NOAH is already a winner in Nashville Election

Posted by: Gordon on 7/16/2015

NOAH TN public meeting

NOAH Nashville's February public meeting with all Nashville mayoral candidates helped put the organization on the political map.

Early voting opened Friday, July 17 but no matter which of the 7 candidates for mayor voters elect, NOAH (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) is already a winner.

NOAH formally declared itself as an organization in 2014. The organization now counts 44 members including Jewish, Muslim and Christian congregations, unions and other institutions.

In addition to the mayor’s race, a local-hire ordinance for Nashville that the group has advocated will be on the ballot in the August 6 election. Leaders have met with many of the councilmanic candidates and been involved in vetting candidates for a new Nashville schools superintendent.

“This type of civic activism might look new, but it uses old tools of politics – careful planning, good focus, consistent message, understanding news media, mustering strength in numbers,” Nashville Tennessean columnist Keel Hunt wrote about the group’s candidate forum back in February. Hunt also noted the February forum, which drew all 7 mayoral candidates, concluded with every candidate signing on to NOAH’s issue platform.

The local-hire ballot initiation would require a minimum of 40 percent of employees working on any project funded by more than $100,000 in metro taxpayer money would have to be local hires from within the county according to Ballotpedia

Other issues NOAH has asked mayoral and councilmanic candidates to address include finding a $20 million funding source for an affordable housing trust fund, developing alternatives to incarceration, creating a police review board, and other issues. (see complete list below).

With 7 candidates in the race for mayor August 6, a run-off is widely expected. NOAH has already scheduled its next candidate forum for August 16 and secured commitments from the candidates to attend, and speak to how they can address the group’s recommendations.

“Nashville is growing so much, but poverty is keeping the same pace,” said Rev. Ed Thompson, an African Methodist Episcopal minister who is president and a co-founder of NOAH. “We have a problem with that.” He said while some measures show the city with 58 percent economic growth in recent years, they find poverty increased 42 percent.

“The candidates have made a lot of promises,” Thompson added. “That’s normal for politicians, but a lot of times you don’t have someone to keep them accountable. And that’s our job.”

Following is a list of the recommendations NOAH's leadership and members have asked mayoral and council candidates to address:

Affordable Housing

  • Identify a source of recurring funding for the Barnes Housing Trust Fund to generate at least $20 million per year.
  • Adopt an inclusionary housing ordinance that requires developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing in every - development or pay fees to the Barnes Fund.
  • Repurpose tax-increment and other public funding for affordable housing development.
  • Prevent displacement through home repair assistance, property tax relief for longtime residents, homeowner education and other efforts. -Create a well-staffed Mayor’s Office of Affordable Housing with voting representatives of NOAH and other community groups on its governing board, to insure accountability for affordable housing needs.
Criminal Justice & Mass Incarceration

Economic Justice
  • Develop alternatives to incarceration that incorporate services and training in mental health, addiction, domestic violence, children and youth, and homelessness.
  • Use civil enforcement, like tickets, instead of a criminal citation or arrest, when appropriate.
  • Strengthen re-entry services to aid persons in getting jobs and housing.
Social Justice
  • Address racial disparities and improve transparency regarding police stops and drug arrests. 
  • Create a citizen review board to monitor public concerns with the criminal justice system. 
  • Adopt officer training for de-escalation, cultural awareness and extreme situational awareness.
Juvenile Justice
  • Address racial disparities in school suspensions and referrals to Juvenile Court.
  • Establish a problem-solving center for youth issues to provide immediate intervention, assessment and services to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system.
  • Establish standardized, appropriate guidelines for school suspensions, and train school resource officers and principals about their roles in making referrals to Juvenile Court.
  • Create an automatic trigger for assessment of needs of students who are at-risk of suspension.
Economic Equity & Jobs
  • Publish yearly audits of all tax and financial incentives for public development that show money received, jobs created, pay and benefits of said jobs, and the distribution of jobs.
  • Institute practices that require publicly assisted construction projects to use Davidson County residents for a majority of the work hours, provide high-quality training programs, and support employers who pay a living wage and treat workers fairly.
  • Prioritize neighborhood accessible job training programs for current residents to fill immediate job needs in the city, with training that corresponds with local living wage jobs in demand (i.e. healthcare, information technology, financial services, hospitality, etc.).
  • Attach specific, tangible and measurable community benefits packages to development projects in high poverty areas that will aid low and middle income residents through equitable neighborhood economic development (ex. Implementing a community benefit agreements within the bidding process).
  • Expand the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development to include a task force to lead a community-wealth building initiative for low- and middle-income residents by reviewing equitable development models and building on employee-owned, co-operative businesses.
More details about the organization are at its website.
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