THIS LENDS ITSELF TO SOME NEAT DESIGN WITH 3 PEOPLE Q&A
Three of the four candidates running to replace Keith Durbin in Metro Council District 18 all say they are supportive of a non-discrimination ordinance for Metro Employees.
The candidates are running in a district heavily populated by members of the GLBT community or voters who are generally supportive of those issues. In the 2006 state-wide vote on amending the Tennessee Constitution to specifically define marriage between a man and woman, voters in District 18 voted 69 percent against the amendment. It was the highest vote against the amendment in Davidson County.
The four candidates are seeking the seat once held by the first openly gay council person ever elected in Nashville. Out of those four – David Glasgow, John Ray Clemmons, Kristine LaLonde and Stephenie Dodson – Dodson was the only one who did not respond to e-mail questions by O&AN.
Below are two of the questions asked and the candidate response. Candidates are in alphabetical order. The responses have not been edited.
Question: Based on past voting practices, O&AN has identified a large number of GLBT voters in your district. If elected will you support a non-discrimination ordinance for all of Metro Employees? And if so (or not) why?
John Ray Clemmons, attorney.
Web site: johnrayclemmons.com
Answer: Yes, I will support a non-discrimination ordinance for all of Metro Employees. In fact, I will support any ordinance which promotes equality among the residents of our great city. Discrimination in any form is unacceptable, and I will not tolerate it.
The issue of equality in regards to the gay and lesbian community is personal to me and my family. A close family member of mine suffered from discrimination in this community several years ago to such an extent that he felt he had no choice but to move away from Nashville. Times have changed since then, but there still exists an element of discrimination towards many people of this city. No law-abiding citizen should ever feel unwelcome in Nashville. Because of attitudes towards my family member, I lost out on quality time with an important and dear member of my family for most of my life. Nashville cannot afford to lose the qualities and benefits of other men and women because of discrimination in one form or another. Our city must do all that it can to retain and attract hard working and talented people who add value and diversity to our community.
Stephanie Dodson, after-school programs coordinator and summer camp director at Percy Priest Elementary School.
Web Site: http://www.stepheniedodson.com
No response from this candidate.
David Glasgow, communications director for the Tennessee State Office of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
Web site: glasgow18.com
Answer: Yes – Metro Government should follow the lead of Metro Schools and many of our major corporations by providing equal protection against discrimination to all employees. Businesses are implementing similar policies because it’s a good business practice. Besides that, providing equal protection for everyone is also the right thing to do. As on any proposed ordinance, though, my vote will depend on the final language of the bill. As has happened in the past, sometimes well-intended legislation can have unintended negative impact on the people it was intended to help.
Kristine LaLonde, Belmont University professor:
Web site: http://www.kristineforcouncil.com/
Answer: I have a long history of supporting non-discrimination of all persons based on sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. I supported such inclusion in past positions and will do so in the future. I will, of course, need to see the specifics of any ordinance before the council before making a decision, but I will work for a society in which all people can work, learn, and live without discrimination.
Question: What makes your campaign different than the other three campaigns and what can you offer the residents of your district?
Clemmons: There are several ways in which our campaign is different from the others. These differences include my reason for running, our campaign strategy, and my priorities and goals as a member of the Council.
I am running because of my sincere desire to protect and improve to my family’s neighborhood and community. My wife and I have worked so hard over the years to be able to live in this area, and we want to do all that we can to protect it and improve it for our neighbors and their own families.
Our campaign is primarily focused on grassroots outreach and communicating with voters in person. My volunteers and I have spent the first month and a half of our campaign in the freezing cold, rain, and snow going door-to-door to meet and listen to voters. My one-on-one discussions with neighborhood residents have provided the foundations of our campaign’s platform, and a continuing open line of communication will guide my decision making as a member of the Metro Council.
My top priority on the Metro Council will be to protect and improve the neighborhoods of the 18th District and the residents’ quality of life. I will be a strong advocate for our neighborhoods and work tirelessly to protect them. My next priority will be to provide the 18th District with a voice on the Council on city-wide issues such as education, job creation, safety, smart growth, transportation, environmental protection, and many others which directly affect us all.
I can offer the residents of the 18th District accessibility, loyalty, leadership, and the personal qualifications, progressive mentality, and tireless work ethic necessary to accomplish those goals which I set out to achieve on behalf of the 18th District.
My only loyalties will be to the residents of the 18th District’s neighborhoods. This will not always be easy and will require open communication, leadership, and courage. I will remain open and accessible to the residents and our neighborhood associations, and I vow always to listen. I will show leadership on important land use issues which will sometimes require standing up to powerful institutions with vested interests. Additionally, I will demonstrate courage and take a stand when it matters just as I did when working to defeat the “English Only” legislation last month.
I have the public service background, political acumen, and proven progressive record to be an effective voice and leader on the Council. As an attorney, I understand how our government works. I have worked with leaders in every level of government over the last 16 years on a wide range of issues – legislative and political. This race is non-partisan, but I am proud to be a lifelong progressive Democrat who has supported and campaigned on behalf of Tennessee Democrats since my childhood. I will use my legal training, Columbia University education, and extensive political and legislative experience to effectively represent the interests of the 18th District.
Dodson: No response from this candidate.
Glasgow: What sets me apart and what I bring to the job of council person are my professional experience in community development and the breadth of my experience in the community. My day job is to bring community, businesses and government leaders together to improve the quality of life in communities across the state. Over the years, my personal time has been invested in support for local organizations that provide needed social services, like Nashville CARES and the Brooks Fund, St. Luke’s Community House and Greenways for Nashville. Living and working on opposite sides of the neighborhood, I also have good understanding of many local issues like traffic, safety and parks, almost everyday. Even though our property is outside the conservation overlay, we replaced an infill duplex with a single-family home that is a lot more in keeping with the scale and rhythm of our street.
I’ve volunteered my professional services on our neighborhood tour of homes committee and we opened our home for the tour as well. The combination of professional exprience and community knowledge provides me a significant leg up when working on issues in the district in the coming years.
LaLonde: I have a history of energetically supporting progressive causes and effective government. Most recently, I played an active role in the Obama campaign and in the fight against the English-Only ballot measure and am pleased to have leaders from those campaigns as supporters.
In my professional work, I am a professor of leadership studies for Honors students at Belmont University. The program engages students in community partnerships that help to improve both the neighborhood and the city as a whole, while teaching students the importance of service and active citizenship. I engage my students in adopting the best practices for achieving community consensus and progress and would employ those practices in my work on the council.