The North Nashville Neighborhood Associations presents successful forum at the North Precinct

Forum participants answers questions posed by neighborhood organization (l-r) Erica Gilmore, District 19; Howard Gentry, Criminal Court Clerk; Sharon Gentry, School Rep. District 1; Metro Council Members-At-Large Jerry Maynard and Tim Garrett, and Edith Taylor Langster, District 21 Photos by Ludye N. Wallace

The crowd gathered, more than 200, for the North Nashville Political Forum held at the North Precinct, 2231 26th Avenue North. The forum’s theme was “Working Together We are Making Change.”  The forum was held for two hours on Monday, April 8, 2013.

The forum gave North Nashville constituents an opportunity to hear from  elected/appointed officials about the plans for economic development, education  and safety in the area.

The forum, moderated by Dwight Lewis brought  together state and local legislators, other elected officials, and Sergeant Mitch Kornberg, representing Commander North Precinct Terrence Graves.  State legislators participating were:  Sen. Thelma Harper, District 54 and Rep. Brenda Gilmore, District 54. Local legislators were: Metro Council Members-At-Large Jerry Maynard and Tim Garrett; Metro Council Members Lonnell Matthews, District 1;  Frank Harrison, District 2; Erica Gilmore, District 19; Edith Taylor Langster, District 21; Sharon Gentry, School Rep. District 1; and Howard Gentry, Criminal Court Clerk.

The panel was given twenty-two questions that had been developed by the neighborhood associations in the North Nashville area.  The questions were directed to one or more of the representatives on the panel.  Below are examples of some of the questions directed to one or more individuals:

1)  Frank Harrison, Sharon Gentry, Tim Garrett & Jerry Maynard – From your political perspective, what is North Nashville’s unique strengths and challenges (underdeveloped, lack of community engagement, etc)? What role can we as individuals and collectively play to help address the challenges?

2) Brenda Gilmore – What is the status of the Clarksville Highway Corridor Expansion and how will the plan  affect the area?

3)  Commander Graves – Please explain the crime reduction strategies for North Nashville and the effectiveness/impact they are having.  Please share some statistics based on data from the past year (increase, decrease, same)?

4)  Edith Langster and Erica Gilmore – The Mayor’s goals include Economic Development, Education and Safety for the City of Nashville.  What economic development is currently taking place in North Nashville and how has the development benefited disadvantaged populations and communities (job creation, community enhancements, etc)?

There were also persons who sought answers to basic questions, as the role of the Criminal Court Clerk, presently Howard Gentry.  Criminal Court Clerk Gentry said that the basic role of the clerk is to maintain records.  He shared that the clerks office has 81 employees; and there are six Criminal Courts with a clerk assigned to each court.  Gentry said, “The Criminal Court Clerk’s office collects $40 million in fees annually.  Amazingly,” he said, 85% are driver’s license related.”

There were a number of petitions being signed such as Building Nashville! Good Local Jobs First.

A number of present and former elected officials were in the audience, including:  Rep. Harold Love. Councilwoman Megan Barry, Brenda Wynn, County Court Clerk; former Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, former Councilman Ludye Wallace, former Councilman Donald Majors, and former School Board Member Ed Kindall.

The forum was presented by North Nashville Leadership Council Greg Pillow, president of the Buchanan Street Neighborhood Assoc. said this is a great opportunity for everyone to come together, ask questions and get information. “I always like to ask the questions … what can we do for you? And, we should all have the opportunity to participate.”  Other organizations of the North Nashville Leadership Council (NLC) and their representatives are: Bordeaux Hills Residential Assoc., Ruby Baker, President; Buena Vista Heights Neighborhood Assoc., Barbara Watson, President; College Hill Neighborhood Group, Van A. Pinnock / Wallace Dooley, Co-Directors; Community Reclamation, Beverly Thomas, Representative; Hadley Park Neighborhood Assoc., Patricia Totty / Beverly Jacobs, Co-Chairs; Haynes Park Neighborhood Assoc., Rev. Dennis Sweatt, Jr., President; Historic Buena Vista Community Assoc., Mark Wright, President; Neighbors Reaching Out, Janise Shaw, President; North Nashville Org. for Community Improvement, Dr. Janet Parham, Mgmt. Team Member; Northwest Nashville Civic Assoc., Chris Utley, President; Osage Neighborhood Watch, Sedora Johnson, President; Salemtown Neighborhood Assoc., Thomas F. O’Connell, President; Scovel St Watch / Arts Alive, Renee Somers, President; and Tomorrow’s Hope Neighborhood Assoc., Eldridge “Ronnie” Simmons, President.