Candidate: Jeff Syracuse

Metro Council At Large


Occupation: “Performing Rights Organization”

Previous candidacy/offices held: “Metro Council District 15 – two terms”

Community experience:

What will be your top three priorities on the Council?

“1) Meeting the intersection of transit and affordable housing for more cohesive and holistic approaches. 2) Protecting, preserving, and advancing the culture and economics of a healthy music ecosystem that supports working creatives.  3) Continue the work of supporting a better functioning Metro Council through staff support and development, a more robust onboarding program for Council Members, and improving the second floor functionality of the space for Metro Council and Clerk for better transparency, accessibility, and committee work.”

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 is a neighborhood that is also a major economic generator.  We must balance tourism with quality of life for residents and continue efforts to include affordable housing, transit, and culture to take our place as a great international city that we’re becoming.”

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

“I voted in favor.  When comparing the two options of meeting the lease requirements of investing in the existing, poorly built stadium that had been deferred for years compared to the proposed new stadium, the new stadium was a much better option. Investing in the existing stadium would have burdened our operating budget’s critical needs with general obligation debt payments funded with property tax revenue versus the new stadium that uses a portion of new sales tax revenues in and around the stadium. This is based on a revenue bond that does not impact our credit rating and is a much more responsible method that gives us a greatly improved long-term revenue-generating asset that we will own with improved ability to control growth around it across the East Bank.”

Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?

“We are focusing on recruitment, retention, and future needs.  The 9th precinct in SE Davidson County should be breaking ground soon and we have been preparing for the staffing of it over the last couple of years with funding the new positions.”

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 voted in favor of the LPR pilot. The controls we placed upon data usage safeguards privacy concerns, which we will continue to evaluate during the pilot program. I don’t believe facial recognition technology is a good idea.”

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

“Undetermined at this point as we are in a strong position with much improved debt policies as well as fund balance policies to ensure we don’t repeat past mistakes, but if the Mayor and Metro Council are doing their job correctly, any adjustments should be modest.  If you look at Metro’s 60-year history of the tax rate and impact of the reappraisal process every four years, when the rate decreases pursuant to State law after the reappraisal to make the impact revenue-neutral, during subsequent years in between reappraisals, the rate is nudged up just a bit to cover increased costs and needed investments of a growing city.  The reappraisal process between 2013-2017 was one of the biggest increases of property values in Metro’s history, therefore, the rate went to the lowest it had even been.  It was unsustainable at that low rate and we did not adjust it.  Had we done so, the 34% increase a couple years ago would not have been necessary.  Even with that increase, the rate is still lower now than it was when I first entered office in 2015.  We must do a better job of managing the rate and avoid stark increases or decreases.  That’s the lesson learned from rapidly increasing property values that we must not make again.”

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

“It’s a balance, but the more major and controversial issue it is, it’s that much more critical to engage with neighbors on the issue at hand and solicit feedback.  I have always led from the perspective of being a neighborhood leader and always work hard to engage all my neighbors and help educate on the issues and solicit feedback on how to proceed.  We elect our leaders to lead and they should be able to substantiate and communicate clearly how they vote.  If elected officials do their jobs well, while we may not always agree on how they vote, we should always expect that they go above and beyond to engage their constituents on issues and ensure they have robust input to guide how they vote.”

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

“It’s a critical relationship that needs more proactive measures to work together.  Too many of the State’s actions against Nashville are rooted in extremist politics and we must push back and protect and represent our constituents where necessary.  But, as Nashville is the economic engine of the State and produces roughly 35% of it’s GDP, the State should be focusing their efforts on supporting our efforts to manage growth and our economy, and continue to help us make critical investments in education, infrastructure, and the needs of our people.  Instead, we find ourselves at loggerheads over these very same critical issues, so being on any sort of fundamental same page has been difficult.  I hope we can find ways to work together in a more pragmatic and less political way in the future.”

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

“We have to elevate the conversation about meeting the intersection of transit and affordable housing.  We cannot talk about one without the other, because they are intrinsically linked.  If we are going to improve the quality of life of residents and balance growth and preservation, we must do better about following the NashvilleNext plan of investing in our critical Tier 1 centers where growth and density can occur around regional transit centers.  I attempted to create the first ever use of the Transit Oriented Development District in Donelson where affordable housing could be supported around Donelson Station.  While we can continue to fund the Barnes Fund for creation of affordable housing, the non-profit sector cannot do it alone.  We have to find ways of making the numbers work for for-profit developers to create and maintain affordable housing around regional transit hubs.”

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

“Dedicated funding is critical and without it, we can’t successfully begin to build a regional transit system.  WeGo can continue efforts at investing in those growing areas where ridership is strong and where the greatest need is.  I’d like to see WeGo be more aligned with the development community on the front end so we can integrate transit infrastructure better with private developments.”

Second quarter campaign finance disclosure

Raised: $62,276

Spent: $33,525

Cash on hand: $199,524

Link to full disclosure here

Pre-General campaign finance disclosure

Raised: $17,220

Spent: $25,578

Cash on hand: $191,166

Link to full disclosure here