NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — This August, Nashvillians will head to the polls to vote in the Metropolitan General Election.
Earlier this year, Mayor John Cooper announced he would not be seeking re-election, creating a wide-open field of candidates in the race to be the next mayor of Music City.
One of those candidates is Fran Bush.
Bush is the Owner and Director of Model Kids Learning Academy. She is a former member of the Metropolitan Nashville School Board where she served for four years. The Nashville native received both Bachelor’s and Graduate degrees in Healthcare Administration & Planning from Tennessee State University.
News 2 submitted questionnaires to each of the candidates running for Nashville mayor. The form featured six questions addressing some of Music City’s biggest issues—including crime rates, mass transit, homelessness, and the Metro government’s current relationship with the state government. Below you will find Bush’s answers to those questions.
How would you address the homelessness issues in Nashville?
Bush: “Increase affordable housing. A shortage of affordable housing is one of the main causes of homelessness. My plan would be to work to increase the supply of affordable housing by providing incentives for developers to build more affordable units, using government-owned land for affordable housing and increasing funding for affordable housing programs. Provide supportive services, many people experiencing homelessness have mental health or substance abuse issues that need to be addressed before we can successfully transition to permanent housing. We must provide supportive services such as counseling, job training, healthcare and education to help individuals get back on their feet. Also partner with non-profit organizations, those who are boots on the ground who are in the field for our homeless community to provide additional resources and support to those in need.”
What does the future of mass transit look like in Nashville, in your opinion?
Bush: “Nashville is growing exponentially and in order to keep up with the growing population of people moving to Nashville and those who are residents. Under my plan, I would like to reintroduce light rail, increase the number of bus routes, development of safe bike lanes and other infrastructure to support active transportation for all Nashvillians. This could provide residents with more options for getting around the city and help relieve road congestion. In order to pursue the light rail, it will take proper planning and public buy-in with such a large investment and infrastructure.”
If elected, how would you work to repair the relationship between the Metro Nashville government and the state government?
Bush: “Open lines of communication are key to building a productive relationship between the Metro Government and the State Government. Both sides can try to establish more regular and open lines of communication. If I am elected, I will establish more regular and open lines of communication, such as regular meetings between the mayoral office and the state legislators to discuss issues and work towards a solution. Nashvillians are very frustrated with the lack of legislating for the people. Although there are certain areas where the Metro Government and State Government may have differences in opinion, it’s important to focus on areas such as one of our biggest issue is gun reform. Building trust is critical to repairing any strained relationships. Both sides could work to build trust by being transparent, keeping your word and committing to work collaboratively. Another very strong method of building relationships with the Metro Government and State Government could also involve community stakeholders, such as business leaders, nonprofits and civic organizations in discussions and planning around issues that affect both the city and the state.”
What would be your approach to addressing crime in the city and the increasing rate of violent crimes committed by juveniles?
Bush: “If elected, I would take a deep dive into early intervention and prevention. This could include access to mental health, substance abuse treatment, providing job training, educational opportunities and offering mentoring and support programs for at-risk youth. Another plan I will have, to invest more into our non-profit organizations who are experienced in youth restoration. Restorative justice is also an approach of repairing harm and addressing the needs of both victims and offenders. This can be more effective promoting accountability and rehabilitation. Finally, addressing the root causes of crime requires addressing economic inequality and creating opportunities for all residents to succeed, especially for our children and young adults.”
How would you address the lack of affordable housing options around the city?
Bush: “If elected, I will have a plan to increase funding for affordable housing through public-private partnerships, tax incentives and help incentivize developers to build more affordable housing developments. Inclusionary zoning policies require a certain percentage of new housing developments to be affordable to low- and moderate-income households. This can help to ensure new housing is developed in Nashville. Many low-income families in our city struggle to afford housing due to high-cost rent. Expanding access to rental assistance programs can help struggling families. Mixed-income developments that include both market rates and affordable housing can also create more diverse and inclusive communities. These developments can be supported through funding mechanisms and zoning policies that incentive mixed-income development.”
What do you believe is the biggest issue affecting Nashville and how would you plan to address it?
Bush: “One of the most pressing issues facing Nashville is affordable housing. As the city continues to grow and attract new residents, the cost of living has increased, and many people are struggling to find housing that is both affordable and meets their needs. The lack of affordable housing can lead to displacement, homelessness and other negative consequences. Another major challenge for Nashville is transportation. With growing congestion on our roads and highways, commuters face long commutes and traffic delays. By improving transportation options, such as expanding the city’s bus system or building new light rail lines, could help reduce traffic and improve mobility for residents. Both issues I have addressed in questions 1 & 2.”
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To read responses from other candidates in the race, click here.
The Metropolitan General Election takes place on August 3. A runoff will be held on September 14, if necessary.
Candidates have until noon on May 18 to qualify.