District 7 Metro Council runoff candidates 2019
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CandidateEmily BenedictClint Camp
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Age4638
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Office soughtMetro Council District 7Metro Council District 7
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Town or city and ZIP codeNashville, 37216Nashville, TN 37216
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EducationBachelor's DegreeBachelor of Science, Civil Engineering (2004) Tennessee Tech University; Master's of Engineering (2009) Vanderbilt University
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Job history2016-Current - Realtor at Village Real Estate
1999-2012, 2013-2018 - Sales Leadership at Office Depot’s Contract Division
2012-2013 Sales Leadership at Guy Brown Products
Director, W&A Engineering - 2018 - Present
Project Manager, Lose Design - 2016 - 2018
Project Manager, WSP - 2012-2016
Director of Facilities / County Engineer, Montgomery County Government - 2009-2012
Other firms - 2004 - 2009"
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FamilyMarried to Jessica EasleyJaney Camp, wife
Eliza Camp, daughter
Sam Camp, son
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Why are you running for this office?I’m running because Nashville is at a crossroads. I hear references to the “It City”, “New Nashville” and “Old Nashville”. We are more alike than we are different, and we need a leader who can build consensus and find the common ground among these differing positions to help Nashville-Davidson County progress. I believe that I have the experience and determination to get that done for the residents of Madison and Inglewood.I feel I have the unique skills and abilities to serve my City when those skills are needed.

As an engaged citizen that is very active in shaping our built environment, we need to invest in those things that make a City great - our workers, our housing and our transportation options. We need to invest further in our schools, parks, greenways and more, while also working together to help face our affordable housing issues.

At a time when the City itself has so many propsering, there are so many that are being left behind.
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What makes you qualified to hold this office and better qualified than your opponent(s)?My experience sets me apart. I am a bold leader who effectively collaborates with others. I am a 20-year resident of Inglewood and East Nashville, have served on the Nashville Pride Board, HRC Steering Committee, LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council. During my career, I have managed over $325 million and have actively worked to connect diverse businesses to major corporations, universities, and local government. At a time when Nashville is attracting major companies, we need leaders on the council who understand how to work with them.Having served on multiple boards, I understand the fiduciary responsibility held by Council, and possess the ability to manage policy and understand potential legislation. My background as an engineer allows me to think logically and with reason, while also tapping my experience working with multiple governmental agencies to understand the issues they must address.

Within our community, I have served and been engaged with our Inglewood Neighborhood Association, South Inglewood Neighborhood Association, Friends of Riverside Drive and Discover Madison, Inc. I plan to continue partnering with these groups and more to create a better community together.
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What are your top 2 to 3 priorities for your new (or next) term in office?First, I believe that we must fully fund our schools and government. Our teachers, firefighters, police, and bus drivers deserve their overdue cost of living adjustments, and frankly there are many other citizens that need a cost of living adjustment as well. Our schools should not be faced with the problem of having classes without full-time teachers for an entire year. This is a disservice not only to our children, but to our entire community’s future. District 7 has a unique commodity in Stratford STEM Magnet, which is the only non-charter science, technology, engineering, and math high school in the city. Through the Chamber of Commerce CEO Champions Program, I want the companies moving to Nashville work directly with our STEM scholars so they are primed for the technology segment jobs that are coming to the city not just now but in the future. Just this week, Amazon announced that they want to partner with MNPS. I was out in front of this issue and am glad to see Amazon working with us.

Second, District 7 is mainly residential and faced with a need to grow housing density. I want to focus that density in areas where the infrastructure can sustain it, mainly along and adjacent to our corridor streets. I believe specific areas of the district need historic overlays and I will support putting those in place where homeowners come together and want them. We also need what I call attainable housing. As we get these technology jobs and cost of living raises for public employees we have an obligation to provide housing that meets their budgets. I say attainable because this issue is about more than just the cost of housing. We also have to look at wage growth for our residents. Simply put, there is no housing that is attainable if our citizens aren’t making fair wages.

Finally, there are funds out there to improve our sidewalks and transportation. No child, no senior, should be put in harm's way because of unsafe and unwalkable streets. I want all of us to understand where our tax dollars are going so that we can get our fair share in District 7.
Education. Housing. Mobility.

Working with the School Board, we must discuss how we can fund our educational needs - from teachers, para-professionals, custodians, and bus drivers, to textbooks, facilities and other resources needed to provide the appropriate education.

Together we need to identify incentives and opportunities to provide housing density, such as along our urban corridors, to provide more housing options and diversity.

We've identified a lot of our infrastructure needs, including sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes and transit. They need steady and significant investments in order to make a real impact.
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Do you think Nashville is headed in the right direction? Why or why not?I think that we need to be asking ourselves a different question. We can debate all day long about whether Nashville is headed in the right or wrong direction, but what we need to be asking ourselves is, “Are we satisfied with where we are?” As the urban core has grown, our communities and many of our citizens have been left behind, which include our teachers, police, firefighters, and other metro employees who have been the backbone of this city. We have a moral obligation to make sure that we are investing in those that have invested in us and that we are providing them with safe, walkable, communities of character where they live. It’s time that we start building up our communities outside of downtown and focus on them.Nashville is growing. Our tax base continues to improve, and we have great resources at hand, both natural and in our economy. We have a once-in-several generations opportunity to use our resources and all of this excitement to funnel into our civic institutions - to build great schools, libraries, performing arts centers and others that provide for a great quality of life.
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What is your opinion on Nashville's growth and should it be sustained? If so, how?It’s very easy to listen to all of the political noise and assume the candidates are anti-growth/anti-development. While I cannot, and will not, speak for any of the other candidates out there, I will say that I never will be against growth. That being said, I do feel that we have to be smart in our approach. Nashville has become known as “It City,” but it is high time that we became known for our “It Communities.” I want to make sure that as we grow we are investing in our neighborhoods outside of downtown, more specifically in District 7, in an equitable manner. We cannot afford to have growth that displaces anyone through gentrification, and we cannot have developers attempting to push others out. We also have to make sure that we are preserving the character of neighborhoods that want to be protected. A perfect example that I always use are the Tudors on Riverside Dr. We simply cannot have tall and skinny homes taking up residence in areas that they aren’t wanted and frankly do not fit with the neighborhood.I'm not sure we can dictate the rate of growth, though we can certainly enact items that work to impede growth. That's not what we want to do. The continued investment in our downtown means we can have a place to be proud of - that can support downtown grocers and hopefully a return to downtown retail. We should also encourage growth along our pikes to allow us to have better neighborhood services and help make stronger neighborhoods in general.
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In his State of Metro address, Mayor Briley said he wants Nashville to be the most equitable city in America. How do we get there and what barriers are holding the city back?While there are many factors that are a part of the solution and answer to this question I would say that if we want to be known as the “Equity City,” a strong first step has to be investing in our own public employees. Equity is defined as being fair or impartial. This means that we have to give our citizens what they need in order to have a fair chance at success. Currently we have teachers, firefighters, police, and other metro employees that cannot afford to live in the city that they have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving. That is not equity. We have students that are way behind their peers in other cities and counties across the nation at no fault of their own because they either don’t have a full time teacher, or the necessary supplies to get ahead. That is not equity. If we want to go down the path of being the most equitable city then we better start there. We need to lead in terms of offering a fair and honest pay to all Metro employees. We cannot balance the checkbook for Metro government on the backs of our lowest paid.

Our students need to be able to read in order to be engaged citizens. We need to provide the wrap-around services necessary to ensure that our children can learn to read, whether that be additional food support, social services or more."
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What are you hearing most from voters about what they want you to accomplish, if elected?I’ve spoken with hundreds of voters and there are two clear themes. First, at a time when Nashville is prosperous, they don’t understand why we are not seeing more investment in the neighborhoods, whether that is teacher pay, sidewalks, or transportation. Second, voters are concerned that housing is becoming more unaffordable and unattainable every day. Return our property taxes to historical norms. Pay our teachers. Add recycling. Fix our drainage issues. Add sidewalks. Stop speeders from driving down my street. Move non-owner occupied STRs out of our neighborhoods. Allow certain home-based businesses.
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What is your position on economic incentives to private companies in the past and in the future?Historically, economic incentives, such as Tax Increment Financing, have been a tool used to attract businesses to the city, particularly downtown. However, now the public is concerned that we are not getting a return on that investment. Any future incentives, whether through TIF or another method, should be tied to the public good, whether that is improving transportation or building affordable housing units.Metro has certainly made some mis-steps in the past as it relates to incentives. However, it continues to be a valuable tool when used correctly, whether to encourage a homegrown business to expand their local workforce, or encourage relocations that bring a diversity to our local economy. Incentives could also be pursued to offer more affordable housing, or to geographically place jobs where a local neighborhood could benefit.
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How involved should the mayor and Metro Council be in governing Metro Nashville Public Schools?In Tennessee, our School Board is elected rather than appointed, so it is not appropriate for the Council to be involved in governance. Voters have the governing voice for MNPS. My goal will be to provide enough funding so they can provide wage increases to our teachers, bus drivers, and support staff, in addition to having enough money for operational supplies like textbooks for all students. We cannot attract and retain talent without a robust compensation package, so I will be clear that I want to see the approved budget used to those ends. Ultimately, though, the School Board is accountable for allocating those funds throughout MNPS.The Mayor and Council should be engaged with our School Board to ensure they provide an outstanding job in governing our school system. Together, we should be meeting at least quarterly to discuss larger-scale issues and how the Mayor and Council can facilitate any issues or concerns, including funding.
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Do support increasing the property tax rate for Metro Nashville residents? If so, why? If not, why not?I support the property tax increase as do many of the citizens that I have met throughout in District 7. That being said, we have to make sure that our Metro Government is held accountable for those tax dollars and that they are coming back to our community to our teachers, police officers, firefighters, students, seniors, and to improve infrastructure and transportation. The voters in District 7 have told me time and again that they are okay with their property taxes being increased as long as there is a guarantee that the money makes it back to the community. Let’s also be clear about what the currently proposed tax increase means. The average value of a home in Davidson County is just under $300,000. Based on a $0.525 increase, that would be $394 per year, or $1.08 per day. If $1 per day prevents our firefighters and teachers from having second jobs, then I think we would get buy-in. If we present the increase in those terms, I think it is easier for our residents to digest. We also should use the State’s Tax Freeze program for seniors. The potential reimbursement that they city could receive from the state is roughly $7.5 million per year.YES! The previous council erroneously set the rate far below what Metro has historically used to operate. The result has hamstrung how we operate as a City, slowed down our projects and forced us to spend our time debating the merits of selling off our public assets as opposed to focusing on making improvements.
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Although the transit referendum of 2018 failed, how should Metro approach transit and transportation issues into the future?We have fallen behind on our transportation infrastructure, and will be playing catch up for many years to come. The 2018 transit plan was too broad for some people to take. I think we can make smaller improvements, perhaps with some of our busiest corridors, like Gallatin Pike. Once these changes are proven to make transportation easier, then I think we will be able to work on larger initiatives throughout the city. We also should make sure our secondary streets provide safe routes to bus stops, for instance, adding sidewalks to nearby streets that lead to high-use bus routes.What Metro and the State of Tennessee have done well is delivering amazing results for minimal investment, such as our current Music City Star. We need to return to this recipe and deliver a plan to voters that has the most bang-for-the-buck, using BRT to deliver the necessary improvements and building our transportation network.

In short, we cannot stop the conversation, nor should it be delayed. We continue to need the improvements to our sidewalks and road network. "
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What is your position on the future of scooters in Nashville?The city decided to give them a trial through April 2020, and they have already become unsafe as well as a nuisance. Right now, I would like a ban until we can find an acceptable proposal by scooter companies. Those companies should be held accountable, for instance, if a scooter is blocking the right-of-way on a sidewalk, then the company should be ticketed. Using our sidewalks for motorized transit should not be tolerated, so it ought to be clear to everyone to use streets when riding. I do think scooters fit in a larger transportation conversation. Having a corral at bus stops that can help with the last mile, is much better than using a car. Show me the data. The city seems to have a strong narrative that our quality of life has been impacted by tourists staying in an STR in our neighborhoods, using scooters to head downtown and being dropped off at night by a farm tractor towing a hay wagon.

Who are using the scooters? When are the majority of trips? How can we better develop policy that uses these scooters as a tool to let folks get around our city? Could we add certain bus service lines based on scooter data? Revisit adding bike lanes in our urban core?

As the city evolves, so does our thoughts. What we cannot dismiss is that the alternative is for these scooter riders to be yet another car on our streets.
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How should Nashville address the affordable housing scarcity? And what is your position on Mayor Briley's Under One Roof initiative?I sit on the Affordable Housing Committee at Greater Nashville Realtors and have learned about a number of private organizations that are using the Barnes Fund to create affordable units for workforce housing. Public/private partnerships are an excellent avenue to approach this problem. Affordable housing is a national crisis, fueled by a growing wealth gap, so we need to address wages too. I think the Under One Roof initiative is a good start, however I’d like us to find more private dollars with it. In speaking with local residential developers, by and large, they are interested in contributing to the affordable housing stock, which may be through tiny houses or through making small units that they own and rent at below market rates. We need experts at the table to find attainable solutions. Having 50% or more of one’s income paying for their housing is simply wrong.We need housing. We have plenty of under-developed property along our corridors that can add thousands of housing units to our supply, and the resulting density means the opportunity for bodegas, and other retail and restaurants that add value to our neighborhoods.

I'm awaiting the specifics for Under One Roof, as a major commitment of the City's bonding capacity requires diligence to ensure the funds are utilized appropriately.
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What is your position on a proposal to privatize parking enforcement in the downtown and surrounding areas?I’m against privatizing enforcement. On this topic, I’d like to increase enforcement throughout the city where people take advantage of underpriced fines and parking time limits. We should create rates and fines that will pay for additional government headcount to enforce parking regulations. I think privatization or outsourcing can have benefits, such as when they bring in outside experience that the City does not posses. Mayor Briley's previously-proposed parking plan served as a cash-flow mechanism for the City.

I do think it is time that the City consider upgrading our existing parking meter technology to allow us to vary our parking rates and deploy technology so that you can find an open spot as opposed to driving around our City streets. It's good planning policy to encourage our meters to turn over and not be blocked by a single user all day long. If the private sector can provide the technology needed to upgrade our meters, we should listen.
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What is your position on the future of the Nashville Fairgrounds?We needed to update the Fairgrounds. I am excited to see our MLS team move there. The Community Benefits Agreement that was a part of the approval of the stadium is an example of how we can negotiate to deliver better results to the community. The Fairgrounds are important, both historically, and as a mixed-use property. I want to make sure whatever we decide to do aligns with our values of keeping our history intact while we grow responsibly.I've often heard of the Fairgrounds as the working-man's convention center. It's a place to host great events, whether you are a racing fan, roller-derby or wrestling fanatic, or like to visit for home show, flea market or Christmas shopping, it's an economic engine and entertainment venue for the masses.

I also hope that it is possible to continue to host the State Fair at the location, as any improvements should enhance the venue and allow us to offer more events, not restrict the space to where you can only gain access with a $100 ticket.
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How could Metro better balance the needs and wants of downtown and the outlying neighborhoods?As a city, we have to remember that we are the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. We are a city of neighborhoods, of which downtown is only one. The Music City Center has been wildly successful, so much so that we have consistently had a surplus at the Nashville Convention Center Authority. There is growing consensus that we should use those excess funds for our neighborhoods. Our residents often work downtown serving our tourists, or at the businesses that have received TIF, yet they get home to unsafe and unwalkable streets.Listen. We recognize that our downtown is the signature space - it's the skyline that gets shown on national television. But people can feel forgotten as we chase the dollars of our tourists that come to town. We cannot forget that it takes all of us, working together, to make this City so wonderful.
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When visitors ask you, "What should I do in Nashville?" what are the top 3 things or places you recommend?Go to a show at the Ryman, see Athena in the Parthenon, and stop in some night to Inglewood’s own American Legion Post 82, where you never know who you might bump into.When you come to town you have to eat, enjoy a show and check out some of our historic buildings. If you want, you can do all of those right on Lower Broadway, or you can stretch your legs a little further and find so many wonderful places across this town. It doesn't matter if you are talking hot chicken, pork bbq or vegan fare; the next Jason Aldean or a show at TPAC, or a tour of the Parthenon or Cheekwood. You'll get out of it what you put into it. Nashville's a great City and we're proud to call it home.
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Is there anything else you would like us to know about you, your values and priorities?Just that I have a proven track record of service to provide a level playing field for small and diverse businesses, in addition to my Fortune 100 experience. I’m committed to helping the residents of District 7, and I have the experience and tenacity to accomplish what they want for our city’s future.There are many things we can choose to focus on as a City. I hope we work together to address those that make an impact in all our lives and give us the foundation to be a great City. I believe in strong schools, amazing libraries, world-leading parks and a great transit system.
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Will you commit to being civil in how you present yourself and the way you interact with opponents and others? (Our definition of civility is being a good, active, honest and respectable citizen)YesYes
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