Monday, June 20, 2011

Criteria for choosing a Metro Councilman

On August the fourth we will go to the polls to elect 35 district councilmember and five at large councilmembers. Many people, especially public sector union members, will simply vote for the person recommended by their union bosses. Others will vote for a person whose name they recognize, perhaps based on who had the most yard signs. This is a shame. Metro council is the government that is closest to the people. You can't pick up the phone and call your congressman, but you can your Metro Councilmember. Your quality of life may be more affected by who serves in the Metro Council than who serves in Washington. It is important that we elect good people to serve in the Council. People should not take their vote lightly for these important offices.

While I do not expect to find someone I agree with a hundred percent of the time on every issue, I do want to vote for someone who reflects my values and someone who is qualified to serve. Below are the qualities and policy position I am looking for in a council member.

Integrity, honesty and good moral character. A strong moral character is very important. I want someone who will not be swayed by flattery or other inducements to influence his or her decisions. I want a person of conviction and integrity. I want a person who I could trust with my wife, my daughter or my credit card. If a candidate is willing to engage in a smear campaign of lies against his opponent in order to win the seat, he does not deserve it.

Intelligence, education and wisdom. While one does not have to be a lawyer, engineer or accountant to effectively serve in the Metro Council, one should know how to talk intelligently to lawyers, engineers and accountants and know the questions to ask them. A college education, while not a necessity, is desirable for a councilman. I want to know that the person who is going to represent me is smart. If someone is not smart enough to understand the issues, I don’t think they can be wise enough to make the right decisions.

Community involvement and leadership. I want someone who has exhibited concern for his community and has shown leadership capability prior to announcing his candidacy for the Metro Council. Having chaired a neighborhood organization, a PTA, a civic organization or having served as a member of a church deacon board is good training for a Metro councilman.

A desire to serve people. While the primary job of the councilmember is to vote on local legislative matters, much of a councilman’s time is spend helping people deal with the local government bureaucracy and making sure complaints get addressed. If someone is not going to be concerned when a constituent complains about stray dogs, down stop signs and pot holes, they will not make a good councilmember.

A vocal and visible crusader. I want someone who will seek out wrongs to address, waste to expose, and who will ask the hard questions and not be afraid to criticize a department head or embarrass the mayor. Too many elected councilmembers quietly do their job and go alone to get alone and don’t rock the boat. They never speak out on an issue or take the lead. There is no shortage of issues that need addressed and waste, arrogance, and corruption that needs exposed.

Success and achievement and a good work history. The candidate for council should have a good work history and a record of accomplishments. View the candidate as an applicant for the job.

Flexible schedule. The council is a part-time job but can be very demanding. There are luncheons to attend and phone calls that can only be made during business hours. There are committee meetings that start at 4 pm in the afternoon, council meetings that go until 11:30 at night and weekend events a councilmember should attend. A good councilmember needs an understanding and supportive boss or needs to work for himself.

Conservative values. I want a councilman who tends to favor fewer taxes rather than more taxes, who expects government to operate efficiently, who is cautious by nature when entrusted with spending other people’s money and does not want to use the power of government for social engineering.

Civil Libertarian values. I want someone who respects private property rights, believes government should not have the right to demand to see my papers or search my home without probable cause and who believes the First Amendment applies to everyone.

A love of Nashville and a vision for the city. I want someone who wants Nashville to be a great city. I want someone who loves Nashville, not just Madison or Antioch or Woodbine or Bellevue. I want a council member who, when he travels to other cities, feels compelled to tell people what a great hometown he comes from. I want someone who is not embarrassed by the moniker “music city.” I want someone who expects Nashville to become an even better place to live. I want someone who is passionate about Nashville.

Save the Fairgrounds. The candidate I support needs to support preserving the Fairgrounds.

Convention Center.

Support Private property Rights. Nashville has a history of either attempting to take people’s property for the private use of other interest or of actually taking property such property for the private use of others. I will only support a candidate who supports private property rights. Only the Metro Council should have the right to exercise eminent domain.

Legalize economy limousine Service/Oppose price fixing. Recently, the city passed a minimum price for limousine service. This does nothing to protect the consumer and only protects the high-end limo owners. Unfortunately, not a single member of the Metro Council voted against this price-fixing bill. I want to vote for someone who is opposed to price fixing.

Opposition to increasing the cable tax. The city is contemplating increasing a cable tax so we can watch the Metro Council and The Bat Poet in high definition. This is a luxury we do not need.

Someone to question why we build sidewalks stupidly. I support expansion of sidewalks. I want a walkable city. However, we have wasted massive amounts of money building sidewalks to nowhere and replacing perfectly serviceable sidewalks instead of adding new sidewalks. I want someone to investigate and expose the waste in our sidewalk program.

Insure that Metro ordinances are not ignored when they become law. The Metro Council may pass an ordinance and it get signed by the Mayor and then conveniently left out of the Metro Code and be ignored for the next twenty years. This happened to a bill I sponsored some twenty years ago. How many other times has this happened? Procedures need to be put in place to insure this does not happen.

A Republican. The council is a non-partisan race and most issues to not break along party lines, but I would prefer to have Republicans in the Council rather than Democrats. The council is a good training ground and stepping stone for higher office. It is the farm team. Having Republicans in the Council will give us qualified Republicans candidates to compete with Democrats for Courthouse “clerk” offices, for judgeships, for State House and Senate seats and for the US Congressional seat. We need to build our farm team.

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