Candidate: Jama Mohamed

Metro Council District 29

Website: “n/a”

Occupation: “Software Developer”

Previous candidacy/offices held: “none”

Community experience: “My first job was working at Compton’s Foodland making a cool $5.85 an hour. That income allowed me to go to the Hickory Hollow Mall and buy tall tees from Champs, oversized jean shorts from Man of Fashion, and a Kyocera Cricket flip phone with a less-than-stellar camera.”

“I spent most of my adult life pursuing a career in filmmaking, graduating with a BFA in Digital Filmmaking from the Art Institute in 2012. My art became an essential outlet for navigating the complex emotions and challenges associated with being a parent to a child with a disability and having a parent with a disability. These experiences pushed me towards disability advocacy and emphasized the importance of creating an inclusive and accessible community.”

“During my time as the Youth Program Coordinator at Family Voices of Tennessee, I developed inclusive youth programming and facilitated a youth advisory council for children and youth with special healthcare needs, in partnership with the Tennessee State Department of Health.”

“The power of collective action and transformative change is something I deeply believe in, and these principles were further solidified during the summer of 2020. Participating in the People’s Plaza protests in Nashville, I found myself arrested for trespassing on Capitol grounds. Spending 15 hours in detention while Independence Day fireworks were going off is an experience that left an indelible mark. Coupled with the poignant moment of witnessing the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from the Tennessee State Capitol after 40 years, it reiterated that change is indeed possible when people unite for justice.”

What will be your top three priorities on the Council?

“State Preemption, Affordable Housing, Transit”

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

“State preemption is a significant challenge for District 29 and all districts across Nashville. The general assembly has been striking at the heart of local autonomy and threatening our community’s ability to self-govern. Meddling into local matters limiting our capacity address a wide range of crucial issues.” 

“They’re to diverting our taxpayer money towards private school tuition in the form of vouchers to undermining our public school system. They interfere with our ability to ensure affordable housing through community benefits agreements. The implications are broad, affecting everything from our local elections and legal processes to our airport and sports authorities, even reaching our Lower Broadway bars. These actions diminish our capacity to make decisions about our own community. It’s essential that we resist this overreach to maintain local control.”

“While it’s important to work in harmony with our state government when possible, I believe the primary duty of council members is to serve the needs of their local constituents first. I am committed to supporting efforts aimed at combating such overreaches.” 

“While I acknowledge that the state government has a role in shaping laws that affect us, it is inappropriate for it to make petty laws specifically targeting certain counties, including ours. The established processes should be followed when it comes to matters like school funding or council composition.”

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

“Downtown Nashville has its place, but there’s so much more to our city than just that. I’m not much of a downtown guy myself, I’m all about the neighborhoods – those are the heart and soul of our city.”

“So, what’s my vision? It’s about pumping life into our neighborhoods all around the city. Let’s make them places where folks love to live, work, and play. Better public transport, cool local businesses, parks to kick back in, and homes people can actually afford.”

“And while we’re at it, let’s make sure we’re doing it right – not shoving people out, but making space for everyone. We want our neighborhoods to reflect who we really are – diverse, friendly, and full of flavor. That’s the Nashville I want to see.”

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

“Look, I’m all for the Titans and Coach Vrable, but I can’t help but question this situation. Here we have a team that’s been struggling on the field, yet they’re seeking one of the biggest public subsidies for a stadium in U.S. history. What’s more, they’ve had no qualms about holding back on player contracts, yet they turn to us when it comes time to build?”

“I mean, if we had a superstar like Patrick Mahomes on the team, I might be more inclined to back a 30 year investment for stadium and neighborhood built in a flood zone for a sport that’s already peaked.” 

“But… We have Tannehill as our QB, and there isn’t a single receiver on the roster with over 500 yards in a season. Derrick Henry will be acting in plays at Andrew Jackson Hall before they build that thing. Seems like a hard sell to me. I’d really like to see just how much the Titans have invested in talent compared to other NFL teams. They’re quick to ask for public funds, but are they putting up their share?”

“And let’s not forget: AJ Brown, whom the Titans chose not to pay in the previous off-season, ranked 13th in receptions, 4th in yards and average yards per reception, and tied for 3rd in TDs last season. AND he went off on the Titans with 100+ yards and multiple TDs. Just something to think about.”

Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?

“Given my belief that community investment is a crucial aspect of public safety, I don’t think the solution is necessarily hiring more police officers. Instead, we should be focusing resources on health and social services that can prevent situations that often lead to police involvement. For instance, by having civilian first responder programs for those experiencing behavioral health crises, and redesigning our 911 systems to provide a public health response to nonviolent, behavioral health calls.”

“Similarly, for routine traffic enforcement, we should consider using civilian first responders dedicated to road safety, adopting best practices to reduce racial disparities. In schools, we need professionals with expertise in adolescent development to handle behavioral and disciplinary challenges, not police officers.”

“However, that’s not to say the role of the police isn’t important. We saw during the recent school shooting at Covenant that our officers can perform admirably in challenging situations to mitigate harm. This reinforces the idea that the key lies in a balanced approach, focusing on prevention through better mental health support and sensible gun control measures, while maintaining a police force capable of responding effectively when incidents do occur.”

“Ultimately, the objective should be to redefine the role of the police and ensure that they’re not expected to handle issues that are better addressed by other professionals. So, rather than simply increasing the number of police officers, I believe we should work on enhancing the breadth and effectiveness of our community support services.”

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’m not a fan of these license plate readers. I know all the next door folks people in my district are all for it. I get a little antsy about anything that keeps tabs on where people are going.”

“And facial recognition? Hell no. I once fell down a rabbit hole watching these Congressional House Oversight Committee hearings about it, and I came out the other side sweating like Alex Jones. Not for me, thanks.”

“And it’s not just downtown I’m worried about. I don’t want to be picking up my groceries at Kroger and have them tracking my face around the store either. Maybe we can’t do much about that, but I think we should at least try. Privacy’s a big deal, and it feels like it’s getting smaller every day.”

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

“Honestly, with the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if a property tax rate adjustment becomes a talking point in the next few years. Nashville’s been booming, and that’s great, but it also means more demand for stuff like schools, transit, and other support services.”

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

“As a council member, I believe my role primarily is to lead the district. Stepping into this public role is a substantial commitment and I hope this illustrates my dedication and builds a foundation of trust with the community. However, I don’t see myself compromising my core beliefs simply to retain this position. My hope is to foster to be transparent about who I am now. I wan to build a relationship of mutual respect and alignment with my constituents, and if differences arise, I welcome any challenges. This democratic process ensures that our district continues to be represented in a way that truly reflects its needs and values.”

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

“Challenges arise when we encounter individuals who possess considerable power yet lack integrity and honesty. The state, unfortunately, is not acting in good faith, and I believe that attempting to appease them holds no value. It is crucial to confront them through legal means. It is evident that certain individuals are willing to bend the rules when they don’t get their way, and this behavior is not respectable, nor is it respected by anyone, in my opinion.” 

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

“Honestly, I’m all ears when it comes to finding ways to make Nashville more affordable. Whether it’s inclusionary zoning, community land trusts, affordable housing trust funds, rent stabilization, enhancing tenant protections, or promoting granny flats – as long as the bigwigs at the state don’t pull the rug out from under us, I’m up for considering it.

But let’s keep it real here. I come from art school, not Vanderbilt’s school of public policy. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still learning the ropes. I’m here to do the best I can for District 29, and part of that might just mean stepping aside and letting the folks who’ve been studying this stuff for ages take the lead. If there was a one-size-fits-all solution to this, I’d like to think someone would have put it into action by now. What I do promise is to listen, learn, and do what I can to keep District 29 on the up-and-up.”

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

“Improving our city’s transit system is a key priority for me. Specifically, I believe WeGo should focus on enhancing our local MTA service and strongly consider the establishment of a local transit hub in Antioch. Having to go downtown then transfer to get anywhere is a pain. Getting to Nolensville Rd or Lebanon Pk from my house shouldn’t take an hour.”

“If creating a dedicated source, gets cars off the street, improves the rider experience and reliability, and reduces crowding on WeGo, let’s go. Hopefully, it would ensure we have the means to continually improve and expand our transit too.”

Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure

Raised: $4,419

Spent: $828

Cash on hand: $3,591

Link to full disclosure here

Pre-General campaign finance disclosure

Did not file