Candidate: Sean Parker
Metro Council District 5
Occupation: “I currently work part-time in event production. In the past I have run a bike shop, managed campaigns, worked in kitchens, and delivered thousands of parcels via bicycle.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “Metro Council District 5”
Community experience: “What really got me into Metro politics was the community-led efforts to save Metro General and establish the Community Oversight Board in 2018. I served on the board of East Hill Neighborhood Association before being elected to council in 2019. I’ve volunteered and worked on several campaigns. I have been active in advocating for bike and pedestrian safety. For the last four years I have attended 5-7 neighborhood association meetings per month.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“Constituent service. When I first ran I did not realize how much of the job is being a glorified customer service rep. We face a lot of tough debate and decisions as councilmembers but helping a constituent solve an issue is an unequivocally good thing and I hope to continue being in a position to do that.”
“Affordability. Nashville’s success is placing enormous strain on our citizens’ pocketbooks and we can do much more to make our city affordable. Under my leadership as Affordable Housing Chair, we put more money into housing than any prior year. We need to shore up what works, enable more missing middle housing, and work toward a sustainable and scalable social housing model.”
“Safety. Strong, well-resourced communities are what keep us safe. We need to overhaul our dangerous corridors and make transit, cycling, and walking viable for more people. We need to invest in social resources and civilian traffic enforcement so MNPD can focus on violent and serious crime.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“Affordability, gentrification, and displacement. These mean different things for different households. I’ve supported two major, high-quality affordable housing developments in the district. I’ve stood with my constituents as they’ve faced displacement and helped position them to win meaningful concessions. I’ve legalized shared housing. I led Metro’s effort to raise the property tax freeze income limit for seniors and disabled people.
I’ve got a track record of making an impact on affordability and I hope to continue this 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?
“Nashville’s downtown entertainment district has proven to be a tremendous success. We need to ensure it can co-exist with a thriving business and office environment. More people are calling downtown home than ever before and those folks deserve a safe neighborhood. The East Bank presents an opportunity to build out a livable, affordable neighborhood and not just an extension of the downtown entertainment district and we’ve got to get it right.
As the only member serving where East Nashville meets downtown that is not term limited, I hope to bring experience and institutional knowledge to the conversation about how the East Bank will be developed.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“I voted against the financing deal. It is far too favorable to the team. We traded a bad deal with 7 years left to go for a worse deal with 30-45 years left to go.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“I think we ask too much of MNPD. We can move to civilian traffic enforcement, build out our mental health response program, bolster downtown partnership staffing, and add social workers so our sworn officers are able to focus on serious and violent crime.
I don’t know exactly what that looks like but it means more detectives working violent and serious crimes and fewer sworn officers directing traffic outside football games and policing over-consumption on Broadway.”
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 am generally opposed to building up surveillance infrastructure. We brought up concerns about misuse and unintended consequences given that we are in an anti-immigrant, forced-birth state during debate. The proponents never had good answers for these concerns and I don’t see how one can just shrug that off.
Their efficacy is also limited by the simple fact that criminals will adapt. They will swap or remove license plates. They will wear masks. Once this becomes widely understood among criminals, it’s efficacy will drop.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“The rate will be adjusted in concert with the 2025 property reassessment. State law expressly requires an adjustment following assessments to prevent overburdening taxpayers and governments from collecting windfall revenues.
That assessment will capture the pandemic property boom so I doubt that keeping the rate where it is will be appropriate, it will probably need to come down. There are several variables that will impact where it lands. Two important ones are 1) the overall state of the economy. If there is a recession people will cut back on leisure spending and travel which would have a big impact on Nashville’s tax collections. And 2) how much one-time Federal spending we decide is worth continuing with general fund dollars. One example, if we look back in a couple years at the homelessness programs we’ve enacted with ARP money and determine that it’s been a tremendous success as getting our neighbors into housing then it would be very difficult to end that program.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“My job is to research issues and listen to my constituents. There is often not consensus or anything resembling it on a particular issue among district constituents. I work very hard to be able to communicate with folks why I am taking a given position or why I might disagree with them. You can’t please all the people all the time.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“There are basically two schools of thought there. One that Nashville exists at the pleasure of the General Assembly and they can basically do as they like to us. The other is that Nashville is a creature of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee and we are afforded all the rights and protections thereof.
I subscribe to the latter school of thought.”
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 an enormously important role here. District members are generally the shepherds of zoning within their districts. Zoning defines how much and what type of housing can be built in a given area. Pro-housing councilmembers have a responsibility to engage with their communities to win support for good projects.
Metro also can play a more direct role in the multifamily rental market. I am a supporter of the social housing model of mixed-income housing because it is more sustainable and scalable than subsidy models. I encourage anyone who would like to discuss that to reach out to me.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“I’d love to see the Trinity Ln crosstown route become a reality. Expand service hours so more of our hospitality and industrial workers can utilize transit. Dedicated-lane BRT should be implemented on our highest ridership lines — this can be done in tandem with pedestrian and cycling safety improvements. I’d love to get the McFerrin line back.
I support dedicated transit funding 100%.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $13,238
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $0
Link to full disclosure here