Candidate: Brian Sullivan (Sully)
Metro Council District 4
Occupation: “I am a former journalist and now I assist businesses and nonprofits with their messaging, branding and media communications through my Public Relations/Marketing business Sully Public Relations”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “This will hopefully be my first!”
Community experience: “I became a journalist because I wanted to investigate and expose injustices in our community. It was the foundation for learning about all of the wonderful advocacy groups we have in Tennessee. But I didn’t just want to report on them anymore, so when I was able to branch out into my new career path, I could stand with various groups, and so I have marched, rallied and advocated alongside them for years. My church, Covenant of the Cross, has a food pantry that serves the Madison community, I participate twice a year in the DEA’s drug takeback initiative, and other fundraising and advocacy initiatives.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“Combatting street racing in local neighborhoods in District 4
Equipping police and fire to lower response times
Managing our rapidly developing city in a way that includes and provides upward mobility for all our citizens”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“Street racing and speeding are some heavily discussed problems for District 4, and many neighbors tell me it’s difficult for them to sleep at night because of the noise. My hope is to come together as a city to resolve the Metro Police Department’s recruitment and retainment issues, increase the safety of their fleet of pursuit vehicles, study the cost and effectiveness of aerial surveillance methods, work with NDOT for awareness signs, and to put speed bumps in residential neighborhoods where necessary. We can do these things while strengthening community oversight and accountability to ensure fairness and appropriate police conduct in our neighborhoods. I don’t believe those 2 issues are mutually exclusive.”
Much of the city’s developmental focus, like plans for a new East Bank, have focused on downtown. What’s your vision for downtown?
“As anyone reading this is most likely aware, affordability in or near downtown has been an issue for years. It is my hope to ensure that the imagine East Bank proposal’s plan to work closely with the Affordable Housing Task Force is followed through to maintain downtown as a thriving, economically flourishing place to visit, work AND live.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“Originally, no. I felt as if we had more time to debate and improve the plan. However, I support the adjustments that were made, including the legislation that 25% of vendors with the stadium be small, minority and women owned businesses, and the millions of dollars it will save TSU in their athletic department holding games there. Had Nashville not approved it, we would have eventually been stuck with millions of dollars in maintaining the stadium regardless. I think as the plan moves forward, we must put local businesses, vendors and residents first to ensure that the East Bank and new stadium are a benefit to all Nashvillians, not just those who live and work downtown.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“I think with the addiction of the 9th Southeast Precinct, we need to make sure it is fully staffed, and that we are not pulling other officers from other precincts in it’s beginning stages. So, not only do we need to staff those unfilled positions at the department, but we will need to make sure the new Southeast Precinct has a fully staffed office and fleet, so that we are not losing patrol coverage by doubling up officers in one vehicle.”
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?
“From what I understand, it has led to 58 arrests so far for charges like aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, carjacking and motor vehicle theft. I believe the program is supposed to present its findings in July, and a decision will be made as to whether or not to continue. As of right now, based on my limited knowledge, I would support its renewal, but I would want to review the July report first. I am not as big a fan of facial recognition technology when it is not in extreme cases. Obviously, when there is an Amber Alert issued, or some other situation in which time is of utmost importance, I would support it. However, we have seen alleged misuse of the surveillance, for example, to locate protestors in Baltimore, which appears to be used in vast government overreach. I think it’s very important that facial recognition technology be used sparingly, and in extreme cases, not to dox someone for exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“I don’t think so, and the main reason is the booming real estate in and relocation to Nashville. I talk to real estate agents who tell me that homes and land in Nashville generate interest barely after they are posted. I think the increase in residents would make up for any shortfalls.”
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 think reflecting the views of the people of District 4 is the most important way to govern. I have enjoyed so many conversations about what our neighborhoods want and need to see. That IS leadership. I believe, however, that sometimes we are faced with deciding something against the majority of views of our constituents in extreme cases where misinformation campaigns have compromised the facts of an issue or in which a majority is attacking the dignity and respect of a minority or marginalized population. In cases like this, a leader must have the vision and foresight to make decisions that hold and value human rights, inclusivity, and equity of the utmost and urgent importance.”
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 a strong City Council that will stand up to the state when decisions are put forth that compromise our representation, such as the legislation that would cut Metro Council in half. Nashville makes up one of the largest pieces of our state’s economy. We should not be controlled and manipulated by lawmakers who do not live here. I hope to continue to challenge that legislation. Even further, in issues of dignity and human rights, Nashville should protect its citizens with all that is within our power to do when the state tries to tell our residents what they can and cannot wear, or whom they can or cannot love. We live in a diverse city that is welcoming of all races, gender identities, sexual orientations and religions, and our city council MUST protect that.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“I think with the approval of developments, businesses and zoning, we play a large role in who builds in our city, and how they can make their businesses more affordable for Nashvillians. It is important that we keep all citizens in mind when voting, from the top tier earners down to the least.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“WeGo is in the current process of reviewing is Access program, which provides services for riders with disabilities, and I think they are doing a good job of gathering feedback to improve their services for this population. I do support a creation of a dedicated funding source. We have to think about those who do not have the privilege of buying a car, and are dependent on public transit. Those people pay taxes, and they deserve a city that protects their guarantee to transportation.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $3,726
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $8,289
Link to full disclosure here