With the runoff election between Councilman DeCosta Hastings and Attorney Kyonzte Toombs less than two weeks away, controversy in District 2 is heating up. At issue is the Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition.
Though both candidates say the issue does not involve them or their campaign, each has strong supporters on opposite sides.
Since March of 2018, the Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition has been operating within District 2. The goal of the organization is to: “advocate for the preservation of its historic neighborhoods and to participate in the revitalization of their community.”
According to District 2 resident Danavan Hylton, who is a DeCosta Hastings supporter, the conflict began recently when a few local citizens in Metro Council District 2 got together to discuss issues and realized there was not an official and legal organization called Haynes – Trinity Neighborhood Organization.
“This despite operating a Facebook organization by that name and having meetings and taking money from developers to stay quiet on projects,” said Hylton.
“I have lived here with my wife and children for 7 years now,” Hylton explained. “I actually ran for Metro Council four years ago. I lost and supported DeCosta Hastings for council. After he won, I watched his actions closely. He has worked hard for our community every day he has been in office. But this illegal organization on Facebook kept attacking him and criticizing him because he would not do exactly what they wanted. This organization was like a cancer in our community. “
Thus, Hylton and fellow resident Cathy Bowers decided to form a legal and state-recognized organization to “help the citizens truly understand what was happening in the District 2 area of North Nashville.”
The new Haynes- Trinity Neighborhood Coalition was formed, naming Danavan Hylton as President and Cathy Bowers as Secretary-Treasurer.
The new group plans to have their first meeting in late September.
According to a release from the new organization, “All citizens living in the Trinity Lane and Whites Creek Pike area are welcome to be members. To keep out corruption that was in the old organization; new members will have to be voted on.”
Hylton’s charge of corruption stems from accusations that the leader of the group took hush money from developers to keep silent on a certain issue.
“How can we trust that person to be a true leader if they are shaking down developers?” asked Hylton who was referring to the original Haynes-Trinity Coalition head Winnie Forrester. “I found out she took $20,000.00 from two developers and had the checks made out to another Community group she heads up called the Haynes Heights Neighborhood Association. But to this day the community does not know how that money has helped our community. There is speculation she kept the money or has used it to finance her Metro Council candidate Kyonzte Toombs campaign with it. No one knows.”
He continued, “We will not operate the new Haynes – Trinity Neighborhood Coalition like that. We will meet once a month. We will be open and transparent in all of our dealings.”
The original Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition feels that the move is politically motivated. In response, the group filed its own registration on Monday under HTNC- Haynes Trinity Neighborhood Coalition TENNESSEE with Forrester as its communications coordinator.
Though the group is nonpartisan, opinions expressed on the group’s website and Facebook page have been decidedly anti-Hastings.
In a release, the original coalition stated, “The day before, on August 24, residents in District 2 received an unauthorized postcard in the mail with a return address using the Haynes-Trinity Coalition’s name referencing a website www. propertytaxtoombs.com targeting Mr. Hastings’s opponent, Kyonzte Toombs in the District 2 race. The website also attacks Winnie Forrester, a Coalition Steering Committee member using racial references.”
The site accuses the original coalition’s leader, Winnie Forrester, of being a “Rich White Woman from Kentucky who is buying up land in the Black neighborhood.”
Joyce George, a Steering Committee member of the original Haynes-Trinity Coalition said,
“We are in the process of hiring legal counsel to determine our options. We feel these recent events to attack a neighborhood coalition are very unfortunate and only serve to detract attention away from the real issues of our community.”
Both District 2 candidates say they are content to let the two organizations settle the matter and not get involved.