I am the son of Howard, and they called him B.O., and Barbra Jean. I am a fifth of five children belong to those two born and raised reared here in Nashville. I am quintessential Nashville. I went public schools here in Nashville and graduated from Whites Creek High School in 1980. I went to pre college at Fisk University with gait which gave me a taste a taste of of college, and graduated from Tennessee State University. And a couple of times, and I’ve gotten some other I went to American Baptist College and graduated, also finishing a doctoral degree from Trevecca.
You didn’t move far though. You’ve stayed in that you said in the same general area?
Oh, absolutely. Yes. Born or born in Preston Taylor. 3510 Indiana Avenue. And my mom, my mom and pop moved from there to where my mom stays near and Haynes Manor. So and I live not far from her on Clarksville Pike. My sister is in the community. So born raised right here in Nashviille.
I’m sure you had the opportunity to leave. Why haven’t you? Well, I
All roads lead back to Nashville and I have gone. I’ve been all over the world actually. I’ve spoken in places Moscow and Russia. And I’ve been to Tokyo and I’ve been all over the world. But all roads lead back to Nashville. I remember Nashville when Nashville was family, and it was the best place to raise a child. And I love Nashville. Nashville is a great place to live.
Now, you told the Banner a while back that Nashville needs more police officers beyond just the unfilled positions. You also said no new taxes? How do those two things square?
Oh, accountability for taxes, I think Nashville is growing greatly. And the idea of taxes to me, I think people need to agree to that. Because when taxes were going up, and we were levying that tax piece, we’re going through a lot of trouble in the city. And I have a heart for our seniors. And what I understand about taxes that when you raise them, everything’s going up. I’m an educator. And getting a raise is fantastic. It’s great, but also understood that I have seniors that have to make a decision between medication or food. And so that was my piece, if we do this, let’s make sure that we have accountability for the growth that we have in the money that’s coming in. And that was my piece about no new taxes without accountability, we got to have that accountability and understand that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And so we’ve got to be responsible for all the citizens of Nashville. And then, you know, we have people moving out of Nashville greatly because rents going up and things of that nature. In terms of the police department, our children are committing some heinous crimes in the city. I believe the police department’s doing a great job with Chief Drake. We’re building relationships. But we’ve got to do more of that when I was a young man. But Officer [David] Bowenhamer knew my mom and my dad. And so we’ve got to build that kind of relationship where the police are culturally competent. And right now I believe the system is get a call, you have two police cars, if possible, they run to a run to a scene. And sometimes they don’t know the people, they’re running into scene. And they’ve got to be safe, they want to go home. But I believe that if we can surely fully fund, don’t just abandon the police department. Because if someone breaks into your home, you are going to call the police department. And we need them. We want to be safe in the city. So in that regard, building a police force that is culturally competent, that knows those people that they’re serving, I believe I believe that people begin to trust them more. And that’s from my past experience, I believe with all my heart.
What about the Community Oversight Board, something that people voted on? And it’s apparently on its way out? Well, how do we reconcile that
I am an old history teacher. Okay. And I believe this is in government government as well. I think it’s for the people and by the people if the people surely have seen this what we need. That’s what we must do. And I believe the city of Nashville need leadership and we should not be on our heels because of state government. We need to put the state on its heels and begin to absolutely organize what the city and the citizens of local government have stated. We need to absolutely do that. Call it what you want to call it. We need to do it. I need to have it.
Give me the job description of an at-large council member
Servant. A servant of every district every part of the city could be almost a balancer, are you an equalizer? A person that should indeed see a blighted portion of the city and then make a decision that’s based on the good of the whole county and not just a portion. And sometimes we need that kind of a balance.
What would be your top priority if you’re elected?
Economic equity. Let’s have growth in areas where it’s not taking place. Let’s look at Jefferson Street, for instance. And see everything is growing in Nashville. It’s great place to live. But when you see some areas of town that’s not growing, we need to understand why. If we’re bringing in large companies and giving them a a tax abatement, why can’t we pull people together who own property on Jefferson Street, all those particular areas and come up with a vision that could absolutely help them in this, give them some tax breaks?
Even all over the county? Where are other areas that seem to be lacking in opportunity?
Yeah, I think yeah. Wow, all of us all of this gallery, we could do some things. I believe Bellevue would love some diversity in terms of, of business choices, and food, places and eateries. Antioch definitely would need one thing she needs a new police station out there in Antioch. And I think that I think they have christened that. Joelton absolutely would need some particular type of development. In in the Bordeaux area, we don’t need another dump in the Bordeaux area. But you can’t find a coffee shop in Bordeaux, you can’t find it, I want to go and sit out and get a nice outdoor eatery that does not exist in Bordeaux. So just bring in those kinds of developments of economic development, it would be great.
You have talked about a $1 billion plan for affordable housing, have I got that right, billion?
My piece is this we could do. And I’ve voiced this, we could do a $2 billion deal for football. And we understand the whole football piece can bring in other monies and it will trickle down. So if we could do a $2 billion deal for football, can we do a billion dollar deal for housing, there was a time in Nashville that if you, and my heart goes out to my teachers, my teachers work here, I’m a principal at Stratford. Some of them work here, but they can’t live here. It was, we used to have a first-time buyers situation here in Nashville that if you’re a teacher, you’re a first-time buyer, then we would help the government would help you get that particular piece of property. I believe that if we would get into that idea of understanding how we could kind of subsidize that housing situation based on your income, then you can get affordable housing based on your income. And that will be a win-win situation for us. I would love for us to first to look at that and see if we can actually get that done. Because our police officers need to be able to live here, or teachers need to be able to live here. Our healthcare persons should live here in Nashville based on their income. And let’s let’s do that bring that maybe subsidizes bring down that interest rate.
Have you thought a little about where that money stream might come from?
You know, I’m believing, you know, with the money that the excess money that we have, in our budget, for the city and we’ve given some to education. And that’s been quite great that we have subsidized that, in fact, as a principal, they’ve given me the largest raise I’ve ever had in my life.
Was this past budget?
Yes ma’am. It’s the largest increase I’ve ever had. And it will help. I would say it will indeed help keeping some educators here. But I think maybe we could do some other pieces with that and help with housing in the city.
Have you had a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers and well?
Well, I’m a hard worker, and I’m the hiring principal at Stratford High School, and we are fully staffed. So you can’t wait for them to come to you. Sometimes you gotta go to them.
I would imagine salaries are the problem?
Well, salary, national salaries great. It’s a great opportunity to have recruited people from out of state to come to come here because we pay well,
If you’ve been elected, and you have an issue or a bill that you’re trying to pass, what’s your style for lobbying the district members, getting on the same page?
I think we have to have a conversation about it. Look at the pros and cons of it, look at the data. I think when being a leader, whether I’m running Kingdom Cafe or with the business I own or the school system and look at the data first and then have a conversation with those persons that are wise. If I want to open a grocery store or a large department store, I’m going to go to the Walmart people And then find out, you know, how did they do it? And what what were your ups and downs concerning it? So I would love to have that conversation, I would, I think part of my theme for the campaign is let’s shape Nashville’s future together, I think all of us are smarter than one of us. So instead of, you know, just trying to say what just do this, let’s have a conversation and synergize, let us come together. And you may have a thesis, I may have the antithesis of it. But we can indeed come together with the synthesis of it.
And so you’re running a full-time business and being a principal of a school?
How’s that work?
It works with leadership. Okay, and I pastor Fairfield Church. So, and what I’ve discovered in leadership, it’s not centered around Howard. It’s centered around building capacity and people and then giving them the opportunity to do that. I don’t cook. But, but learning systems, and putting those systems together. And monitoring those systems and having meetings and being and holding them accountable is what we do. But treating everybody with dignity and with respect, is what I would do. And that’s what I’ve done over the years.
It’s a bit of a crowded race. How do you differentiate yourself? What’s your pitch to the people?
I would differentiate myself by saying, check out my record. If we looked at my educational record, it’s second to none. With the doctoral piece, I don’t push that. But it’s second to none. If you look at my leadership record, in terms of transforming a church that used to be in South Nashville, and then having affordable housing, we created it with this faith-based agency, looking at what I’ve done with Kingdom Cafe and Grill and three, seven to eight zip code, where people have argued about and said, Well, that’s the zip code where more African Americans have gone to jail. Well, I don’t want to just fuss about what’s been, let’s begin to change it, and transform it and make it better. So that’s part of my record, and what I do, and I want to serve Nashville. So you know, I, the other day, I saw some children. During early voting time, I saw some children. They were, they were just wandering in the Bordeaux area. And I approached him and said, Hey, come, let’s put him to work. Because when I was a kid, I worked. And it kept me out of trouble. And with children just roaming without a job in the city, they’re going to get in trouble. So I got them and gave them a little stipend, little job to stand here and, and work with the people that are that are campaigning me, you know, those that are running, meet Freddie O’Connell, meet these people. And they were excited about that, okay, and kept them out of trouble. However, as soon as it was over, we understand that there was a shooting at Bordeaux library. And it was because of these kids were just doing nothing and they have guns. So I’m just saying what differentiates me is that I can have a conversation with the elite, but then I also walk with those that are in the community. And so we’ve got to do that together. And that’s what I bring to the table. And I bring heart, I am from Nashville. And I treat everybody with dignity and respect and I respect and we will make a difference here in Nashville with the council.