Tennessean Q&A: 2019 Nashville District Council Runoff Elections
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CandidateDeCosta HastingsKyonzte' Toombs
Office soughtMetro Council District 2 (incumbent)Metro Council District 2
Town or city and ZIP codeNashville 37208Nashville 37207
EducationB.AVanderbilt University - BA 2001, JD 2004; Emory - MBA 2009; University of Alabama - Tax LLM 2011; East Tennessee State University - Graduate Certificate - Health Care Management 2015
Job historyInsurance & InvestmentLicensed attorney since November 2004; Attorney - State of Tennessee, April 2005–April 2007; 2010-present; private practice April 2007-2008, May 2009-April 2010
FamilyMarried with one childMarried since October 2010 to DeAngelo Toombs; 4 children - Aylisha (19), Nina (7), Jayden (5), Miles (3)
Why are you running for this office?I am running for re-election to finish things that was started during our first term. I want to continue focusing on better infrastructure, neighborhood beautification, Public Safety and better educational options for our children.District 2 is in need of new leadership that listens to the community and spearheads responsible growth and improvements that reflect the wants and needs of the community.
What makes you qualified to hold this office and better qualified than your opponent(s)?I am the sitting councilman which I have four years of experience in working to make district 2 a better place to live, play, and work.I am a public servant with over 10 years experience as a government attorney. I, along with a team of attorneys that I manage, advise government officials and regulatory boards. I analyze and interpret laws and legislation. I draft legislation and regulations. The Council is a legislative body, and I have extensive legislative experience. Additionally, I am a trusted community leader with years of leadership experience in various community and professional organizations. I am knowledgeable, skilled, and ready to lead on Day One.
What are your top 2 to 3 priorities for your new (or next) term in office?Affordable housing and infrastructureEquity, affordability, and safety. I want to bring the community together to develop a community plan that reflects responsible development and infrastructure improvements that will allow our community to move forward on our own terms.
Do you think Nashville is headed in the right direction? Why or why not?I think the city is heading in the direction of many opportunities which if managed correctly could be beneficial for all residents of this great City. If managed correctly the city must be and has to be heading in the right direction. We have to put more emphasis on public safety, education, and Community Development that will create a city that the residence can strive.Yes and no. Yes in that the economic boom has been generally good for Nashville’s profile as a whole. However, everyone is not benefiting from the economic boom. Gentrification has pushed out many longtime residents, the working poor, and the elderly out of the city to other counties. Recent data reflects that it takes $80K a year to live comfortably in Nashville. Yet the median income is about $50K ($35K in District 2). We need to shift our priorities some, so that everyone in Nashville benefits from the economic boom.
What is your opinion on Nashville's growth and should it be sustained? If so, how?I feel Nashville's growth is great, but should reflect success for all Nashvillians.We need to shift our priorities some, so that everyone in Nashville can benefit from the growth of the city. Even if every big development deal came to a halt, Nashville would continue to grow. People are going to continue to be attracted to the city and move here. We need to shift some of our focus to economic equity and infrastructure improvement, so that we, as a city, can keep up with the growth and insure that our citizens can afford to live here.
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?We have to focus on equality on all levels of the Metropolitan government. A equality in the area of Contracting out government services and other development contracts with women and minority-owned businesses. We as a city have to do a better job. We need to shift our priorities, so that we put people first. We have to prioritize giving our schools the resources that they need, making sure that our workers are paid a living wage, financially supporting the advancement of marginalized groups, and insuring that all can live and thrive in our city regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, immigration status, etc.
What are you hearing most from voters about what they want you to accomplish, if elected?It seems the voters are mostly concerned with affordability here in our city. The people of this great city wants us to focus on making sure that metro create a Better Living wage dso the people can remain a part of this city that we call home.Voters want a councilperson who is responsive to their concerns. They want their emails and phone calls to be returned. They want to be aware of what’s going on in the district in terms of development at the planning stage, not after approvals have been obtained and ground is broken. Infrastructure improvements are high on the list of residents. There are several areas that flood in heavy rain. We need more crosswalks and sidewalks, so that we can safely commute through our neighborhoods. Residents want traffic calming measures because some streets are entirely too dangerous due to speeding cars. Residents are concerned about the schools in the district and don’t want them to close. A community plan is also high on the list, so that residents can preserve the integrity of their neighborhoods and have a say in what type of development comes into the district.
What is your position on economic incentives to private companies in the past and in the future?Economic incentives can be important for a major Metropolitan system. We must as a government must manage all our incentives to make sure all of our priorities are handled before incentives should be forgivenI support economic incentives that produce a specific and measurable return on investment that benefits all of Nashville. Economic incentives allow cities and states to compete for and attract businesses. Businesses create jobs, and we need jobs. With the exception of entrepreneurs, we all work for someone. Economic incentives are an investment. When Nashville grants incentives to a corporation, Nashville (and its citizens) become an investor in that corporation. No one invests money without an expectation of a return on that investment. Nashville has not done a good job of demanding and tracking whether the incentives that we have invested in projects have resulted in a worthwhile return on investment. For Nashville to remain a competitive city, refusing to offer incentives may not be feasible. However, we can do a better job of tying those incentives to actual measurable benefits for the citizens of Nashville.
How involved should the mayor and Metro Council be in governing Metro Nashville Public Schools?I really feel that there should be a more in-depth responsibilities of the city mayor and the Metro Council responding to the Metro School Board. I do understand at this time because of legal statues the Metro Council can only approve the yearly budget and not the management of schools which are part of the Metropolitan governmental system.The school board is the governing body for our public schools. It should maintain its authority. However, I think there should be some collaboration between the three. Working in silos has not served our children well. As a MNPS parent, I’m very concerned about the status of our schools. As councilperson, I will advocate for our public schools.
Do support increasing the property tax rate for Metro Nashville residents? If so, why? If not, why not?I believe that property taxes should only be increased if Public Safety issue for our residents, but I do believe that a independent source of financing should be directed for police, fire, and funding metro schoolsYes, I do. We need a steady stream of recurring revenue that will insure that our schools and our workers have the resources that they need. However, we also need to insure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected and don’t lose their homes due to an inability to pay the increased property tax. Increasing the tax and protecting our vulnerable citizens can be done.
Although the transit referendum of 2018 failed, how should Metro approach transit and transportation issues into the future?I believe the Metro Council should be more involved with the public transit discussion and the people of their districts have to be involved with making a better transit system for all of Nashville Davidson County.Metro can improve its current bus system with longer operating hours, more buses, a reliable bus schedule, safer bus stops (bus stops that are not inches from the street or in a ditch and that have covered seating), sidewalks and crosswalks so that residents can get from their homes to the bus stop safely, and better lighting. Increased bike lanes and traffic calming measures would make biking safer, which would encourage residents to bike to some places rather than use a car.
What is your position on the future of scooters in Nashville?I believe our public Work system have to have a better way of managing safety on public scootersRiding without a helmet is a disaster waiting to happen. I’m not sure of a way to address that safety concern with scooters. Scooters are an answer to the congestion caused by too many cars on the road. For that reason, I’m inclined to keep them as a transportation option. However, the safety concerns have to be addressed.
How should Nashville address the affordable housing scarcity? And what is your position on Mayor Briley's Under One Roof initiative?I believe that is going to take public and private Partnerships to handle the issues of affordable housing here in the city not just one governmental entityMayor Briley’s plan is a step in the right direction. However, it’s not enough. We have a 30,000 unit affordable housing shortage. We need more private investment in affordable housing. Companies come to Nashville and make a lot of money. They should want to contribute to our city. We need to work to incentivize companies to want to do the right thing and invest in affordable housing. We, as a city, also need to prioritize affordable housing and invest more money in it. We need to put more money into the Barnes Fund. We also need to be clear that affordable housing is not just low-income housing but middle income housing as well. Many in my district are very concerned about having pockets of concentrated poverty in the district due to having multiple low income developments placed in the district. Affordable housing options should be available throughout the city.
What is your position on a proposal to privatize parking enforcement in the downtown and surrounding areas?At this time I cannot support privatization of parking here in our city.I do not support privatizing government services.
What is your position on the future of the Nashville Fairgrounds?I believe the fairgrounds is important part of our city and we have to find a better way of managing its problemsThe coming redevelopment should be community-focused and benefit the community at large.
How could Metro better balance the needs and wants of downtown and the outlying neighborhoods?I believe we as leaders have to have a honest discussion on our strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats in order to manage things in a better wayAgain, we need to shift our priorities and put more focus on neighborhoods. Right now, the majority of the focus is on the needs and wants of downtown. A lot of tax payer dollars are put into downtown with very little return on investment for the average taxpayer. Listening to the residents of the outlying neighborhoods to gain insight into their wants and needs would be a start. Then, actually putting the necessary resources into addressing those needs and wants would go a little way toward shifting some of the focus away from downtown and to the neighborhoods.
When visitors ask you, "What should I do in Nashville?" what are the top 3 things or places you recommend?Downtown development, Jefferson street, Northwest Nashville Bordeaux my community.It depends on the age of the visitor and what’s going on in the city at the time of the visit. 1. Eat at Slim & Husky’s; 2. Walk around downtown; and 3. visit some other eatery or hangout spot.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you, your values and priorities?I'm hard-working Councilman that cares about its citizens that he represents and the community of Nashville and can't wait to see the great things that are coming for Nashville in the futureDistrict 2 is at a pivotal point. Development in every other part of the city has meant displacement. I want our community to preserve its history and enjoy economic progress. We can do this without displacing anyone. I’m committed to fighting for my community.
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)Yes