The Mistake I Made When I Was 18

November 1, 2022

We have a Metro Council meeting tonight. You can review proposed amendments and analysis of the agenda. There is a public hearing.

When I turned 18, I made an error in judgment: I didn't register to vote. In fact, it took me several years to understand the value of my franchise.

Part of this was that my exposure to politics when I was younger was primarily TV.

Now, with social media—I can't tell you how many people send me videos of teens on TikTok discussing politics—I feel like I'm even more accessible than local elected officials were previously. In some ways, this makes local politics even more local.

Still, though: we watch turnout correlate with the cycle. Big national contests draw the greatest attention from voters.

Meanwhile, state legislatures and local elections are really where the action is. There are multiple contested state house and senate races in Nashville this cycle.

And this will also be Nashville's first election without a single congressional district in my lifetime.

But let's say you're like I was when I was 18 and you don't like "politicians." Well, you can still vote to improve our state constitution, including by voting to abolish slavery—an initiative that has rare bipartisan support.

So don't make the mistake I made when I was 18. Take a look at the sample ballot. Make a plan. Use your voice. Vote.

What's Happening

  • Public Hearing
  • There's another pretty impactful tree bill under consideration. I'm generally supportive of protecting our urban canopy in reasonable ways, but I do want to make sure that we've vetted concerns with multiple stakeholders for something that will have broad impact. [BL2022-1409]
  • CM Sledge has proposed reducing parking minimums in the Urban Zoning Overlay. This does not prohibit parking; it means that Metro does not require a minimum number of parking spaces. Parking is a considerable expense for new projects, and we have more capacity to build more affordable housing in some circumstances by not requiring more parking than is necessary. This policy has been in effect in downtown for more than a decade. Despite that, we have an inventory of about 48,000 parking spaces downtown. When communities and markets can work together to determine need rather than Metro using decades-old formulas, we get better outcomes. And the principle of induced demand lets us focus on building better streetscapes for people as well as transit service. We've had some very good community discussion about this approach in District 19 so far. [BL2022-1412]
  • There are some tall buildings proposed for 2nd & Peabody. This proposal has generated some controversy because the location is sandwiched between unrestricted height and pretty constrained height. [BL2022-1446]
  • We are trying to work NDOT earlier into the design review process for projects in the Downtown Code. [BL2022-1472]
  • I'm still interested in the rationale for CM Rosenberg's proposed update to "reasonable accommodation" measures. [BL2022-1473]
  • Though I'm fully supportive of some proposed senior housing with support from the Barnes Fund in my own neighborhood, I'm frustrated that the project team didn't follow my guidance to start the community conversation before filing their application with Planning. As a result, we'll be deferring to give more time for consideration of community concerns. [BL2022-1490]
  • We'll be considering the first rezoning request in the residential portion of Napier since I've been in office. I'm considering this from a long-term property owner, and I know Planning has reviewed it carefully. [BL2022-1495]
  • We have many landmarks proposed for District 19 that are supporting an important new preservation tool—transfer of development rights.
  • We'll have first formal consideration of the proposed new stadium deal with the Titans. This got deferred in committee, so expect it to get deferred on the floor tonight. There seems to be a good collaboration between the administration and CM Mendes's stadium committee. [RS2022-1827]
  • We might've reached a deal on RiverChase. [BL2022-1140]
  • I intend to review the work history of our now-defunct Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee with NDOT and ensure it's compatible with an expansive view of the concept of Vision Zero and will defer our BPAC resuscitation bill. [BL2022-1449]
  • As we "dedicate" revenues to affordable housing, I'm thinking about ways we might also do this for transit. [BL2022-1381]
  • I'm still struck that the mayor is pursuing privatization of parking management, an approach he once called one of the most "anti-neighborhood policies you could even think of" and swore not to send to Council when he was mayor. I'm for the modernization, but I would prefer to keep management of the program in-house. [BL2022-1475]

What's Coming

What I'm Hearing

  • So many residents feel like Metro is not protecting them from the disruption of growth, particularly with regard to noise and right of way access during construction.
  • People are very engaged in the discussion about the proposed deal with the Titans, and there is no consensus among constituents I've spoken with. I do hear a lot of concerns about priorities.

What I've Been Up To

  • I was honored to be able to join St. John's Lutheran Church for their first worship service back in their church building after the tornado. The rebuilding process took 973 days. There's a way in which all communities—including communities of faith—impacted by the 2020 tornado are bound together. A few churches in District 19 are still rebuilding.
  • I took our 5yo to the Open Streets Festival on Main Street in East Nashville on Sunday. She rides her Radio Flyer big wheel in our neighborhood occasionally, but I've never seen her ride like she rode the length of Main Street when she could rule the road. She was pedaling her little heart out. Our streets are public rights of way, and it's great to see them full of people.
  • I joined Germantown residents for the grand opening of the Assumption Germantown Sculpture Garden that also marked the occasion of Germantown being recognized by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council as an arboretum. Swing by 1213 7th Ave N if you'd like to check it out.
  • We had the first community meeting for a proposed Barnes funded senior housing project in Salemtown. I wish the project team had started this conversation sooner, per above.
  • I got to join some AP government sections at USN to discuss civic participation and engagement. There were some very good questions! About transit, traffic, Titans, and more.

What You Can Do

  • I already told you: vote! Early voting (you can vote at any location!) takes place through Thursday, Nov 3. Election Day (you must vote at your precinct, which might have changed since redistricting!) is Tue, Nov 8.
  • I'm very excited to copy/paste my answers from every other survey I've taken about downtown and mobility over the past decade, but you might as well take the opportunity to fill out the latest Connect Downtown survey.

I already voted. But since a few people have asked: neither the mayor's race, vice mayor's race, nor any Council races are on this ballot. Look for us next August.

My best ...


Freddie O'Connell

Metro Council, District 19

Mayoral Candidate, 2023


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