Candidate: Rollin Horton
Metro Council District 20
Occupation: “I work as an attorney for a large bank here in Nashville, working on business and financial law issues, before which I was in private practice focusing on corporate and partnership taxation. While not some of the most glamorous aspects of Metro Council, I think these skills are necessary to both understand and address many of the complex tax and budgetary issues facing our city.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “I’ve never held elected office before.”
Community experience: “I currently serve on the Board of the Nations Neighborhood Association and am closely involved in local infrastructure, development, and other neighborhood issues here in West Nashville.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“My top three priorities in the next council will be building more walkable and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods here in West Nashville, fully supporting and funding our neighborhood schools so that every student has the opportunity for a quality education, and ensuring that our neighborhoods remain a place where housing costs are accessible for middle class families.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“Our neighborhoods in West Nashville are in urgent need of more sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic calming features. In addition to increasing safety for pedestrians, sidewalks and other features will create more vibrant and connected neighborhoods, reduce unnecessary car traffic and congestion, and unlock new corridors for economic potential and local business growth. We can work towards this goal through a combination of public and private means, both by securing dedicated funding for pedestrian infrastructure and by encouraging smart mixed-use development with an emphasis on walkability.”
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 vibrant neighborhood and a key economic engine for Nashville. The expansion of downtown to east of the river represents a generational opportunity to build a cohesive mixed-use development area benefitting the city as a whole. Connectivity to the east into historic East Nashville neighborhoods and to the west across the Cumberland River presents an opportunity to integrate transit into redevelopment of a blighted and underutilized area of our city for the benefit and enjoyment of all Nashvillians, whether resident downtown or in one of our neighborhoods.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“I did not have a vote on the new Titans stadium financing legislation. If such a vote for a new sports stadium were put before me in the next council, such as for a potential MLB team, my vote would be guided by key principles – including that the sports franchise or other private parties must be responsible for the cost of upkeep and maintenance of the facility rather than Nashville taxpayers. Any costs allocated to the taxpayer must be kept to a minimum and paid for by clearly identified revenue streams.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“Metro’s focus at this time should be filling the current vacancies in the department before exploring whether more officers are needed beyond that.”
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?
“In considering whether to extend the license plate reader program after the expiration of the current six-month trial period, the council should critically evaluate the evidence and results of the program in solving and preventing crime against the safeguards in place to ensure that the information collected about Nashville residents is not misused or widely distributed.
I do not support the facial recognition surveillance of Nashville residents, whether downtown or in other neighborhoods.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“Council should responsibly manage our city’s finances so that a tax rate adjustment will not be necessary in the near or medium term. Rather than raise taxes, Metro should encourage the mixed-use development of current vacant or underutilized lots in our urban areas, which will generate additional economic activity and tax revenue for Metro without the need to raise taxes on current residents.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“Council members have two simultaneous and conflicting duties. First, council members have an obligation to receive, consider, and reflect the views and concerns of their constituents. At the same time, council members have an obligation to exercise their own independent judgement in considering proposals brought before the council. It’s important that council members weigh and balance both of these obligations without allowing one to take precedence without consideration of the other.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“Too many of the state’s actions targeting Nashville – attempting to shrink the size our Metro Council, seizing control of the airport authority, eliminating community oversight boards, and others – are misguided and unnecessary, cause chaos and uncertainty in our community, and destabilize our city’s finances and economy. Nashville’s response needs to balance standing up for our city where necessary, such as our lawsuit against the council shrinking bill, with cooperating with the state where possible for the benefit of our city, such as securing much-needed infrastructure investments.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“Council has a key role and responsibility to ensure that housing costs remain accessible for middle class families in Nashville. To accomplish this, Metro Council needs to take steps to increase new housing construction to keep pace with our neighborhood’s and city’s growing population. A key part of this is a greater openness to high density housing, which is generally both more affordable and can be built in greater numbers rather than solely relying on single family housing. This requires that we explore not only zoning reform, but also reviewing our lengthy procedural requirements and burdensome substantive requirements which limit our ability to build necessary housing.
In pursing more housing options for Nashvillians, it’s important that we are also mindful of residents’ concerns about excessive traffic, which can be managed by engaging residents in the decision-making process when new developments come to the neighborhood, as well as by locating high density housing along key transit corridors and investing in pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
Additionally, a disproportionate amount of job opportunities, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality industries which employ many Nashvillians, are located downtown, while much of the affordable housing that currently exists in Nashville is located in the outer ring of Davidson County. To make this housing accessible for those workers employed downtown, we need to invest in infrastructure and transit to make it practical to commute between the two areas.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“WeGo should continue to improve its outreach program to ensure that Nashvillians are aware of the transit options available, especially in the context of special events downtown which can result in excessive car traffic and congestion. WeGo should continue to be fully and adequately funded, whether from general revenue or a dedicated funding source.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $27,306
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $25,219
Link to full disclosure here