The undersigned advocates for equity and inclusion and various members of the Nashville for All of Us steering committee support the transit plan and encourage everyone to vote “For” the referendum between now and May 1st. While there are a variety of needs we must address as a city to stem the tide of gentrification, inequity, and poverty, creating a mass transit system in Nashville is one of the most drastic steps we can take to reach that goal.
Nashville cannot hope to manage the enormous population boom that it will experience over the next 20 years without mass transit. If we cannot move people around affordably and efficiently, we will cease to progress as a city; Nashville will have truly failed its residents, businesses, and visitors.
As difficult as that would be for everyone, the brunt of that failure would be felt by those who make this city work; by those who serve in Nashville’s robust hospitality industry; by those literally changing the face of Nashville through development/construction; by the teachers who prepare our kids for the future, the first responders who keep us safe, and the healthcare staff who care for us; by those taking a huge risk to start their own businesses; by those paid minimum wage, struggling to make ends meet; by those working in the civic/social sectors of our society who assist those in great need; and by our friends, family, and colleagues who are trying to make a life here.
Like many Nashvillians, we are frustrated that this referendum does not include a comprehensive plan and funding source for affordable housing. Yet, we believe this transit plan will address one of this city’s most intractable barriers to equity and inclusion. Therefore, voting against transit’s success now, in the hopes that we will get both transit and affordable housing at some point in the future, is a risk we just cannot take.
That being said, the fact that Nashville has not come up with a comprehensive affordable housing plan that will confront the overwhelming need this city has is incredibly disappointing. We need to hold our government representatives and business/community leaders accountable for this delinquency. If we can push through a transit plan with a price tag in the billions of dollars, we can come up with an affordable housing plan at a fraction of a fraction of that cost. Creating mass transit is only one battle we need to win to banish the inequities in Nashville’s current infrastructure. However, it is a critical first step.
Also, while we respect the opinions of those folks who have legitimate issues with the transit plan, we cannot respect the motivations behind the out-of- state interest groups funding the (Lee Beaman supported) campaign to kill the referendum. N4AOU faced these same people when they tried to pass English Only. Now, just like then, their goal is to stifle progress in this city. Now, just like then, most of their funding is coming from out-of- state interest groups with the help of a handful of locals. Now, just like then, they are misstating facts and trying to confuse voters. But, if you are tired of hearing different groups saying they’re right and others are wrong, you don’t have to listen to anyone’s opinion (theirs or ours). Go to the following link, read the transit plan, and decide for yourself: Transit Plan link.
When Nashville for All of Us was developing the white paper for equity and inclusion during the Nashville Next process, we talked to people who had trouble finding and keeping jobs and accessing necessary goods and services due to the lack of a mass transit system. One refugee who had been in the city just over a year was quoted in the report saying, “Not having a car is like not having feet.” If that was true six years ago when the report was created, imagine this city in the coming decades as it grows by hundreds of thousands of people.
The future is in your hands, Nashville. So, get out and vote!
Tasha French Lemley
Mohamed-Shukri Issack Hassan
This statement is the opinion of the individuals listed above. Nashville for All of Us as a group has not taken a position on the transit vote.