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EQUITY

Creating Opportunity for All
A Commitment to a More Equitable Nashville 

To become a truly progressive city, every policy decision should focus on creating equity for all residents. As mayor, I will fight to ensure that every neighborhood and school receives the resources necessary to address its unique challenges. Every Nashvillian, no matter their income or zip code, should be able to take advantage of the immense opportunities that our city has to offer.

Immigration
Nashville is home to thousands of individuals who moved here in search of a better life. We are an incredibly diverse city, and protecting our immigrant communities is essential to protecting the character of our neighborhoods. While Nashville is banned by state law from becoming a sanctuary city, we can still support those who have chosen to make Nashville their home by making city services readily available in a multitude of languages and restoring trust between residents and Metro government. Furthermore, the recent strong-arm tactics exhibited by ICE have no place in Davidson County. As mayor, I will ensure that the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department expends no local resources to assist ICE unless explicitly required by federal law to do so. Nashville must be a welcoming city where all people are able to prosper and thrive. 

LGBTQ+
Nashville needs specific protections for our LGBTQ+ residents, despite our regressive state laws that keep us from instituting human rights ordinances, such as those adopted by many peer cities that prohibit housing, workplace, and other forms of discrimination. We need to strengthen Metro's legal department so that it is better equipped to fight against discriminatory behavior and challenge state laws that endanger the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ individuals. We also need to continue to encourage the private sector to be inclusive of all workers and put more pressure on the state to change its laws.

Youth Violence
In 2018, a total of 559 youths were charged with a serious crime. 27 of them were 13 years old. A majority of these children are minorities, and an overwhelming majority of these children also suffer from mental illness or have suffered an adverse childhood experience. We, as city leaders, have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “How are we failing Nashville’s most vulnerable children?” Our future is dependent upon the next generation.  We must do more to support our children in Metro schools and steer them into safe, positive, learning environments outside of the classroom. In schools, students should have access to the counselors and mental health professionals they need. Crisis intervention teams must be available to timely respond to students’ needs and de-escalate situations.

Our city is blessed with many youth-focused non-profits and faith-based organizations that have the capacity and desire to provide substantive, before- and after-school programming. As mayor, I will work with these groups to organize and streamline available services and do a better job of channeling students directly from their schools to these programs. Together, as a community, we can break the school to prison pipeline. The 2016 Nashville Youth Violence Summit Report told us where to start. Now, it’s time for leadership and action.

37208 NOW
To combat the stigma of having the highest incarceration rates in the county, the creation of a 37208 task force committed to developing deep root strategies that reduce crime and increase community engagement is a critical priority. I  will work with stakeholders within this community on a consistent basis through roundtable discussions and frequent communication with neighborhood leaders. The task force will monitor the state of criminal justice in Nashville as benchmarked by the progress in this zip code. 

Public Education
Chronically underfunded and understaffed, our MNPS school district serves nearly 86,000 students. Approximately 70% of those students are brown and black children, many who attend some of the most critically underfunded schools in our city. This is a severe injustice. As both a recipient of a public education and a proud parent of MNPS students, I am committed to ensuring that every school gets the resources it needs to create an incredible educational experience for all children, regardless of their zip code. Ensuring a strong public education system should be the number one priority for Metro government. Providing a child with a strong education can’t be quantified, as it’s the single most effective investment we can make to overcome our city’s systemic barriers to economic prosperity. The money we spend on our public schools is more than just a line item in our budget -- it is a direct investment in the future of our city.  Recognizing that some communities in Nashville have been more adversely affected by the chronic underfunding of our schools, particularly in the North Nashville communities, I will partner with the Director of Schools to develop specific goals and procedures to increase equity across our city. 

Affordable Housing
Increasing access to affordable housing for low income and working families is essential to Nashville’s future. It also protects Nashville’s greatest strength -- its diversity. No neighborhood should be off-limits to anyone. Affordable and workforce housing should be built throughout our county so that we are creating inclusive, sustainable, and diverse neighborhoods. Homeownership is the primary tool for an individual to build personal wealth, and we need to facilitate the upward mobility of all families across Nashville through affordable housing.

Public Transportation
Transit equity is a vital tool to support working families in Nashville. Increased access to public transportation, routes that connect neighborhoods, and protected services for our senior citizens is an essential step towards building a 21st-century transportation plan. To manage our city’s large-scale transit improvements, I will establish an Office of Mobility within the Mayor’s Office. Staff will be tasked with monitoring and executing traffic and transit management, and oversee a revenue-generating referendum within my first term. This office will work with the Departments of Public Works and Planning to increase efficiency, transparency, cross-departmental communication, and accountability when it comes to transportation-related policy decisions. The vision of this office will be to promote a more multi-modal future for Nashville while ensuring both transit equity and pedestrian safety.

This is a working document based on feedback from thousands of residents across Nashville. Have an idea? Contact us at info@johnrayclemmons.com.