Candidate: Jamel Campbell-Gooch

Metro Council District 21


Occupation: “Community organizer with the Southern Movement Committee and Black Nashville Assembly where we are building a people driven democracy and organizing for power for Black, queer and trans, immigrant, and working class communities.”

Previous candidacy/offices held: “I was a member of the Community Oversight Board from 2019 – 2022”

Community experience: “I held restorative justice circles with students who experienced the highest suspension rates as a form of violence prevention and restorative justice. I worked at Pearl Cohn significantly decreased school suspensions and fostered school safety. After school, I worked with elementary & middle schoolers at Easley Community Center. In route to full-time organizing I was elected to the inaugural Community Oversight Board, a board that was created through referendum by Nashville’s voters. 

In March 2020 after North Nashville was hit by a tornado, I led community organizations, nonprofits, building contractors, government agencies, and Black and working class families to rebuild District 21. I coordinated food, water and supply distribution, led community-clean up efforts, helped families address damages to their homes, put families in touch with resources, and fought back against predatory developers. 

I co-founded the  Nashville People’s Budget coalition in 2019 to pass a people’s budget using participatory budgeting. I co-founded the Black Nashville Assembly in 2020 to increase political engagement, organize Black communities around bold policy solutions, develop new leaders, and fight for power. 

In 2021 I co-founded the Southern Movement Committee to build people-driven democracy throughout the state of Tennessee and shift power to Black and working class Tennesseans through political engagement and community organizing. 

After seeing that young people did not have access to the training and tools necessary to build youth power and fight for fully funded education I co-founded the Southern Movement Committee’s Youth Assembly.” 

What will be your top three priorities on the Council?

“Education, Housing, and Public Safety” 

What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?

“Developers and elected officials have made decisions without community input. These decisions have resulted in underinvestment in education and public goods, significant displacement, systemic violence and intracommunity harm.” 

Much of the city’s developmental focus, like plans for a new East Bank, have focused on downtown. What’s your vision for downtown?

“My vision for downtown includes a space where working-class community members have a place to work, have fun, navigate downtown government businesses, read, and have family time. I plan to work with community members to ensure investments in downtown reach the neighborhoods outside of downtown Nashville. Additionally, the investments that are made to downtown are equal if not more than the investments we make in neighborhoods that are working class and that downtown is a space that is safe and welcoming for all community members. I hope to pass innovative policies that give Nashville the tools and resources to support community members experiencing houselessness downtown.”

Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?

“I would vote no to the new Titans stadium financing”

Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?

“We do not. Our communities can be safe, healthy, and strong when we implement policies and funding that diversify public safety and invests in community-driven forms of safety.”

What do you think of the current framework passed by the council around LPR (license plate readers) usage? Do you think Metro should allow facial recognition technology to be used downtown?

“I worked in solidarity with over a dozen nonprofit and community organizations and organized against LPRs. We should not use facial recognization down town.”

Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?

“Working class people, the backbone of Nashville deserve to have the ability to stay in Nashville. 

The way the city is headed we will need to intentionally develop ways for working class people to be able to stay and thrive in Nashville. 

Participatory Democracy processes will be ways that I will popularize information and allow the constituents to way in on policies. These processes will help us collectively determine if and when to implement property tax rate adjustments.”

Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?

“Both and. Many times in Nashville decisions are made in spaces, times, and places that are inaccessible to the everyday working class resident of Nashville. I believe my role in City Council is to represent the views of District 21 residents when meetings are inaccessible (while working to make meetings more accessible to all Nashvillians) and also bring information to the residents of District 21 so they have the opportunity to co-govern themselves.

I also see myself as someone who is leading my District especially on difficult issues. It’s on me as a City Council Member to know the policies in and out, take point on educating the residents of my district, and use participatory democracy to make sure we can make more collective decisions as residents in District 21.”

How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?

“We should fight the state on anything when they decide to do overreach local democratic decisions. 

Nashville was able to successfully stall the shrinking of Metro Council—we should take this stance when it comes to issues like housing and the democratically created Community Oversight Board etc.

City Council does have wiggle room when it comes to enacting laws coming from the State. City Council should determine what’s best for working class families in Nashville. So if there’s an ability to mitigate the states harm on the people of Nashville City Council should use every tool available”

The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?

“The city’s affordability should be number one on Metro council’s agenda.

We should continue to grow the allocations to the Barnes Fund.

Diversify what’s considered affordable housing and invest in community-driven forms of social housing.

Promote innovative solutions to housing affordability by piloting tools like Guaranteed Basic Income, Housing Cooperatives ,etc.”

What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?

“WeGo should increase the number of bus stops. With funding from the city, also increase accessibility by making sure every person who needs a bus pass and access to transportation has one to get to doctor’s appointments, work, school, community centers and libraries. 

Because so many Nashvillians are being forced to move to the margins of the city, many even outside of the city, WeGo should increase routes and stops to the city’s margins.

We should also consider investing in solutions to fix the city’s infrastructure layout. 

In 1972 when city council completed the interstate through North Nashville it caused a disruption in the flow of traffic in District 21 and essentially dead ended a historic Black community that still has accessibility issues. The WeGo transit center moving to Clarksville Highway is a major step but will take innovative solutions to solve the historical harm done.”

Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure

Raised: $9,044

Spent: $4,791

Cash on hand: $4,253

Link to full disclosure here

Pre-General campaign finance disclosure

Raised: $507

Spent: $595

Cash on hand: $4,164

Link to full disclosure here