Candidate: Emily Benedict
Metro Council District 7
Occupation: “I work with buyers and sellers in the residential retail market.”
Previous candidacy/offices held: “Metro Council Member”
Community experience: “Aside from my service on Metro Council, I have volunteered with the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and served on the Nashville Steering Committee for the Human Rights Campaign. Additionally, I served on the Board of Directors for the Tri-State Minority Supplier Development Council from which I received the Impact Award for my contributions.”
What will be your top three priorities on the Council?
“Traffic Calming and Safety – Our community deserves to feel safe when walking, biking, and commuting to and from their homes. Prioritizing projects that help accomplish this is something I will continue to fight for.”
“Equitable Housing – With the rising cost of living in Nashville, city leaders must play an active role in helping longtime residents stay in place. Council members can uniquely serve as liaisons between developers and residents. Centering neighbors in these negotiations is my continued commitment to District 7.”
“Transit and Infrastructure – Infrastructure investment is critical for efficient transportation, clean water, and connected neighborhoods. We must dedicate funding to public transportation and other critical infrastructure for our city to continue growing.”
What is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
“Traffic Calming. We need to secure more funding for NDOT and bring certain projects “in-house.” Utilizing outside vendors to execute municipal projects often results in delays. We can work more efficiently if we fund NDOT, who ought to lead on traffic calming.”
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, and most Nashvillans agree, want to see a downtown Nashville that serves Nashvillians. It’s the economic engine of our city, and Nashvillians should be able to enjoy the benefits. We aren’t there yet, but we can choose to be strategic about the implementation of new developments like the East Bank and refocus on what makes Nashville a great city, and that is its people.”
Did you or would you have voted to approve the new Titans stadium financing legislation?
“While I’m not against a new stadium, I voted against the terms of this contract. I, and many of my colleagues, believed we should have slowed things down and continued negotiations in a good-faith effort to work out a better deal for Nashville, and unfortunately, we did not.”
“That said, it’s time to move forward and make sure our neighborhoods receive the community benefits we were promised.”
Does Metro need more police officers beyond the unfilled positions?
“We need to think beyond traditional law enforcement as we grow and develop a 21st-century workforce to respond to community needs and keep our families safe. Just as we need to increase support for traffic enforcement personnel, we need to make sure we have specialized teams, not necessarily officers, who can be better prepared to respond to the variety of needs seen throughout our community. It’s no secret we need to strengthen services for un-housed individuals and those suffering from mental health complications and addiction in a way that acknowledges innate human dignity and helps the most marginalized in our community.”
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?
“Government should not perform mass surveillance. This includes utilizing facial recognition technology and license plate readers. LPRs are ineffective in catching those who have broken the law. LPR doesn’t always get it right. To make it more complicated, people change out their license plates for drag-racing and in incidents of auto theft. Facial recognition technology is an invasion of privacy. It’s unwise for general public data to be collected in such a fashion, making us more vulnerable and, therefore, less safe.”
Do you think a property tax rate adjustment will be needed in the next 4 years? Why or why not?
“Yes, we will need a rate adjustment, and Nashville has some catching up to do. For example, most neighborhoods still need sidewalks. In order to build sidewalks, we have to invest in updating infrastructure, such as stormwater management. Inglewood needs a new library. MNPS will need more funding when COVID dollars expire. If we’re going to be the world-class city we aim to be, we need to start allocating funding to the amenities that make cities great—the amenities that Nashvillians benefit from having.”
Do you view your role in the Council as leading your district on issues or simply reflecting the views of the district’s residents?
“Both, but I lean more into the role of leading the district on issues. Council members have the unique privilege of providing insight into what the city is doing or plans to do and how that impacts the daily lives of Nashvillians. That said, improving our city is a two-way street. I rely on the folks in my district to communicate their concerns; this is always top of mind when I’m taking a position on any issue. When it comes time to vote, it’s my responsibility to share my position and why.”
“The apartment development at Porter and Cahal is a good example. And, it passed unopposed at council (this rarely happens). It was important to me and our community to ensure this development wouldn’t displace existing residents. Communicating with the residents was paramount before moving forward with other negotiations. We stayed in frequent communication, and as I gathered information, I passed that along between residents and the developer.”
“The outcome? A new 800-unit apartment development with the goal of 25% of units being discounted as much as 50% of the area median income.”
“Intentional communication and centering the people who live here is always the right call and, I believe, the responsibility of any elected official.”
How do you view the relationship of the city and Council to the General Assembly in the face of adverse legislation from the state?
“The Republicans who control the state legislature have declared war on the city of Nashville. Their actions are a direct threat to our democracy, our economic future, and our families.”
“It’s clear we are dealing with state politicians who are often hostile to our city, and we need to get creative on how we respond.”
“Council members have a duty and responsibility to defend our values and our right to determine Nashville’s future — without interference from state politicians.”
“But no one “wins” a war.”
“We need a balance of power if we are to accomplish what Nashvillians need and Tennesseans want.”
“Nashvillians want their local government empowered to serve – we don’t want power grabs from the state gutting our democracy.”
“Far too often, we have people who are way left or right and won’t talk to each other, but the work is always in the middle, no matter how messy and complicated it is.”
The city is experiencing an affordability crisis. What is the council’s role in creating more housing for buyers and renters in Nashville?
“I co-sponsored the Mixed-Income PILOT Program – a tax abatement program that I anticipate will be used in the abovementioned Porter and Cahal apartment development. It allows tax abatement in exchange for providing deeply discounted apartment units.”
“Additionally, the council has the ability to grow the investment in the Barnes fund, which has proven to be successful.”
“Council should do whatever it can to make Nashville an affordable and safe home for the people who built and live in the city.”
What improvements do you think WeGo should make during the next four years? Would you back creation of a dedicated funding source?
“We MUST create a dedicated revenue stream to meet the transit demand that a world-class city requires. WeGO does stellar work with the funding they receive, but they need more. If we expect people to use public transit, we must make it safe, reliable, accessible, and convenient.”
Second-quarter campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $33,039
Link to full disclosure here
Pre-General campaign finance disclosure
Cash on hand: $29,245
Link to full disclosure here