.
"I have learned through 39 years in business and the community, we must bring all stakeholders to the table when evaluating important decisions, and that has to include the community's input," said Rebrovick. "The Southeast Nashville community has been very vocal in its opposition to the relocation of the jail, including collecting 1,000 petition signatures, because the move would have had a direct impact on their quality of life. As mayor, I will look for ways to improve the process of collecting community input and communicating with all stakeholders prior to making big decisions like this."
Rebrovick has pointed to the fact that Metro has a lot of vacant and underused property that could be leveraged for affordable housing, and says this vacant property could also be considered for projects like the new jail and the north police precinct. If the locations already identified are the most suitable for these types of developments, the data and recommendations should be shared with the local communities to explain why the decisions are being made.
"The North Nashville police precinct is also an issue where the community wasn't involved early enough in the process, but it's a different situation than what Antioch was facing," said Rebrovick. "In this case, there could be a benefit to the Jefferson Street corridor in the form of new growth and increased public safety, but nevertheless, the community's voice should have been taken into consideration prior to making a decision that affects residents in the area. Again, I would look for ways to better communicate proposals like this with community stakeholders before moving ahead with a project."Charles Robert Bone:
"These are important issues, but we should learn from this experience that leadership has important stages, only the first of which is vision. Explaining the vision and earning community support are just as important. The people in our neighborhoods and communities matter. We need to ensure that we seek collaboration and solicit community input on big capital projects. As mayor, I'll seek to be bold enough to maintain our momentum and responsible enough to diversify our prosperity and investments for all of Nashville.Megan Barry (an at-large Metro councilwoman, who voted Tuesday to keep funding for the flood wall, but to pull funds for the jail proposal and police headquarters):
Last night, I supported the flood protection system downtown because I believe we should learn our lessons from 2010 and take proactive steps to mitigate a future disaster. But I also understand that many around Nashville were concerned that more action wasn't being taken to protect all parts of the county. As mayor, I will work with the Metro Water Services, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the citizens of Nashville to put forward a comprehensive plan that addresses flood protection from Bellevue to Southeast Nashville and every area in-between.
With respect to the Criminal Justice Center, I believe that moving the jail facilities to Antioch is the wrong thing to do, and I'm encouraged by reports indicating Sheriff Hall will look at renovating the existing facilities downtown, which will also drive the conversations about the new police headquarters. As mayor, I will work with our public safety officials to make sure that our police officers, firefighters, and Sheriff's department have great facilities and the equipment they need do their jobs while staying safe.