Jim Gingrich and Matt Wiltshire Credit: Campaign photos

Jim Gingrich has been touting a “plan to manage Nashville’s growth” in ads for months. Last week, the Banner’s Demetria Kalodimos at a mayoral forum asked him, “Where is it?” It’s coming next week, the candidate responded.

Hours before the latest televised forum, it arrived. Gingrich says Nashville needs a business leader who makes it “possible to have growth while preserving the heart of Nashville.” 

Clocking in at 3,261 words, Gingrich detailed proposals on “affordable housing, public safety, education and economic opportunity, traffic and transportation, protecting the soul of Nashville, services and infrastructure, homelessness and fiscal responsibility.” Each subsection is filled with broad action verbs, sub-plans and program proposals that make a few promises and leave a few questions unanswered.

On education, Gingrich proposes a five-year plan for principals with a program to train “25 future leaders per year.” He also promises to establish a public safety unit that reports directly to him, supports a community crime prevention strategy and seeks to better staff, train, compensate and resource the police department. 

Other highlights:

  • He proposes establishing a “state-wide” center for best practices in education. 
  • He plans to support the Barnes fund further and launch a housing finance agency. 
  • He wants to increase the number of buses and transportation hubs. 
  • He says the American Recovery and Inflation Reduction Acts can be used to support infrastructure.
  • He promises that by relying on the private sector, new permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness could have little to no cost to the city. 

As always, the devil is in the details. There are few specific funding proposals for new programs in Gingrich’s plan and no mention of new taxes.

In the most Bredesen-esque statement he’s made so far, Gingrich also promises to go through Nashville’s multi-billion budget line by line. 

Wiltshire’s Policy Book Lands, Too

Just hours after the release of Gingrich’s plan, Matt Wiltshire rolled out a 26-page policy plan of his own

Wiltshire’s “policy priorities” are divided into three main categories: education, public safety committee, and quality of life. Each of the three main categories is then divided into four to five subcategories, presenting more specifics on what the former MDHA executive plans to get done should he get elected in August. Wiltshire developed the priorities through a system of committees and credited more than 30 experts and community members for their input.

Considering the emphasis he has been putting on education, with a TV ad released last week called “First Day” stressing the importance of funding public schools, it’s no surprise that the issue came first on the list. Wiltshire provided a few different priorities for each age group, including adding childcare facilities to high schools for the children of teachers, working with developers to create housing options specifically for teachers, and amplifying programs that help high school students find college opportunities. 

Predictably, the affordable housing aspect of his plan is the most substantive and focuses on two main priorities: helping Nashvillians stay in their homes and adding more affordable housing units. For the first priority, his plan centers around streamlining and expanding Metro’s tax-freeze program. Wiltshire also emphasizes increasing and creating “sustainable, demand-based funding for the Barnes Fund,” accelerating MDHA’s Envision program, and streamlining the permitting process to prioritize affordable housing projects. 

Other highlights of the plan:

  • Prioritizes fully staffing the police department
  • Prioritizes expanding the Partners in Care program, which partners mental health professionals with police officers to respond to 911 calls or emergencies that might center around a mental health crisis.
  • Commits to prioritizing and accelerating the development of “dedicated-lane mass transit to Murfreesboro Pike along a route that connects downtown to the airport” before the end of the year.
  • Will seek to place affordable housing options near transit stops

The page is appropriately titled “Policy Priorities,” as it is heavy on priorities, lighter on how some of it will be executed and even lighter on where funding will come from. The term “public-private partnerships” recurs throughout the section and seems to be one of his main strategies for getting projects done. 

Disclosure: Matt Wiltshire has donated to the Nashville Banner. Financial supporters play no role in the Banner’s journalism.

Addison Wright, a Nashville native, is a student-athlete (swimming) at UNC Asheville, where she's double majoring in Mass Communications and Political Science in the class of 2024.