Candidate: Sandy Ewing
Metro Council District 34
Occupation: “I manage environmental and social sustainability for a military housing portfolio, for both existing and new housing.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “When I lived in D.C., I was an Environmental Project Officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development, working on foreign assistance programs in the former Soviet Union. Here in Nashville, I was the Assistant Director for Building Operations at Metro Nashville General Services. I have not held political office before.”
Community experience: “I am the Lead Government advocate for the TS Alliance, which raises funds for research to find a cure for Tuberous Sclerosis, a genetic disease that my son has. I am also the TN Chair for the TS Alliance of Middle TN annual fundraiser. I am a member of the Advisory Council for the Tennessee Technology Access Program, which helps Tennessee residents with disabilities and their families find and get the tools that they need to live independent, productive lives where and how they choose. A few years back I volunteered to assist in implementing the first Nashville Diversity Tour for the National Organization for Workforce Diversity.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“My top priorities all tie back to prioritizing a resilient Nashville for all Nashvillians, promoting wellbeing for all, safety, equitable and inclusive sustainable growth, and building the city’s ability to withstand the impacts of natural and human made disasters. Some of the ways we can do this include: Ensuring infrastructure needs are met, including road maintenance, stormwater and waste management; Addressing traffic issues – congestion, public transport, traffic calming; and Preserving and adding to parks and green space, which will help provide quiet and healthy spaces for all residents and aid in reducing heat island effect (to name just two benefits), and protecting water resources.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“It’s hard to choose just one, but a big issue is stormwater management. With the amount of infill, we are having issues with localized flooding. This goes back to my priority to help Nashville grow in ways that are sustainable. We need to pay attention to infrastructure and how it supports the growth and development that is happening, both large building projects and infill projects. I would work to build on the efforts of my predecessor and others to make sure our codes ensure that projects are done in ways that leave enough pervious surfaces to allow for stormwater infiltration.”
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 is one of resilience, meaning we pay attention to the impacts of climate change, increased rainfall, increased heatwaves and more. We need to adhere to the low impact development requirements we already have in place. We should be building spaces and places downtown that are activated, that can be accessed via public transport, that offer plenty of green space and places for people to gather. I would love to see a downtown with fewer cars and more walkable, bikeable spaces and public transport options. I want to see a downtown that offers a range of housing options, including housing that is price accessible for a variety of Nashvillians. I would also love to see a downtown that makes room for more small business, artists, and musicians.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“I don’t really want to re-litigate what’s already happened. I want to focus on making sure the East Bank is developed in a way that makes sense for all Nashvillians, that offers walkable, bikeable spaces, affordable housing options, possibilities for small business, public transport options, and green spaces.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“I think we need to assess this. I do know that police vehicles are not being repaired and put back on the road in a timely way, which is impairing the MNPD’s ability to have police presence at full capacity. I also think we need to think about whether we are offering enough to attract and retain good officers. This is important as our city grows.”
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?
“Generally, I am uncomfortable with that kind of technology. I am also aware, however, that I do not have all the information that the council had when they made their decision on allowing LPR usage. I am always open to learning more about an issue and debating the merits of something like this.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“I really don’t have the data to make an assessment, however typically property tax adjustments are made every 4 years. We all want to keep our property taxes as low as possible, but we also have to be pragmatic and understand that sometimes these adjustments are needed to allow the city to perform the functions we all rely on.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“I believe my role on council would be both of these things. I would be expected to convey my district’s thoughts and concerns on issues that arise, but I would also need to lead and make informed decisions on a variety of issues, while helping residents understand the discussions as they play out. This is crucial as decisions we make in council impact the entire city.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“The relationship is the worst it’s ever been. There is a lot of work ahead of us to find ways to get the business of the city accomplished without engendering more ill will and fighting with the state legislature. Building relationships with counties around us will help build up support. It’s also important to find common ground where possible with the State Legislature, remembering that we all have the goal of making Tennessee a great place to live and work.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“We’ve had a lot of luxury housing being built, but not enough in the way of affordable housing. We need to build on what we are doing with the Barnes Fund that’s been a part of the Dept of Planning for years. We are increasing the resources we’re putting into affordable housing and this needs to continue, with income-aligned housing so that the essential workers we talked about so much in the pandemic have housing options close to work. We need to be producing 5000 units/year to begin making up the affordable housing deficit currently, according to Kay Bowers. We are currently producing 2000 units per year. I agree with Ms. Bowers’ assessment that, like other cities, it would help to dedicate a stream of revenue for the Barnes Housing Trust Fund that provides housing for renters at 60% or below AMI ($50,000 for household).”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“In talking with transit experts, I have learned that the improvements Nashvillians would like to see are: 1) More frequent buses, 10-min frequency or better so you don’t have to plan your life around taking the bus and timing it right; 2) Longer operating hours, working towards 24-hour services for late-shift or early-morning shift workers; 3) Cross-town routes so you don’t have to come all the way downtown to switch buses; 4) A decentralized network of mobility hubs. I don’t think all of these will be achieved in four years, but this is what we need to be working on now. A dedicated funding source is crucial so that we can build out our new mobility infrastructure, and leverage more grant money from the federal level by virtue of having local-level matching funds. We’re losing out to other cities on this right now.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $18,555,59
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $21,564
Link to full disclosure here