This transcript is being provided in a rough draft format. CART, Communication Access Realtime Translation, is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ELISE McMILLAN: If we could have all of the candidates make their way and all the candidates representatives make their way to the front we're about ready to get started.
And there are two candidates who haven't joined us yet.
And so we are going to go ahead and start on time and they can join us when they get here.
TRACY SMITH: Hello, everyone.
First I'd like to remind everyone and ask everyone to please silence your cell phones.
The last thing is we want some Christmas music going off in the middle of this.
Ms. Sallie, the president of Bridges, and I would like to welcome you to Bridges and to this forum organized by the Mayor's Advisory Committee of Nashville.
I work here at Bridges.
I'm also the chair of the Advisory Committee.
Special thanks of course to the candidates and to you, the citizens of Nashville and for your interest in Metro Government.
And advocating for the accessibility needs in our community.
Please look at your program for more special things and the listing of the members of our Advisory Committee.
I am delighted to introduce our moderator for this forum.
Elise McMillan and her son Will.
As a co‑director of Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence In Developmental Disabilities, Elise McMillan has more than 25 years' experience in leading programs and projects that support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Their families, and their communities.
She holds leadership roles in numerous national, state, and community disabilities organizations.
Will McMillan is a graduate of Pope John Paul II high school and Next Steps at Vanderbilt.
He works at Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt and the Green Hills YMCA.
He enjoys advocating for people with disabilities and has spoken before the Tennessee House of Representatives and in Washington, D.C. at the congressional committee hearings.
[ Applause ]
ELISE McMILLAN: Thank you, Tracy. Thanks to all of you for being here tonight.
And let's get started.
We want to give a special thanks to somebody holding a very important position tonight, Susan Jakoblew is our timekeeper.
[ laughing ]
Makes sure all the candidates can see her and her warning.
Not that anybody is over time but just in case.
WILL McMILLAN: Yes, thank you.
Before the first question, we'll give the candidates a one‑minute opportunity to introduce themselves.
We will again with Ms. Barry's representative and continue in the order in which you are seated from right to left.
LILY SHAW: Hi, everyone.
My name is Lily Shaw and I'm representing Megan Barry this evening.
I'm a 17 years old and a rising senior and an intern for Megan.
I guess it's needless to say I have a physical disability I've always been one for self advocacy. This is why I'm extremely happy to be here with all of you sharing my story and Megan's plans for the future of Nashville in regards to people living with disabilities.
[ Applause ]
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Thank you.
I'm Charles Robert Bone.
I grew up in Hendersonville near Goodlettsville.
Went to school at good pasture in Madison first through 12th grade.
Met my wife there who is from Donelson.
Went to Rhodes College in Memphis and back to law school at Vanderbilt.
I'm principally running for Mayor for two reasons.
One I think it's incredibly important that we sustain the momentum we have seen as a city and that we've experienced over the last five to ten years but I also think it's equally important that we now begin to diversify that prosperity and begin to think about how we invest in transportation, infrastructure, and affordable housing but also how do we take care of each of our citizens.
So I think it's important we keep that momentum going in order to do that and say a means to what end.
So I look forward to sharing those thoughts with you tonight and talking about these issues.
[ Applause ]
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: First I'd like to thank Bridges for hosting this tonight and also for allowing third stringers like me to come in and ‑‑ I'm a football fan, so I might get some football things later.
But I'm here representing David Fox.
And so David speaks a lot about the growth in Nashville and how even though we've grown so much, we've been able to maintain our civility, our friendliness, and our welcoming attitude.
And so ‑‑ and we're now kind of at a point to where the growth seems to be jeopardized by what we call ‑‑ the Nashville way is being jeopardized.
And so that welcoming attitude, that welcoming atmosphere is about to roll out on us.
So what ‑‑ so we ‑‑ what David intends to do is to shore up our infrastructure, to protect our Nashville way, and also try to do that in a fiscally conservative way.
And he feels like we can do this, and I got to stop.
And so thank you.
[ Applause ]
BRENDA GILMORE: So good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Brenda Gilmore and in the city I'm a state representative and tonight I'm representing Bill Freeman, candidate for Mayor.
He regrets that he cannot be here tonight.
He had previously promised another organization this spot and that's why he's not here.
He does recognize how important this community is and I hope as we go throughout the program that you will find how much he values the community.
I want to give a special thanks to Bridges and Sallie Hussey, the president, for hosting this as well as members of the Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities.
And all those parents and guardians out there who have loved ones, a special shout out to you.
To a few people I saw, Megan Hart who works at Vanderbilt University, I want to give her a special shout‑out she's in the audience and also H.K. who is not here.
But I met him about a year ago ‑‑ okay.
A special shout‑out to him as well.
[ Applause ]
JEREMY KANE: Good evening.
My name is Jeremy Kane and I'm happy to be here tonight.
Thank you to Bridges for hosting this important event for our city and for this conversation.
And just to tell you briefly about my background and if I have any time, a few more issues before jumping into the questions.
My family is not from Nashville.
We chose to move here 30 years ago and I always say that my father and mother only knew three things about Nashville.
They knew they could afford a home.
I grew up in south Nashville, they could send me and my brother and sisters to public schools, Granbury and Glendale.
My father who is a minister could build the kind of church he wanted to build and I'm running for Mayor after starting and founding and leading LEAD public schools.
Five charter public schools because 30 years from now I want my daughter and everyone in this room and your children and grandchildren to be able to answer those same three questions, that Nashville is still an affordable place to live, it's still a place where we can all choose to send our children, in my case my grandchildren to the schools of her choice, and a place we can build the kind of lives we want.
That's the ultimate reason I got involved in education.
I'm not an educator.
It's about access and opportunity.
I look forward to talking more about that in the course of this evening.
[ Applause ]
LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: You mind if I stand up so I can see everybody in the back?
Hello, I'm Linda Eskind Rebrovick, and I am thrilled to be here.
You know, I'm a life‑long Nashvillian.
I'm actually a fourth generation of the Eskind family and I'm very proud of that.
I am excited about the opportunities for Nashville.
We're in a fantastic place.
But I am running on a vision of making Nashville even smarter.
I want to make sure that we have a city that continues to grow, but it's a city that works with education, transportation, safety, housing, and quality of life for everyone.
And that is the most important thing for our city.
I will work very hard to make sure that happens.
I went to H.G. hill and Hillwood, so I grew up in the public school system.
I'm the mother of twins and a daughter of Jean Eskind.
I am excited about the opportunity to talk with you further about my ideas and about how I can support your needs and your communities.
[ Applause ]
ELISE McMILLAN: Thank to you all the candidates.
And now let's get to the questions.
We'll state the question once, asking the candidates to limit their answers to two minutes, and I think you've all seen Susan now.
We drew names to mix up the order in which the candidates speak.
Mr. Kane will be the first to answer the first question, followed by Ms. Rebrovick and then we'll come back down to the beginning of this table and so on.
So the first ‑‑ Mr. Kane, how will your administration collaborate with Metro Nashville public schools to support high quality education for children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities positioning them for successful post‑secondary outcomes.
JEREMY KANE: I love that I randomly got the education question first.
This is important.
We're going through this process as a community right now.
And as important as this election is amongst the seven of us, there's an important selection going on in Bransford avenue with the next superintendent.
And I think we're in a unique moment in Nashville's history where we'll have a new Mayor and new superintendent taking office almost simultaneously.
I think that relationship is critical and I think this makes me uniquely qualified, not being an educator but over ten years experience in education and having a group of schools that proudly serve students with disabilities.
And I say struggled with it as well.
We learned a lot from it.
Many of you in this room I know because we reached out for help.
And I think that's important, to have a Mayor who understands it is different challenges and different needs of all of our communities, all of our populations.
So a couple of specific things.
One, we ran a full inclusion model at our schools.
And we saw an incredible difference with our students and their achievement.
We had a college for all mentality and culture.
And that's the type of mentality and thinking that immaterial to bring to all of Nashville.
It may look different for college for some.
It may be a two‑year college or a four‑year college, it may be Vanderbilt's program, a Goodwill training program but we need to have high expectations for all and most importantly give our teachers and our principals the resources they need to be successful.
And that's ultimately where I think education comes down to.
The only silver bullet that I ever found in what we did and what I want to give and work with the public school superintendent the ability there is the flexibilities.
No two children are alike.
No two schools are alike.
No two communities are alike.
We need to give that flexibility to each and every one of our principals and as well our teachers.
That's what true trust is all about.
We also need to partner with Vanderbilt that's doing innovative programs in higher education.
Partner with great companies like Goodwill and others that seek and offer employment opportunities that we can learn from.
So I think as Mayor there's not much direct control, but there are incredible partnership opportunities, transportation partner opportunities, I think that's the kind of Mayor I'll be.
>>LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: I want to also add that everyone is different.
People with disabilities have different needs based on their disabilities, and so it is critical that our school system supports everyone's needs.
You know, as I look at my family and friends that I've grown up with that have children or family that have been through our school systems, I talked to them about their experiences.
I lived with them through those experiences.
And what I learned is it is real important that we have inclusion.
But it has to be real inclusion.
We have to make sure that we've got situations where children with disabilities are matched up with mentors and buddies who are other students.
What happens there is they learn responsibilities, those students do, and the children with disabilities get a chance to be involved.
Get someone who's helping them, taking them to assembly, sitting with them in the lunchroom, helping them to have a great experience of learning and reading.
And I wanted ‑‑ I have a friend whose child went to a school in Dickson and they offered that.
When I got behind how did they have that?
It got back to the principal, the principal set the example, the principal was empowered and the teachers were excellent and they cared and wanted to offer those programs.
I have been talking about since the beginning of my campaign that I will empower the principals.
I will make sure they are not only accountable to be successful but they can do the right thing for their students.
That they can meet their parents and work together to make sure every child has special needs as they need those to be.
The other thing I want to talk about is the transition plan that the State Department of Education has.
When our children leave school at 22, I want to make sure those parents are happy with that plan that takes them out into the working world or out into their next steps and what they're going to do.
Those plans have to be clear.
They have to be comprehensive.
And they need to work for their child.
[ Applause ]
LILY SHAW: Being a product of the Metro Nashville public school system I realize it's time we put individualized back into individualized education plans commonly known as IEPs.
Every student is given an IEP but the real issue comes when the educators know the material or have an awareness of IEPs period.
This is funny to me because if I wanted to I could get away with so many things by laughing and saying it's in my IEP.
More common than not people don't know what that is.
During my middle school years I commonly got mistaken for a student with an intellectual disability which led to me getting mistreated until I told my teachers otherwise.
To prevent issues like these in the future Megan Barry's administration will work with the director of public schools to push for a better education training of students with disabilities and faculty.
It is also important that IEPs are strengthened and reviewed often to keep the most updated plans possible to ensure the appropriate education for our students.
[ Applause ]
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: So I think we have to start by looking at the context.
And 12% of our children in the Metro school systems have some type of disability.
We know 15% of our children don't speak English as their first language but yet we hear every day what do we do about our ELL population, how do we provide better ELL services.
But when you look at it, the ELL services get about 100 times of the attention at this point than we do on the services that we provide our disabled students.
So I think it's time that comes back and become a priority.
I appreciate what lily said and her first hand account of that and she has far more insight into that than the next Mayor.
If left to my own devices I think there's a couple of things the next Mayor can help and the next Mayor can promote.
One is the CBTB training program providing vocational skills, vocational training to those students to help transition to the workforce or to transition to those opportunities I think is a good example.
The second thing is I think about our after‑school programs, I think about what happens here.
Something that we've talked a lot about during this campaign is the opportunity to exponentially increase and expand those after‑school programs that are being provided by our nonprofit community.
If you look at those children that are most at risk or most in need of services, it looks to me that we're providing effective after our out of school programming to make about 8% of those kids.
I think that's a great opportunity for the Mayor to step together, step forward on a city wide collaborative and to focus on how we increase the capacity of those programs that are already in place.
And then the last piece of that, I've had the opportunity for the last several years to serve on the board of Best Buddies.
I think Best Buddies is a great example of a group that partners in our school system that provides friendships is a great program.
The opportunity is how do we expand that across the system.
How do we make it bigger than it is and I think as Mayor I'd be in a unique role to help with that.
[ Applause ]
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: So David has a ‑‑ definitely has a special concern for children with special needs.
David and I worked together ‑‑ well, he was on the school board and the school board chair and I was the liaison between the school board and the director of schools.
And so when he was on the school board he was extremely interested in finding out how Harris‑Hillman did what they did.
And so he would always request to go to their graduation.
And he marveled at the quality of service, the level of care and concern that the staff provided the students there.
At Harris‑Hillman, led by the incomparable Robbie Hampton which is here, which Harris‑Hillman is successful in no small part due to her.
But David sees ‑‑ he saw first‑hand how Mayor Dean showed ‑‑ set a precedent in how a Mayor can intervene with helping, you know, the needs of ‑‑ helping support the needs of students with special needs.
And so ‑‑ so he saw it first‑hand.
So he is interested in, you know, collecting the intellectual capacity in this room to ‑‑ you know, to form some more solutions for our ‑‑ for our neighbors with special needs.
[ Applause ]
Oh, yeah, I'm finished.
[ laughing ]
BRENDA GILMORE: Okay.
Mr. Freeman of course was born in Donelson.
Middle class family and he's been a very successful businessman.
He loves his city.
And he recognizes how important education is for all children.
And especially for children with disabilities.
First I know that children with disabilities sometimes have been marginalized in the classroom.
Some individuals may have very low expectations of them.
But what Mr. Freeman would do is work with the directors and the educators to make sure that there was enough teachers and that the teachers aides to serve children with disabilities and that they would have the time and the capacity and the ‑‑ receive the proper training to make sure that it was an inclusive environment, that we did not isolate children with disabilities.
Because we know that we should have the same expectations of them.
Some of the other tools that he would use is one is he would also promote community achieve program for community schools, and this is the concept of wrap‑around services where community schools would provide all the services that children with disabilities may need, such as healthcare and other important services.
Some of the cities that have adopted community achieves and community schools are Cincinnati and Indianapolis and they have been extremely successful and test scores have really raised, went just sky‑high for all children.
[ Applause ]
ELISE McMILLAN: Before we go on to our second question, we've gone two rounds with applause now.
So we're going to ask you to hold your applause until the final comment, when the candidates make their final comments.
We'll get that back then.
Will, I think you have the next question.
WILL McMILLAN: Mr. Bone will be the first to answer our next question followed by Mr. Fox's representative.
How will you increase job opportunities in Metro Nashville for citizens with disabilities whose unemployment numbers increase the general population?
Further, can you envision Metro Government as a model ‑‑ as a model employer for people with disabilities?
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Thank you for that question.
Growing up one of my best friends and next‑door neighbor was a guy named Craig Shedden, and Craig, during elementary school, developed a degenerative disease which caused both an intellectual and a physical disabilities.
Craig graduated from high school, did two years at Vol State which was the community college near where we lived and wanted to work.
He worked very hard to want to work.
And we finally got him a job at Papa John's helping fold the pizza boxes.
And Papa John's was accommodating to that, but it took a lot of work.
It took a lot of work to get the employer to understand what his limitations were but also not just his limitations, what he was capable and able to do and how he became a good employee.
So this is something that I was very close to on more than one occasion.
They towed his van from the center where Papa John's was and I had to go and raise ‑‑ raise my concerns ‑‑
[ laughing ]
With the police.
And so he ‑‑ that's off track.
I think there's a couple of opportunities here.
In part given that personal experience.
One is I think the government can be an absolute leader in that in terms of how we employ people and how we set the example.
Two is we've got phenomenal programs in this city like Goodwill that specialize in that.
That's part of their D.N.A., the part of their organization, part of how they do.
But the third piece of that is, as we ‑‑ we are in a place where we're talking about local jobs, where we talk about we know we have deficits in our workforce, we know we have jobs today that are not being met.
We know an opportunity but also a challenge for the next Mayor going forward is how do we retrain a job workforce that's here for the jobs not just of today but also for the jobs of tomorrow.
We know we're in a place within three or four years we're going to have 25 thousand job openings more than people to fill them.
And I think when we think about our disabled population, I think we're in a great place for that to be part of our city's workforce development strategy going forward.
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: So candidate Bone just pretty much said what I was going to do.
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: I was reading over your shoulder.
[ laughing ]
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: So he is the candidate for Mayor.
So David talks a lot about public/private partnerships and this is one of those areas where we can benefit.
Where the citizens with special needs can benefit.
And so he is interested in working with security ‑‑ securing employment with organizations like Goodwill, the ARC of Davidson County and Bridges.
Just to name a few.
Especially now with the labor shortage, Metro Government needs to reach out aggressively to our citizens with special needs.
The Mayor must set the expectation, the local government is an active employer of those with special needs so that expectation is adopted by all agencies.
And there's no reason Metro should not be a model employer of people with disabilities.
David was fortunate to work with those with disabilities and their advocates to ensure that Nashville is a model employer.
BRENDA GILMORE: Well, Mr. Freeman has also made a commitment that he would review all of Metro facilities and transportation to make sure that they're ADA compliant and that they receive the needed upgrades there are some, to serve people with physical disabilities.
I'm sure most of you all have read about the report that was put out by the Metro human relation commission sometime ago and it basically said that we need to do a better job of hiring and promoting people who are ‑‑ more females, more minorities, and also more racially.
So Mr. Freeman has committed that when he's elected or if he's elected, if he's blessed enough to be elected, that he will do everything that he can to make sure that his administration and Metro Government looks like our community.
It looks like the City of Nashville.
And that should also include people with disabilities as well as being sensitive toward racially, ethnically, and gender.
One of the things that he's put on the table is important too is increasing the minimum wage in a phased‑in basis for making a recommendation of that and working to see that that happens in a phased‑in period.
And there's an old cliche that says a rising tide raises all boats.
So when money is available that have families and disabled children the quality of life increases for everyone.
Some of the things ‑‑ other things he can do is look for nonprofits.
There's some wonderful nonprofits in this city, Operation Stand Down, United Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome Association, of course, (inaudible), and Bridges, we're here tonight.
So I thank you.
We rely on these agencies for their expertise and to partner with them to improve people in the disabled community.
JEREMY KANE: Representative Gilmore referenced the human relations committee report and I think it shed an uncomfortable but an appropriate light on our government in the work we have to do going forward.
And it created some metrics.
It's showed us where we are today.
And as you consider who to support for Mayor, I think you need to consider who has a record of standing up and having that courage to really look at some uncomfortable truths and do something about it.
And I think as she referenced, we saw and heard a lot of conversation around racial diversity and gender diversity and sexual diversity but we also need to talk about intellectual disabilities and disabilities.
And that needs to reflect and be reflected in the next Mayor and who they put around them.
And I think that's one of my advantages, is I have not made a promise who my finance administrator is going to be or deputy Mayor as I'm coming in we'll look to the community to help me fill those positions amongst many others.
We are going to have over the next four and eight years an unprecedented number of retirements within Metro Government and we need to have the challenge in the next Mayor is to convince many of you in this room and throughout the community to work for government and bring your resources, bring your intellect, bring your creativity and your innovation so that we create a government that truly does not only look like Nashville but is as creative as Nashville is.
One of those things I want to do immediately is we are a city of nonprofits.
We're incredibly compassionate and giving.
We're one of the biggest givers per capita in the entire country.
We're also a city of neighborhoods.
Each neighborhood is unique and we're also a city of faith.
We have over 700 places of worship.
So I'd like to create an office of nonprofits, neighborhoods, and faith where we tap into the power of our non prompt community, where we tap into our places of worship.
Not to push a certain religion but to tap into those resources and tap into that community spirit.
My mother raises CCI dogs and something she has learned through both her church and a nonprofit is coming and working with domestic violence victims and bringing her dog to come there.
And that's a way that the government has reached out and partnered and said come in and help us participate.
Having relationships with folks who struggle with transportation has opened our eyes very differently and reflected our vision.
That's what I would do as Mayor and it would start on day one.
ELISE McMILLAN: Thank you, Ms. Eskind before you start, we would like to welcome Howard Gentry who has now joined us.
We are on the second question and have two more candidates to finish this question.
And then we'll allow you to give your one‑minute opening and pick you right up into the questioning at that time.
HOWARD GENTRY: Thank you.
ELISE McMILLAN: Ms. Eskind Rebrovick.
>>LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: Thank you.
Either one works.
I've had the opportunity to work for three of the world's largest companies, IBM, KPMG and Dell.
And what I learned there is there was a culture of inclusion, discrimination was not allowed.
And it is ‑‑ but it is not uncommon for people who are going ‑‑ who are passed over for employment opportunities because of discrimination.
We don't have that same culture in every company in Nashville and in every government.
And I am going to bring the best practices that I learned from those three companies, three of the world's leading companies, that make sure that we are inclusive, that make sure that everyone has an opportunity.
And what that means is it starts with recruiting.
That means when you're recruiting you are open to everyone and you make sure that you have people of diversity, of thought, and background, and needs, being interviewed for positions.
If they are qualified, they should have every opportunity.
It means that when people are in your company that you work hard to create development programs so that they have fair opportunities to move up in the company, and they did.
We had people of special needs and disabilities throughout all of our departments in those companies.
It also means that we need to do the same thing at Metro Government.
And as your Mayor, I will lead by example.
I will show companies what we did at those ‑‑ at those three large successful companies.
I will make sure that we have diversity of thought and background, across our employee base.
And in leadership.
And I do that not because I think it's the right thing to do.
Yes, it is, that's not the only reason.
I'm going to do it because you get better results.
You make better decisions.
You solve problems better, when you have people of diverse thought and background.
And I have lived it.
I have a record of it, too.
I have worked hard for women's organizations like cables women and women corporate directors U for example.
>>LILY SHAW: In a modernized fast‑paced city communication is key and transportation is one of the most important aspects of having a steady job.
People, regardless of their disability, need to get to work when they need to get there without complication.
Which relates back to Megan Barry's idea of unifying all of the transportation offices into the Mayor's office.
By starting the conversation between the transportation offices, more consolidated routes would be available for people with disabilities to access more jobs and bring value to businesses.
In addition to transportation Megan will work with the Human Relations Commission and Human Resources to include disabilities in our reports about women and minority employment disparities so that the disabled community remains in the conversation.
And the answer to the second part of this question, is the Metro Government could very well be a model employee ‑‑ employer for people with disabilities because there shouldn't be a set boundary on jobs offered.
Like I said earlier, I'm an intern for Megan Barry, and I work side by side with my other interns.
I even go knocking on doors to talk to voters with them.
As an accepting community if somebody with a disability is fit for a job, we can need to give them the tools necessary to help him or her succeed.
ELISE McMILLAN: Okay.
Now before we turn to our third question, we will give Mr. Gentry the opportunity, a one‑minute opportunity to introduce yourself.
HOWARD GENTRY: Thank you.
My name's Howard Gentry and I apologize for being late and I'm just going to be honest with you.
I was in a one‑on‑one discussion with mothers who are ‑‑ have had their children murdered in the streets and it got a little passionate and I just couldn't walk out on them.
It's no disrespect for where I am today, but I just couldn't.
And I apologize for being late.
But it ‑‑ they're just sad stories.
And we've got to do something about it.
But I will say that I'm happy to be here now.
And I want you to know that I'm not sure what the first two questions were, but you will have somebody in me who understands the importance of inclusion.
The fact is, in my graduate studies I actually did my senior paper on inclusion.
And I have studied it over time.
I taught swimming for the blind and I've got to stop because the red thing came up.
[ laughing ]
And I'll discuss more as I get into my answers.
ELISE McMILLAN: Thank you.
Now we'll turn to our third question and Ms. Rebrovick, we will ‑‑ you will be the first to answer the next question, then followed by Lily Shaw, Ms. Barry's representative.
What are your plans for strengthening the city's resources for transportation to ensure fully accessible and reliable options to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
>> LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: I lived with this with my parents.
Starting with my dad.
He got to a point where he couldn't drive anymore but he wanted to volunteer at the Frist center.
He loved it.
It was ‑‑ he was one of the top volunteers at the Frist center in terms of the hours he worked there.
And we turned into the JCC that had a bus and that bus would pick him up and take him down to the Frist Center and bring him home.
And without that, he wouldn't have had that opportunity.
And so just a little van with the opportunity to drive into our driveway and take him to where he needed to go, showed me how important it is that we have something like that in our government.
My mother ‑‑ my fathers passioned away.
My mother has a neurological days corticobasal degeneration, CBD.
So she is in a wheelchair.
She can't use her hands or legs but I want her to get out because she still has her mind and she loves to be social and be with people.
So I went to look at the Access Ride.
It was very hard to go through the application process.
It was very hard to find accessibility for her.
And so I understand the issue there and I am going to work hard to extend the ‑‑ to absolutely accelerate and make that process easy, to number two, extend the hours and the operation and make sure that it will work for all of our community and people that need to have access to it.
I also am very eager to make sure that, you know, we offer ramps and lifts and things that are important all across the city.
I mean, anybody who's ever been in a wheelchair or on crutches realizes how hard it is to get around our city.
So it's not just the mobile cars and buses, but it's walking and sidewalks and crosswalks and buildings and everything about our city.
I've written a 13‑page policy paper on transportation and this is a part that I'm going to focus on, too.
LILY SHAW: In Nashville we already have so many resources available to us, but the issue is we don't know how to properly or most effectively utilize them.
It's time Access Ride program is extended so that it fits its true name, access.
We also need more sidewalks on our major roads and improvements on the ones we already have that may be cracked or broken.
In conjunction toss sidewalks more unblocked curbs are vital to the usage of these sidewalks for people like myself in wheelchairs.
Along the same lines, some crosswalks are simply timed too quickly to actually cross safely.
[ laughing ]
They are supposed to be measured on how long it takes to walk across the street, but clearly walking and rolling paces are difference.
And plus there's a constant issue of cars turning on red lights that don't exactly see wheelchairs that are lower to the ground.
That is why Megan Barry has called for expanding our complete streets along our pikes and corridors that would incorporate these improvements while also consolidating transportation pieces in the Mayor's office so that these accommodations are taken into consideration when upgrading or maintaining our roads, sidewalks, and bridges.
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Didn't want to cut you off.
So I'd like to endorse what Lily said and adopt that as my answer.
[ laughing ]
With all due respect, I think it's a combination of several things, a lot of which Lily touched on.
One is expanding Access Ride.
When you see the amount of money the city is spending on Access Ride, which I'm absolutely in favor of, it looks to me there ought to be some way to make that a little more efficient, a little more expansive than it currently is, given the resources dedicated to that.
But the second part of that is, I think about Access Ride and how we provide those transportation opportunities and resources, the same as I think of our overall transit system.
I've been trying to ride the bus from time to time so I can frequented ‑‑ acquaint myself with what those opportunities are, what I've learned is, from my house in Nashville, in West Nashville you have an intersection ‑‑ only in Nashville would a harder and harder intersected but at the corner of haring and Harding is the bus stop that's the close toast my house.
I've been riding the bus from there.
And what I've learned is once I can get to and get onto the bus, that's an easy trip for me.
The hardest part is getting to the bus.
To Lily's point on sidewalks, I'm nine tenths of a mile from that bus stop.
I have to go through four streets to get there, not a one of which has a sidewalk.
Two of which is completely dangerous and hard to navigate and one of which is a four‑lane highway.
So I think when we realize that 85% of the people who avail themselves of public transportation in this city walk to the bus stop to get there or use some other means to get there, that we have to think about that in the context of saying how do we make all of our transit options, including Access Ride, more efficient, nor dependent, and get more people on transit and expand those resources.
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: So this may be the 50 ‑‑
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Second.
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: 52nd forum so they've been asked 50 times about transit.
This may be the first time they've talked about how to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
David if talks ability ensuring the process is an inclusive process.
And so ‑‑ so he says that a lot, right?
He wants to be sure that it's an inclusive process and that, you know, all the brain power doesn't reside necessarily in the Mayor's office.
It resides in this audience.
It resides in our community.
And so ‑‑ while he has ideas, he understands that the ‑‑ you know, the expertise doesn't begin and end with him.
But having said that, he does whole‑heartedly support MTA's Access Ride program and is either to learn how it can better meet the needs of those with disabilities.
The redesign of transportation of Nashville must meet the needs of disabled residents and it must be baked in from the very beginning.
So we know we have to have a conversation about redesigning transit.
And so we must have the advocates and people with disabilities at the table at the very beginning.
BRENDA GILMORE: Well, as Mr. Freeman has traveled around the city, some of the stories that he has heard about Access Ride over and over again is that it's a great resource but at the same time it has challenges and insufficiencies.
And one of the examples that was shared with us is sometimes when individuals with disabilities or seniors have doctor's appointments and they go to the doctor's appointment and then they wait for Access Ride to return, their wait is sometimes up to four hours.
So one of the things that I ‑‑ that Bill will do is make sure that he has someone on staff who's a transportation expert or director of transportation to look at Access Ride and see what we can do to buff it up to make it a little bit more efficient, to cut down on that wait time when people have to go to important appointments.
He will also look at all the bus routes and try to revamp them as part of his regional transportation program.
And also look at what peer cities are doing.
If somebody is doing a better job than us, there's nothing wrong with us, I won't say stealing that idea.
I just say adopting that idea.
[ laughing ]
There's some simple things also that he's talked about you can do and that is looking at our crosswalks.
Sometimes when people are in motorized wheelchairs, it looks like that they really have to scurry to get across before the lights change.
Looking at broken sidewalks, there are sidewalks that go nowhere or there are sidewalks that a tree suddenly jumps out in front of you.
[ laughing ]
And those are some simple things that I think that he ‑‑ he or any administration can do almost immediately to make life easier for people with disabilities.
HOWARD GENTRY: I think we have two minutes on this question so I'm going to take a little time to go backwards and try to cover some of the questions that were already asked.
One was with education and I'll just be pretty brief with that.
One ‑‑ the question was about children with intellectual and developmental and physical disabilities, and one thing that's important to me and it's important to me as Mayor is again I told you that I've done work around inclusion.
But inclusion is great, but if you don't have a teacher with skills, if you don't have an assistant in the room that can actually assist the young people who are faced with these challenges, then just being in the room is not good enough.
And as Mayor what I'm going to do is hopefully be able to support systems and initiatives that allow persons in the classroom that can really help students with these challenges not be challenged beyond their circumstances.
Nobody's talking about the fact that we have so many sidewalks that are not level and to have a sidewalk that doesn't ‑‑ that is not level creates a problem for not only persons in wheelchairs but persons in walking on canes or crutches and also person who is have sight challenges.
And so as we provide the Access Ride and also the opportunity to move around with disabilities, we need to make sure that those types of issues are out of the way, that the grades and the ramps are made accessible.
That turn‑arounds are also of the proper length so that people can utilize the access and the opportunities that we have.
JEREMY KANE: My vision for transit, I've said all along, is it really is the difference between Nashville for some and a Nashville for all.
Whether it's getting access to that job that you want or you need, that neighborhood you want to live in or can live in, that school you choose to go to.
I mentioned earlier my mother raising CCI dogs and what's been interesting is many of you probably know in this room Rhonda and works at Vanderbilt.
And so she ‑‑ we sat down with her and started talking about Access Ride and access across the city.
And what she kept coming back to was the word "independence."
And it was so meaningful and powerful that we included it in our newest ad we just released.
And I spent a morning with her, waiting for Access Ride.
And she works at Vanderbilt and has to be there at 11:00.
[ laughing ]
I hear the laughs.
It was ‑‑ it was not as funny, you know, when you're going through it and unfortunately that is so true for so many of new this room and so many around Nashville.
And for her she starts her shift at 11:00.
She has to be outside at 9:00.
And she has 15 ‑‑ or five minutes, excuse me, to get out and be prepared.
And luckily it was a sunny day when we were visiting.
But she has waited outside in the rain and in the snow and in the heat before.
And so ‑‑ but I also asked her, then what would you do differently?
She said I have to have Access Ride.
We need it.
There's so much that is good about it.
We just need to look for it and have different ideas.
And I think that personal experience is so important because of that independence.
I think there are a couple of things.
We've heard great ideas across the board.
I was talking with a council member here around sidewalks within a two‑mile distance in her district, 62 light poles blocking that access.
So when we talk about access, just maneuvering around that, an able body as I am, I run into it, can't do it.
Walk in Belmont, you have sidewalks that stop or trees and roots as has been discussed.
We need to coordinate and do a better job of coordinating across our government.
As we're looking at the sidewalk priority index and re‑updating that one, we also need to look at the access and independence, making sure right‑of‑ways are always clear, making sure our sidewalks are clear as well.
And then we also need to be open where Uber does not force you to be ADA compliant.
Access Ride you must be.
My time is out.
[ laughing ]
I had a great idea.
See me afterwards.
[ laughing ]
>> LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: That's the way to hook them.
WILL McMILLAN: Ms. Brenda Gilmore will be the first to answer the question.
What are your priorities for development of affordable housing in neighborhoods which is integrated and accessible to people with disabilities?
BRENDA GILMORE: Okay, thank you very much for that question.
Bill Freeman knows housing, especially affordable housing.
He's made his living in housing.
And he's committed to building 10,000 affordable housing over a four‑year period.
That's about 2,500 a year.
And one of the things that just as he wants his administration and the City of Nashville to look like the communities that we live in, then he will pay special attention of how we award these affordable housing and how we recruit people to be in these affordable housing.
A parted of that affordable housing plan will include ensuring that all of them are ADA compliant throughout the entire city, not just in some parts of the city.
And also looking at going back and looking at some of our older units and upgrading those and working also more toward workforce level housing.
I think that there's always a discussion about what is true affordable housing.
His goal is to work toward putting on the market 600, 700, and $800 a month housing.
And also his transportation plan will include miles and miles of new sidewalks, as we've talked about them before.
Not only would this help Nashville to be a healthier Nashville, as Mayor Dean has tried to encourage us, but it will also improve our entire transportation plan.
HOWARD GENTRY: For those of you who know me, you know when I start talking about affordable housing I talk about true affordable housing.
That is housing for people who are below the poverty line.
And deserve to have housing.
And every house that is truly affordable housing for that level of our ‑‑ of citizen of our community should be accessible.
Because in our groups that are underserved and are in need, you find the most health disparities, you find the greatest obesity.
You find disabilities in almost every category.
I started the homeless commission.
I know what I find out on that street.
Can you imagine being in a wheelchair on the street?
Can you imagine spending the night on the street and you're blind?
Can you imagine persons who need support A support system being out there by themselves?
The fact is every affordable house, every affordable home, every affordable structure should be accessible because you never know when a person of need has to use it.
And it should be a place where a person can live a life of dignity, no matter their circumstances.
So as Mayor, I'm going to ensure that when we are talking about affordable housing we're really talking about true affordable housing.
And when we create affordable housing, that it will be created with the thought in mind that there are going to be needs that our mainstream community or those who don't have the need will be accommodated.
And so it's just my passion.
It's what I do.
It's who I am.
And I want to ensure that nobody suffers if I have anything to do with it.
JEREMY KANE: I talk a lot about obtainable housing.
And there's a reason for that word choice, is that there are plenty of affordable houses that aren't always obtainable.
When we're talking about folks suffering with big challenges in their lives.
My parents have suffered from this when they lost a job.
And where can they find a home.
And can they continue to afford it.
And it's not always obtainable because of transit.
It's not always obtainable because of where your job is.
Some that we do have that are ‑‑ are obtainable are not always affordable.
I've had families that had students with disabilities who were living in obtainable house that suddenly became very unaffordable when the rent was jacked up and they lost that house.
And so I talk about obtainable because it's more than just the house and the roof over your head.
And I've talked a lot about it for the very reasons because of the Envision Cayce program in East Nashville and some campaigns have minimized this or sought to minimize it.
This is one of the most important projects for the future of Nashville because right now 1,700 people live in Cayce Homes and Envision Cayce is a project that MDHA is backing that guarantee everyone living there has a right to return there.
It will also create mixed income housing that reintegrates that back into the neighborhood.
It has a school on its property, has Martha O'Brien, makes Shelby Park the central piece of that property.
It's on Shelby Avenue which is a corridor, it makes it affordable and obtainable.
If beauty of if we do Cayce right it means we do Edgehill across the street here the right way.
Napier and Sudekum the right way and then we truly don't become Atlanta because over 5,000 families will be within walking distance or accessibility to downtown.
That truly makes Nashville diverse community.
It means that we're a Nashville not just for some but a Nashville for all.
So that would be my plan on affordable housing and obtainable housing.
>> LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: Yes, smart ‑‑ part of a smarter Nashville means we're going to have smart homes.
You know there are many things you can do for a home.
You can have low counters, you can have wider doors.
You can have motorized window shades.
You can have security and lighting, all the things that you need to do for people that need to be able to live a normal life and have the independence in their own home.
And so I thought about well why don't we take the land that Metro has, that belongs to Metro, that's underutilized or unused, or let's take homes that we have that need to be upgraded to that level and let's incentivise developers to build those homes that will work for people that are smart homes.
And I'll do that as your Mayor.
Second, I'm also the candidate that agrees with candidate Kane that we need to focus on the MDHA program.
Envision Cayce is an absolute outstanding approach.
And it is going to be scalable, it is going to be usable, and it's going to give us the kind of environment where people can succeed, work, play, go to school.
We're going to be able to leverage and scale this across the city, in all of our public housing, so we have mixed income, mixed use.
This is the solution, or one of the most important solutions, for us to have affordable housing.
And if we have those homes with the same kind of smart homes that I'm talking about, then I believe we have the ultimate ‑‑ or one of many ultimate solutions to take care of everyone and make sure that everyone has a safe place to live.
LILY SHAW: To be the most inclusive city that we strive to be, it will be Megan's priority to collaborate with public and private entities, to access the needs of our disabled community and come up with universal design standards.
And as for our community and assistive living, having a liaison in the Mayor's office of neighborhoods focused on reaching out to and working with assisted living facilities in order to make sure that they are remaining in compliance with laws and proactively addressing concerns is vital.
It is time for people with disabilities to become increasingly active in our neighborhoods and community but keeping up to date on compliance and increasing accessibility design standards.
No citizen should feel overlooked.
As people with disabilities regain a voice and a louder one at that under this add M.
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: One of the frustrating things in this campaign to me has been that we talk about affordable housing and we talk about it in the context of just gross numbers.
And say we need 10,000 units, which I think is probably the right number.
However, what we have to realize is that affordable housing is for those making anywhere between 30% of median company ‑‑ so those making 20,000 up to 75 or $76,000 a year from those disabled to those who are not, to our seniors, to our young people.
Affordable housing is for a broad section of the community.
I think before we can go load up the toolbox and say what are the incentive that is we need or what's the approach we need, we have to come back and figure out what are the types of units we need and where on that scale?
And so certainly to those individuals with disabilities, it's a prominent part of that conversation.
So as Mayor, I have an absolute commitment to affordable housing.
I do not disagree that 10,000 units is the right number, but we can't just measure it in total number of units.
I think we have to start and would start the first week in the Mayor's office of taking our data.
We can take our census tracks.
We can take poverty numbers.
We can take college attainment, wage growth, et cetera, and begin to identify where are those gaps and how do we survey each of those communities to understand what is missing and what is needed, all across the city, all across the county but also for each of those stitch situations and that would be my approach as Mayor.
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: And so ‑‑ housing, affordable housing, like transit, like them both, they're just ‑‑ you know, there are so many facets to it.
Having knocked on 43,000 doors we ‑‑ affordable housing and infill development are the third most frequently cited concerns.
Housing affordability is the term that David tends to use.
And it can be addressed by adding to supply or by more buying power by consumers, to increase supply we can offer density bonus toss developers to create more affordable housing.
We can also add funds to the barns fund to build more homes.
All efforts to expand supply should be some consideration of meeting the needs of residents with disabilities.
To increase housing affordability, we can examine expanding the property tax freeze that currently applies to senior citizen and apply to lower income residents.
We must also keep overall taxes low so residents have the money to afford housing.
ELISE McMILLAN: Now for our next question, Mr. Gentry will be the first to answer our last question followed by Mr. Kane.
And so we're going to give all of you the power of a magic wand that you can wave and tomorrow when you wake up a new Nashville will be there.
And we want to know what would that new Nashville look like to citizens with disabilities as well as their family members, caretakers, service providers, and advocates.
HOWARD GENTRY: That's a lot.
[ laughing ]
Well first thing, if I could wave my magic wand, persons with disabilities would be able to share the same level of quality of life that we attempt to create for all citizens of the city and more so for our visitors who come as tourists, that they ‑‑ my brother‑in‑law, whose had six strokes, could walk down the street with his walker and not trip over sidewalks that are uneven.
That our wonderful people that the center that I serve on the advisory board could find the same type of employment within our city as they do at the Rochelle center.
And my daughter who has only 40% sight in her right eye does not have to be afraid when she turns a certain way because the elevation or the height of certain parts of buildings tend to become a problem to her.
That people who do have disabilities are not looked upon as different and are treated the same as all people.
My magic wand would create a city where everybody is treated the same, looked upon the same, and respected in the same way as I respect you.
Thank you very much.
JEREMY KANE: So the word that I thought about when I saw this question was "security."
And my sister‑in‑law Lydia worked with Megan at pathfinders program at Vanderbilt and she would tell me these incredible stories of families reaching out and asking for help.
We saw this at our schools where families didn't know where to look and where to find resources, how to enroll their children in the services they needed, that they were often told hire a lawyer so that you can get the services you need after you sue the school system or the city.
So hearing those stories and thinking differently about this and the magic wand is waking up in a Nashville where families feel secure.
Where they know that they're secure in their home and they can continued to afford to live there.
That they can send their children or grandchildren to schools that are fully funded, where we don't struggle with our IDEA funds and our schools are able to fully fund teachers and paraprofessionals and principals who can serve all of our needs.
We have streets that are safe for everyone to walk and move about and buses that pick up where they need to and a government and a city that says this is a Nashville not just for some, as I've continued to say, but a Nashville for all.
And everyone is invited to participate.
And I think that's one thing that as we look forward and work on waving our magic wands together over the next four and hopefully eight years is to reach out and invite everyone in Nashville to share their creativity, to share their innovation, to share their energy, because we're all in this together.
And no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
And in this new Nashville that people are free to raise those ideas and more importantly to participate in implementing those ideas.
I think that is something that is unique to Nashville that we don't need a magic wand right now, is that there are so much creativity, so much innovation.
I think we need a Mayor and a future council and as a city to invite everyone to participate in that.
That would be my new Nashville.
>> LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK: I'm really excited about the magic wand.
I think that's a great idea.
In that new Nashville, everyone has an opportunity and has a job.
I think that is the most important thing, that we make sure that everyone gets employment, that everyone has a place where they can go.
Whether it's a center that we create where people come together because we've got, you know, entrepreneurs there that want to be creative and want to, you know, express themselves.
But absolutely they have a productive life.
It means that everyone has an education.
Everyone has an excellent education.
That no one is left behind.
It means that everyone's safe and secure and knows that they can be in a place where they don't have to worry all the time.
It means that they have a home, the kind of home I talked about, a smart home.
But they're around their family.
Around their loved ones.
It means that families don't have to worry about their children or about their family members or about their friends.
Because they know that in this new Nashville that they're going to be in a safe place, going to be taken care of, and they can know that at all times.
And it also means that we bring the caretakers, the service providers, and we do what Nashville does best.
I will make sure as your Mayor that we bring everyone together to work together.
Because when we all come together, we can do unbelievable things.
We can do what Nashville does that other cities would love to do, because we have leaders who care.
Whether they're in the not‑for‑profits, whether they're in bids, whether they're in any of our volunteer efforts, citizens would love to have the kind of leadership and caring and giving people that we have in Nashville.
And that is what is going to happen in our new Nashville.
Those people are now going to be able to do all those other things to make sure everyone is included and everyone has a life that is of quality and safe.
LILY SHAW: Instead of pulling together some type of committee of experts to come up with a seemingly appropriate action to take on the disabled community, a new better Nashville will consist of a coalition of the voice that is have the most to say on this subjects as they are living it first hand.
Megan wants to be listen to go the actual citizens with disabilities, their family members, caretakers, service providers, and advocates.
We need to pull all of these sources together to create a simple accessible platform such as a type of website or a message board that will contain all of these topic matters of inclusion mentioned tonight to keep the disabled community informed.
And lastly Megan wants Nashville to be a model accessible city that people with disabilities feel comfortable moving to, knowing that they will be taken care of and given the tools needed to live a comfortable life in our great city.
Over ‑‑ over 80 people a day move to Nashville.
And statistically one in five Americans have disabilities.
How many great opportunities of incredibly bright‑minded and talented people that happen to have a disability are we losing out on because of a lack of accessibility as a city?
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Incredibly unfair I have to keep going after Lily.
[ laughing ]
Once again I'd just like to adopt her answer and pass the microphone on.
When I think about what that new Nashville looks like, I think it's a ‑‑ a new Nashville where we wake up and we see increased literacy levels in third grade and fourth grade.
We also see more people, not just graduating from high school but some type of post‑high school training whether that's a two‑year or four‑year college or otherwise.
I think it's a place where poverty is reduced.
73% of our children in the Metro schools live at or below the poverty line and qualify for free our reduced lunch.
I think it's a city where nobody fears for their safety. It's a city that where we have (inaudible) our portability concerns but also our accessibility concerns. It's a city that has plenty of inventory when it comes to housing, that those concerns are no longer there.
It's a transit system that all of us can access that's more efficient, that's more dependent.
We'll have 10 million passenger rides on MTA this year but yet we're only at 15% capacity.
If we could only double that and get to 30% capacity, you would see an overnight change in our congestion and our traffic in the city.
So I think it would be a combination of all of those things.
I think it's a combination of education, transportation, infrastructure, affordable housing as well as that we are a city that has maintained our authenticity.
My vision for the City of Nashville is pretty simple and straightforward. That we pursue an education system that every child matters, we pursue an economic development strategy that says every family in this city matters and we pursue an infrastructure and transportation plan that says every neighborhood matters.
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: May I have his additional 30 seconds?
[ laughing ]
Thank you, thank you.
As David and I were going through these questions, he had a lapse in judgment and he said well, you seem to be very passionate about this question.
So have at it.
So here I go.
I'm going for it.
So if David could wave a magic wand, the new Nashville would not have a structure in this city that isn't equipped for all citizens with a disability.
And all of our schools would be better than adequately equipped to serve our children with special needs.
Also, I ‑‑ I am a caregiver and so I have ‑‑ for a couple of people in my home.
And I would like to see a bat phone, right?
I mean, you know, I would like to pick up the phone and say this is what I need for my family member ors in what I need to be able to adequately help my family member.
Kind of like the United Way 211 number, if you're familiar with that.
Finally, and possibly more importantly, the new Nashville would be educated, hyper educated and hypersensitive to the needs of all of our citizens.
And that is diversity, special needs, all of our citizens.
So the new Nashville for me and for David would be a more sensitive sensitized communities for all of Nashville.
BRENDA GILMORE: Thank you.
Bill would probably tell you that the only magic wand is hard work and dedication.
And I would ask you that if you would entrust him to be Mayor of this great city, that he's prepared to roll up his sleeves and be dedicated and work for all Nashvillians, including people with disabilities.
One of the things that he talked about is the great things that they're doing in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is one of our peer cities.
And they ‑‑ they are a very welcoming city.
I think that we are as well.
We've been named the "it" city but in some cases we've left some people behind.
And I think that Bill will work to make sure that no one is left behind.
Some of the things that Charlotte has done is particularly in their transit program, is they have talking signal lights and they also have talking buses to help people with disabilities.
They have sensitivity training for some of their drivers and then they have very thoughtfully planned out their neighborhoods so that residents live in close proximity to the grocery stores and the drugstores and the bus stops and restaurants and the day cares.
And of course, we've talked a lot about good walkable sidewalks, sidewalks.
If you look at Charlotte, you see as far back as 2003 that they made a concerted effort to have people with disability and 56% of Charlotte's residents with sensory disabilities have been employed.
So one of the other things that Bill Freeman has talked about doing is buffing up our office of neighborhood and having that person go out into the community and conduct awareness and educational campaigns to make the community aware of how important this important community is regarding disabilities.
WILL McMILLAN: Beginning with Ms. Rebrovick ‑‑ sorry, I got that wrong ‑‑ each candidate will have one minute for closing remarks, followed by Mr. Kane and down the line in reverse alphabetical order.
ELISE McMILLAN: I think you consulted and we would allow applause after each candidate.
Reversing the order.
>> LINDA ESKIND REBROVICK:
Thank you, Will.
Well, I stand before you as a candidate who truly cares about people and truly wants to do the right thing for our city.
This is not about a career move for me.
This is about making sure that I can bring my skills and experience, which are very unique, make me very uniquely qualified right now for what Nashville needs and help people with those skills and help that with a caring attitude.
You know, I've said my vision is to build a smarter Nashville.
It means we're going to bring business, discipline, and innovation to make sure that your government works more efficiently and effectively, so we can be more engaging and so that we will have money to invest in the things that we have talked about tonight.
It doesn't just mean technology.
It means combining technology with bold new ideas to make sure that Nashville gives every single one of you and every single one in our disability ‑‑ in our communities with disabilities a quality of life.
You know, I am ‑‑ that's my one minute.
Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
JEREMY KANE: I had a mentor when I was starting Lead Academy who said that the job of a CEO is to wake up every morning focused on getting results.
And when I decided to run for Mayor he called me up and said remember, the Mayor's a CEO of the city.
He or she is to wake up every morning focused on getting results.
And I'm proud to have a record to run on.
And I'm proud of our results at our schools that we've not only graduated two years of 100% of our seniors and gotten all of them including students with intellectual and physical disabilities accepted to a four‑year college as proud as I am of those results, I'm prouder of how we got them.
We got them through collaboration.
We got them by reaching out to many of you in this room and stealing some of our great ideas and borrowing a lot of our energy and creativity.
I'm running for Mayor ultimately to make education the most optimistic collaborative and successful thing we do.
I'm run to go make sure that transportation is the difference between a Nashville for some and a Nashville for all.
It ‑‑ we can continue growing our economy but we must also grow our community.
I'm running for Mayor to give purpose to our prosperity.
My name is Jeremy Kane and I'd be honored to have our vote.
[ Applause ]
HOWARD GENTRY: I've said since I've been running for Mayor that I want to make Nashville better.
And the way to make Nashville better is to make its people better.
And when we talk about our people, I don't like talking about groups.
We are all one community.
No matter how we come, we are all one community.
Every one of us is a citizen of Nashville and every one of us deserves to have the quality of life and the dignity of life that anyone else could have.
As Mayor of Nashville, I'm going to work to ensure that we are one community.
That each and every one of us with our differences become the same.
And that is a person, a human being, a person that deserves the best in every stage, in every category.
And I just want you to know as Mayor of Nashville I will ensure that that happens within our entire city for everyone.
[ Applause ]
BRENDA GILMORE: Well, thank you again for inviting us here tonight.
Bill would want me to tell you that he would like to work hard for all Nashvillians, and that means people with disabilities, caregivers, advocates would always be consulted.
He would listen to the people who really know the issues and have some good solutions of how to solve some of the problems that we are faced with.
He also wants Metro Government to reflect and again look like Nashville, that includes more females, that includes being more racially sensitive, and also people with disabilities.
So again, I hope you will entrust this great, great honor to Bill Freeman as your next Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee.
[ Applause ]
VESIA WILSON-HAWKINS: So I've talked a little bit about the Nashville way which is about building respectful and friendly community and regard for our neighbors with special challenges is a big part of that.
And David ‑‑ David is eager to work with various community members whose needs are not being adequately met.
So David, to protect our Nashville way, David will refocus our neighborhoods from all the attention that's been given downtown, he will be more cautious about our debt and spending so we don't financially jeopardize all that's good here.
We ‑‑ he plans to shore up our infrastructure and is willing to spend unlimited political capital to improve quality education making us the best educated city in the next ten years.
So if you have questions for him about anything, guess what?
You can call him at 615‑828‑1193.
Thank you for, you know, letting this third‑stringer do this.
You guys have been great and thank you guys.
[ Applause ]
CHARLES ROBERT BONE: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity to be here tonight.
And appreciate you all putting on this forum on these important issues.
When I think about Nashville, I think we've got the world's greatest nonprofit community in Nashville.
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, good boards, good resources.
Many of which are represented here tonight and many of which are represented on the Mayor's Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities.
Our nonprofit community with 2,000 nonprofits in the Middle Tennessee area with an aggregate budget of $9.4 million which is five times the Metro Government.
We have college and university city that for a City of Nashville's size is second to none and leadership is not apathetic about the future of Nashville.
And we have a faith‑based community of more than 700 churches asking how can we help?
How can we align what we do in our church with the vision of the City of Nashville?
How can we support the City of Nashville.
If you elect me as Mayor I'll make two pledges.
One, I'll work with each of you and each of the communities to bring to the table to ensure that we're not just meeting but exceeding the needs of people with disabilities and that two, we are bold enough to sustain our momentum as a city but responsible enough to diversify that prosperity.
I'm Charles Robert Bone, I'd be honored to have our vote.
[ Applause ]
LILY SHAW: I would first like to thank Bridges for having us tonight.
As you can tell, I'm pretty much a self‑advocate and I'm fairly integrated in my community.
But it's not just about me.
It's about everyone in Nashville with a disability.
When Megan Barry is elected for Mayor, she completely intends on taking on continuing to take on tough fights for Nashville as she has done for the past seven and a half years.
However assisting and providing people ‑‑ sorry.
Providing for people with disabilities should not be seen as a tough fight.
Megan wants to improve IEPs and training of faculty while working with Metro schools, getting people with disabilities ready to go where they need to get there and ultimately be the most inclusive city we can be.
Thank you and I'd be really happy with your support.
[ Applause ]
ELISE McMILLAN: Hasn't this been great?
I've heard many, many ideas.
I know there are ideas that have been discussed by many in this room before but to hear all of our candidates talk about all of those wonderful ideas and what needs to be done is very exciting.
[ Applause ]
I'd like to ‑‑
[ Applause ]
I'd like to ask all the members of the Mayor's Advisory Committee and staff to raise your hands and we're going to do something together.
Together with this entire group we want to thank you all, the audience, the candidates, for your participation here tonight.
We also want to let you know that there are refreshments when we end.
And now, I am going to turn it over to my co‑moderator, Will McMillan, to end the evening.
WILL McMILLAN: Have a great night, everyone.
And remember to vote.
[ Applause ]
>> Turn this into an event and the event turned into something that was supposedly not going to happen.
And I find it very interesting that a Mayor's committee clear back in May set the last, the very last amongst the weakest of us all.
And that is the advocacy of those in special needs.
Now, I have been in this city since 1978.
I taught at Tennessee State University for 25 years.
I had to march to the Capitol to get heat in our dormitories for our students.
I'm standing up tonight to talk about what about the Mayor's ‑‑ the Mayor's council that puts the disability people of special needs as the lowest priority about a meeting.
Now, that says something about the heart and not about the words.
It doesn't say one word about compassion.
Where is the Mayor's council and where is their compassion?
They nuclear back in May, clear back in May and where did they set this council?
Where did they set this event?
It is not an event, I'm told.
This is now some who had the guts to jump out and say I want to be here and stand up for the disability community.
And they showed up.
The rest of them sent their representatives.
So their full words but they're not here.
Which tells me who has the compassion?
Who has the guts to say to the other groups, there's something happening tonight that's more important?
I want to be here as a compassionate, caring person and confront a Mayor's council that ends up putting the last event in a time zone and in an event zone that says those of you who did show up showed up illegally.
That's dirty politics.
That's poor planning.
And that is a Mayor's council that doesn't give a damn.
ELISE McMILLAN: We appreciate your comments.
And invite you to continue talking during the reception.
BRENDA GILMORE: I want to make sure we give a shout‑out to Will and you as moderators.