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Take a second here to tell us who you are.

So my name is Olivia Hill. I was born and raised in Nashville. I grew up in West Meade. Until I think it was ‘79 when we moved to Bellevue, and with the exception of the 10 years I was in the Navy. I’ve lived within six miles.

Why did you want to run for council at large?

One of the biggest reasons I want to and the reason I want to for at large is from my experience, because I want to help Nashville’s underground grow at the same rate. Everybody’s trying to grow the above ground, because people understand Nashville’s traffic, and they understand how much traffic has slowed down. And with all the people that’s moved here, the same thing has happened, all our utilities, so power, water, storm, drain, sewers, internet phone service has all slowed down. And that’s my expertise.

We have a lot of power outages, is there a problem with our grid?

No, I don’t think there’s a power problem with our grid. I think that there’s certain areas that have been slightly overloaded due to growth. And that’s one of the areas that I want to work on the most. I know that I’ve been talking about power issues for last few years. And everybody’s like “Olivia, there’s no problem with power. The lights are always on, this is not California,” and then we had Christmas. And it really brought a lot of attention to a lot of people. And so that’s another one of the reasons why I’m running into is because NES is their own separate little entity. 

And so would that be your top priority on the next council?

Utilities? The infrastructure is my number one priority. That’s my expertise.

You have talked a lot about the fact that you would be the first trans woman to serve on the metro Council. How do you think that perspective could help you lead the city in the right direction, given the climate that we have right now in the state?

Well, to be honest with you, I’m running as Olivia Hill, the qualified person and a qualified candidate. The fact that I’m trans is just something that another part about me, I’m not running to be the first trans woman in Tennessee history to ever hold an elected office. I’m not running for the first trans person to do anything. I’m running as a capable woman to be able to do a job.

But you bring a unique perspective. You’ve gotta admit that.

I do. I do. 

And what should people know about what’s happening with the state and Metro and the attitudes of people at present?

Well, you know, it’s one of the things that I have tried so very hard with this entire campaign is to shine as much light away from the fact that I’m trans. Because I worked at Vanderbilt. I was in the Navy for 10 years. And by trade, I’m a plumber, Pipe Fitter welder, high voltage electrician, diesel mechanic, jet engine mechanic, bowler specialist. I was union shop steward. I’m a union member for 20-plus years, I even helped design a control system that’s currently running Vanderbilt power plant now. And so I am fully capable of doing this job. I am and that is why I’m running and the fact of how the state feels about me does not deter me from running. And I stand up for trans rights and trans folks, but I have learned in my transition, that I fight more for women’s rights than I do for anything, because I have learned so much in my transition.

Do you think there are things though, that a local government can do for populations that maybe are not served well, by local government?

I think well, it’s one of the main reasons why I got into local politics is, as I started a few years ago, I learned how much more important local politics is, instead of big politics, because if you want the pothole in front of your house, taking care of your trash or your taxes, or who’s going to be on a school board, and who’s the sheriff, and who’s who your attorneys, and I mean, who your judges are. Those are the most important things that affect all of us. And that was the main reason why I decided to run and I think that, that yes, they can, they can affect an awful lot of things.

Given your background and the fact that you’ve analyzed a lot of big systems: Transit, what are we going to do? And have you got a concrete idea to put on the table?

I tell everybody, Nashville really is Atlanta. 1983. And those of us are old enough to remember how Atlanta really stumbled the first couple of years, and then they had some sewer issues and water issues. And then they work through that and they took off. And I think the same thing is with transit. I don’t think that transit is something that we should look at and consider maybe looking at, I think it’s something we need to do on day one, I think that we’re behind where we need transit. One of my collateral duties at Vanderbilt is I paid the WeGo bill because Vanderbilt, employess ride for free. And it was always a very small number because it’s not really accessible to most people that work second, third shift, weekends, nights. And so we need to expand the bus system so that it’s seven days a week and covers more area. I live in Bellevue on the backside of Bellevue in [District] 35 and we don’t have public transit at out there. 

Likely there will be a referendum again, at least another attempt, where do you think funding could come from for a grand transit plan?

You know, I would my ultimate goal is to be able for us to sit with the state and connect with the state and be able to pass some things up and get along and get the state involved. I think that it’s something that’s very achievable. I’ve learned anything at all in life is you can’t push a rope. And you have to be able to sit down with folks and work with them. I think that we also need to sit and meet with all the surrounding mayors and other counties and work with him as well, because most of the people are a lot of people that work in Nashville live outside of the area. Because a lot of people do service jobs, and a lot of our police and fire cannot afford to live in Nashville. And so they all live in outside areas.

So you foresee a regional approach? 

I do. 

Tell me what do you think the job description is for an at -arge council member, if you were going to write it.

it’s it’s a lot of different hats. You’re sitting up front. But you’re also to help some of the other districts when they have issues. Somebody gets overloaded. If somebody is out sick, you have your cover issues that cover the entire county. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to go at large instead of just in District 35. Because I believe that for me to tackle all of the utilities and infrastructure that we have, it needs to be countywide and not just in Bellevue.

Tell me how you would begin lobbying other districts if you had an idea or proposal to put forward?

Well, I’ve, I’ve been to every council meeting in the last probably six weeks, so I have already tried to start building some relationships with people. I’ve been going to a lot of the meetings about the racetrack and, and I went to the racetrack, gatherings at the racetrack so that I could learn more about what’s going on and connect with people and see who’s involved and how people are and build some relationships already.

Do you see the track project moving forward? I know, it’s kind of in a stalled position.

You know, the one thing I’ve learned is, is that a lot of the people that live in the area are not necessarily for it. And a lot of people that are for it don’t necessarily live in the area. But I remember one of the first concerts I went to was Willie Nelson is was at the at the racetrack in ‘78 I think it was somewhere in there. I’m not gonna say I’m that old. But anyway. And so I haven’t fully made up my mind yet I continue to show up at everything that I can find to listen to everybody that’s involved, and what the people in the public want in the area.

Given that sort of a controversy Are you prepared to make what might be unpopular decisions at some point in time?

If that’s what I have to do, then yes, I can make those decisions. But I really want to dive a little deeper and meet with people face-to-face and find out what their really their opinion is on what they want and what everything is involved. And then I don’t know, I haven’t been privy to all of the meetings in the background and what has all been the ground has been laid already. So I need to catch up on all that as well.

And finally, has there been a part of Nashville that you’ve discovered or maybe rediscovered that surprised you during this campaign,

Cane Ridge. Cane Ridge is an area that I don’t think I’ve ever really been too much in. It’s just a just a quaint little place. I just love it down there. I’ve been going to their monthly meetings for the last couple of months. And there’s just a wonderful group of people down there. And I’ve just, you know, the two things that I was when I made my political calls, and I called a lot of the elected officials and let them know I was running. And the two things that I was told the most is one, Olivia, you’re going to meet some of the nicest people that you will ever meet. And to you have no idea how big Davidson County is, until you campaign an entire county and both have proved very true.