Candidate: Tonya Esquibel
Metro Council District 17
Occupation: “I am a loan officer for cross country mortgage specializing in first time home buying.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “none”
Community experience: “I serve my community everyday in my job by educating the power of home ownership. I have devoted my life to helping others build wealth by getting into the market. involved with local charities throughout the years. Some of which include End Slavery, volunteering at Youth Life Learning Center, and is a Donor for Wounded Warriors. In 2019 Tonya was awarded as the leading individual fundraiser for Tennessee Voices.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“As a member of the Council, my top three priorities would be:
Public Safety Initiatives with our first responders:
Ensuring the safety and well-being of our community is of utmost importance. By supporting our first responders, including providing resources, training, and competitive compensation, we can enhance public safety and emergency response capabilities.
Addressing the affordable housing crisis is crucial to promote equitable access to housing for all residents. By implementing initiatives such as affordable housing programs, incentives for developers, and exploring innovative solutions, we can work towards providing affordable and sustainable housing options for individuals and families in our city.
Investing in education is vital for the future of our community. By prioritizing funding and resources for schools, we can support quality education, ensure adequate facilities, and provide opportunities for academic and personal growth for our students. Collaboration with educational institutions and community organizations will be crucial in achieving this goal.In terms of spending priorities, it would be important to consider the following:
Raise for police officers:
Ensuring competitive salaries and benefits for our police officers can attract and retain qualified professionals, contributing to effective law enforcement and community safety.
Better community transit and roads:
Investing in infrastructure, including public transit and road improvements, is essential to enhance transportation options, alleviate congestion, and support economic growth. Seeking federal resources and grants can help fund these initiatives and minimize the burden on the city’s budget.
It is important to note that these responses provide a brief overview, and further detailed planning and collaboration with fellow Council members, community stakeholders, and experts in respective fields would be necessary to effectively address these priorities and make informed decisions for the benefit of our city.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“I believe that the future plans of the fairgrounds are the biggest issue currently facing our district. To approach this issue, I would prioritize learning and listening to the concerns of our constituents and engaging with other community leaders who have a stake in this matter.
By actively seeking input and understanding the perspectives of residents, businesses, and community organizations, we can gather valuable insights and ensure that decisions regarding the fairgrounds are made with the best interests of our district in mind. Open communication and collaboration will be essential in this process.
Additionally, I would strive to foster a strong relationship with our Metro Police Department. By working together closely, we can address any potential public safety concerns associated with the fairgrounds and develop appropriate measures to ensure the well-being and security of our district.
Ultimately, my approach to the future plans of the fairgrounds in District 17 would involve actively engaging with the community, listening to concerns, and collaborating with stakeholders to make informed decisions that benefit our district as a whole.”
Much of the city’s developmental focus, like plans for a new East Bank, have focused on downtown. What’s your vision for downtown?
“I firmly believe in the importance of sustainable growth for our city. When considering plans that bring additional tourists into our city, it is crucial to address concerns related to safety and traffic. By carefully assessing the impact on these aspects, we can ensure that our city continues to provide a safe environment for residents and visitors while managing increased traffic effectively.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“The Titans deal is undoubtedly a significant financial decision. However, in my opinion, the long-term benefits to the city’s amenities make it a worthwhile investment. To my understanding, if we had left things as they were, the city would have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs. It would have amounted to an expensive, short-term solution to the growth challenges we currently face in Nashville.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“Yes, I believe Metro needs more police officers beyond the unfilled positions, especially considering the development of new attractions in our city. It is crucial that our police officers are adequately compensated, as compared to other cities across the nation, we are significantly underserving our police force. By increasing the number of officers, we can enhance public safety, address the needs of our growing community, and effectively respond to the demands of the new attractions. Furthermore, providing competitive compensation to our police officers will help attract and retain talented individuals, ensuring a strong and dedicated force that can effectively serve and protect our city.”
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 wholeheartedly support the implementation of License Plate Readers (LPRs) as an instrumental tool for enhancing the safety and protection of our citizens. It is important to clarify that LPRs are not intended as traffic violation devices, but rather as a means to monitor registered vehicles and their owners.
By employing LPR technology, we can establish an additional layer of surveillance that will significantly contribute to improved response times in our community. When individuals find themselves in need of assistance, whether during emergencies or when reporting suspicious activities, LPRs can aid law enforcement agencies in identifying and locating vehicles quickly.
The utilization of LPRs can assist in various situations, such as identifying stolen vehicles, tracking down suspects involved in criminal activities, or locating missing persons. The data collected by these systems can provide valuable leads and evidence to support investigations, ultimately enhancing public safety.
It is essential to emphasize that the implementation of LPRs should be accompanied by appropriate safeguards and policies to protect individual privacy rights. Striking a balance between security and privacy is of utmost importance to ensure that these technologies are used responsibly and in compliance with legal and ethical standards.
Facial recognition surveillance has the potential to enhance security measures in downtown areas by aiding in the identification of individuals involved in criminal activities, preventing incidents, and ensuring the safety of residents and visitors. The ability to quickly identify potential threats can significantly contribute to maintaining a secure environment.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“Examining our budget to identify unnecessary spending is crucial, especially considering the existing affordability challenges faced by homeowners in Davidson County. Another property tax increase in four years could compound the burden of higher mortgage payments for residents. It is vital to carefully consider the potential consequences such decisions may have on homeowners in Davidson County.”
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 Councilwoman, I firmly believe that understanding the concerns of our district’s residents and actively working towards solutions is a fundamental aspect of leadership. By fostering a sense of community and collaboration, we can harness our collective strength and effectively address the challenges we face. Together, we can create positive change and make our district an even better place to live and thrive.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“As a Council member, it is crucial to establish effective communication channels between the city council, mayor’s office, and the state to address concerns and challenges. By fostering open dialogue and proactive engagement, we can work towards repairing any adverseness and finding collaborative solutions. Building strong relationships and finding common ground with state representatives will be essential in advocating for our community’s needs and effectively addressing the challenges we face. Together, we can create a more cooperative and productive environment for the benefit of our constituents.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“In the Council, one of the key roles in addressing affordable housing is collaborating with construction agencies and understanding the challenges related to increased fees and permit delays. The rising cost of land has contributed to escalating home prices, making affordable housing a pressing issue. With my extensive experience in helping families find homes for over 28 years, I believe I am the best candidate to bring forth viable solutions and actively work towards making affordable housing a reality. By leveraging my expertise and advocating for practical measures, we can take significant strides towards achieving affordable housing in our community.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“As a Councilwoman, I fully recognize the importance of accessible and reliable public transportation for all individuals, including those with disabilities. WeGo Access, as a publicly funded paratransit service, plays a crucial role in providing specialized transportation for people who are unable to use fixed-route transit services.
To ensure the seamless provision of services, I would actively listen to the opinions and concerns of my constituents regarding WeGo Access. By understanding their needs and experiences, I can advocate for improvements and work towards making WeGo services the most efficient and effective transportation option for those who rely on it.
Collaboration with transit authorities, disability advocacy groups, and relevant stakeholders will be essential in identifying areas for enhancement and implementing necessary changes. Together, we can strive to create an inclusive and accessible transportation system that meets the needs of all residents in our community.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $63,905
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $23,964
Link to full disclosure here