Candidate: Eric A. Patton
Metro Council District 11
Occupation: “Director of Client Relations at a CPA firm”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “None”
Community experience: “Years of work in the LGBTQ community, mainly with the Human Rights Campaign. Also, I am a board member, currently on leave due to running for office, from our local Old Hickory Neighborhood Association.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“Safer, well-funded schools
Improved city services
Support for local small businesses”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“We need to get back to the basics. Stop focusing on skylines and stadiums. Focus on tackling the homeless encampments and finding real solutions for those affected. Paying our teachers and police. The normal, everyday stuff that’s been neglected for so long.”
Much of the city’s developmental focus, like plans for a new East Bank, have focused on downtown. What’s your vision for downtown?
“Plenty of folks are focusing on downtown and have been for far too long. It’s left everywhere else neglected. If someone wants to put something else downtown, it must benefit the rest of us in some form or fashion. I understand that it is a significant economic engine. But the fuel that runs that engine is the people who live in districts like mine. We need to start seeing some of the return on investment that has come from our money and labor. Any deal made for downtown needs to now include a serious conversation about where you will house those workers and how they will get to and from that job.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“I was one of the few people running that spoke out against it at the third reading. The deal was rushed and could have been beneficial for all of Nashville, the flow meeting Council members decided they wanted to put their faith in the Cooper administration instead of listening to their constituents. If I had been on the council, I would’ve demanded more money come back to the city in the form of housing and transit. And I would’ve demanded that the old PSC metals site be moved as well.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“Yes. There are nowhere near enough police officers in Nashville. I do not want to get to a place where we are over-policed, but the fact that you can call 911 and not get a response and that be something we accept as a city is unacceptable. There are usually under ten officers per shift at the Hermitage police precinct. That is ridiculously dangerous and needs to change.”
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 mixed on this. I do appreciate the good things that have come, like the man they found with fentanyl and guns, but I also want to make sure the intellectual property is ours, not anyone else’s. I don’t want ICE using it to harass undocumented workers. But as long as it’s being used responsibly, I think it’s reasonable to have. We need to tighten our cyber security around it and have frequent checks and balances. But I think it’s off to proving that it’s a responsible, necessary program.
And similarly, facial recognition is good in theory. But I also know that facial recognition has a high error rate with people of color, resulting in false arrests. If there’s a way it can be done responsibly, I’m happy to have that conversation.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“This mayor has really enjoyed using one-time funds to operate everyday needs. You can’t do that responsibly. I will tell you that I will be fiscally responsible with whatever hits my desk because I’m a taxpayer myself. I’m not going to say for certain one way or the other with the caveat that I’m going to do what I can to make sure we don’t have to go that route.
But if I’m told, “Either we raise by 5% now or 30% in four years,” like this mayor and the previous council were told, I’m going to listen. I hope it doesn’t come to that, and will do everything in my power to make sure Nashville remains an affordable property tax city. But I will not put the future of Nashville in jeopardy for a campaign promise.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“If my district elects me, we’re going to work together. I’m going to listen and find all compromises that I can. If I believe in something, we’ll find the common ground. I’m going to lead for my district, not for just myself.”
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 need to work together. As someone who is LGBTQ, I imagine I’ll be in the Assembly fighting for what’s right for the LGBTQ community and the District. We’re all in this boat together. I’m going to work with both sides of the aisle in the council and the legislature to make sure that we’re taking care of everyone. State overreach can be quelled if we’re talking to each other and working together. I’m committed to doing that.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“Incentives and working with property owners and developers to find solutions. We need to find the places we can add density. I would also like to find some one-time funding for first-time homebuyers to purchase homes in districts that need new homeowners like they do in the Megan Barry administration.. I also think we need to really look at the short-term rental market and make sure that the types of homes that are short-term rentals are not better suited for people to live in full-time.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“It’s time to start talking rail. And absolutely, WeGo needs guaranteed, dedicated funding. We don’t even have bus service in Old Hickory Village. Transit needs to be a major priority of the next council. We need to talk about transit again. Real solutions that include service to places that are not just downtown. Services that are across town connectors. They are common solutions to be found, and we need to find them and fast. Especially if we’re putting in a new stadium with a massive lack of parking.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $27,467
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $29,068
Link to full disclosure here