Candidate: Clay Capp
Metro Council District 6
Occupation: “I have spent most of my career as a public defender, representing the accused who cannot afford to pay for representation, and seeking to uphold due process and the fair administration of justice. I am not employed by the Public Defender’s office during this campaign season.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “None”
Community experience: “I began my community experience as a volunteer with Metro Parks, and the work of my career has always been at the local community level. I am also on the board of the Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association, and am a member of Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“1. Maximum support for public education in Nashville.
2. Unapologetically standing up for the rights of Nashvillians when threatened by our State Legislature.
3. Building the East Bank as a mixed-use neighborhood for Nashvillians, with housing and transit, and not as a tourist zone.
4. I’ll add a fourth! Supporting Shelby Park and Bottoms, which is an absolutely amazing community asset.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“District 6 is unique because the most important issue for us is also of great interest to the entire region. What happens next on the East Bank will be felt for generations.
The East Bank is a once-in-a-century opportunity, a huge swath of land right in the middle of the city, and I don’t want us to squander that opportunity by turning it into another tourist zone. I want it to be a place where musicians and bartenders live and can walk to work, where young families want to raise their kids, where we plan for a middle school instead of a gambling hall. The great urban neighborhoods of the world came alive because they were open to everyone, and that matters more for our long-term shared prosperity than anything with a neon sign.”
Much of the city’s developmental focus, like plans for a new East Bank, have focused on downtown. What’s your vision for downtown?
“The East Bank is part of East Nashville. Evidently some planners and developers want it to become like Broadway—but it must become an East Side neighborhood. What we do there will speak loudly to what kind of city we are going to be, but it is also a neighborhood issue for us on the East Side. To me, those point in the same direction: rather than building it into a Broadway-style tourist zone, we need to build the East Bank as a real mixed-use neighborhood with significant affordable housing, and one that is friendly to transit with an emphasis on east-west connections across the river. We can’t have our congestion get worse than it already is and choke the East Side off from the rest of the city, and we definitely can’t have party buses rolling down Shelby and Eastland.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“No – not the way it went down. It is disappointing that the Council approved it without finding out what our obligations would amount to under the current lease. That seems to me to be essential to know.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“We need to fully staff the police department, just as we need to fully staff all of our Metro departments. Public safety is a critical function of local government. As for more staffing, that would require weighing the reasons for requested new positions, and the cost. Relatedly, I’d be interested to see increased personnel with specialized training to respond to mental health calls.”
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?
“The current LPR deal was not properly vetted. It is another example of the Mayor’s office rolling over the Council, which approved that pilot program without even knowing who the vendor would be. As for facial recognition technology, it is nowhere near reliable enough to use for a governmental purpose.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“It is important for a Council Member to keep an open mind because a lot can happen in four years (as we’ve seen over the last four) but if we are presented with a vote to raise taxes I would be looking for guarantees of significant support to public education and meaningful progress on building more affordable housing.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“Being a Council Member is fundamentally a representative role, which means listening to the people of the district, but it also involves bringing information back to the district, about, for example, conditions elsewhere in the county. It means being motivated by the District’s concerns, but it also involves making judgments about how to achieve the District’s goals, through, for example, compromise with other Council Members, and then explaining those judgments and being accountable for them to the voters of the district.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“I absolutely oppose the General Assembly’s attacks on self-government in Nashville. And we need to do everything we can to stand up for ourselves. Sometimes there seems to be a presumption that Nashville has done something wrong in this situation. But we haven’t. And the attacks on self-government are of a piece with the State’s attacks on reproductive rights and their anti-drag legislation. The only dignified thing to do when fundamental rights are targeted is stand up for them in every way that we lawfully can. We shouldn’t seek conflict, and must always work within the law, but we also must be unafraid to articulate and sustain the American values of freedom and equality.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“We need to build more housing! This needs to happen along major corridors, on metro-owned land, and the East Bank is also an important place where affordable housing ought to be built. We also need to support the Barnes Fund and other affordable housing initiatives in town, and we need to do a better job of getting information to people who are eligible for tax abatement programs, to help keep them in their homes.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“Yes: we cannot grow sensibly as a city without tackling transit. But the details are important. Recent efforts to improve our transit system have failed, and the challenge going forward will be basically political rather than technical. It will not be enough for districts close to downtown to favor transit upgrades; it will require building a countywide coalition. WeGo has made impressive use of their limited resources, and supporting them to do more—making bus routes more frequent, building more bus shelters, and improving service throughout the county—will help demonstrate how transit upgrades can make our whole city more livable.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $54,942
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $27,516.34
Link to full disclosure here