Metro Council At
Jul 19, 2023
This interview is a partnership between the Nashville Banner and NewsChannel 5. For more information, go to NashvilleBanner.com.
Well, you've been on the council before, but for those who may not know you, introduce yourself.
Okay. I'm Ross Pulley. And I've served on the council for this is my eighth year, I'm about to roll off in a couple of weeks. And, you know, in looking at what I wanted to do, in the next chapter of my life, when I left federal service, I wanted to do something service-oriented, and I didn't ever think I would be doing this. You know, I looked at teaching, coaching, youth development was very important to me, I had been involved in a neighborhood and I've been involved pretty significantly over Hillsboro High School, and through that made some connections and people tugged at me and said, “Why don't you consider doing this?” I really gave it a little bit of thought, then a lot of thought and once I wrap my arms around the issues with passion and felt like I really could make a contribution, then I decided to run. Now I'm at the end of my second term, and we're term-limited. So I looked at the at-large position, which our view is a completely different position from the District Council position.
In what way?
Well, district Council's constituent focus. And we spend a lot of our time responding to constituent needs, like, you know, the trash didn’t get picked up, stormwater problems. And the district, we've got some zoning matters, district council members are significantly involved in that, and other things like that. So at-large positions are more broadly focused. It you cover the entire city, you know, and you're elected by the entire city, not a particular district. So it's been quite a journey to introduce myself to people and, most importantly, to learn what's important in other areas of the city besides my district. So I'm looking forward to that challenge, if elected,
Do you think the previous district experience makes you better at perhaps lobbying, if you have a certain issue or, or a piece of a bill or something that you want to get passed by everyone?
I think it I think the experience of serving on the council helps in that arena, because it is important, I think one of the most important things to do is establish relationships with people, relationships to your colleagues, so that you can engage in conversations about legislation, even though you may look at things from a different perspective. So that definitely helps. Being able to establish relationships with three separate mayor's offices, that definitely helps, because there's, so you certainly need relationships there throughout that, and you know, establishing relationships with other governmental bodies is also something that is a value and understanding how the Council works. So I think I'm sure that will help me doesn't make me better than somebody that's not been on the council, you'd have to, you know, there's a lot that goes into that answer.
You took some strong positions during your time on council, pushing for more funding for police. I know the license plate readers issue, and against this redefining of family in the zoning code. Do you think you're going to have to change your policy positions at all when you're representing the county at-large?
I don't know, if you look at changing policy positions is maybe that's the way to phrase it. I do think that there is an element of representing the whole entire county where you have to look at things from a different perspective. I don't look at things from the perspective of representing District 25. In that position, I do think that they are guiding principles you enter the council with. So I hear from people who have different perspectives than those in my district now. And I do think those will help shape me in the future. I do think I do have the perspective I have on public safety. And, you know, I want fact-based discussions and when I enter into those discussions about county-wide policy, like life license plate readers and budget funding, my study and my perspective is not limited to the district. So I unless I can be convinced otherwise, I'm still firmly convinced that removing money from our police department is not something that I think is a good thing.
Would you add money? Would you add officers?
Surely I would. And I think working in conjunction with the police department is key to that. I think it's pretty clear they need more personnel. And I think you know, there are people who feel very strongly in the other direction. We also have adapted the way we police in the 21st century, as opposed to the way we did it before. Even in the last six years, I've seen that change. You know, with Chief Drake, it's more community-focused, we also have added two elements to policing that weren't there before. We have Partners in Care program where we have mental health professionals going out with police, that's expanding. And we now are introducing mental health people to go to certain places alone. Those are all, you know, very new, they're extremely new. And we're looking at those looking at expanding them how well are they working? What things do we need to do to change? So those are those are good things. And I, I also think that we still need more more police officers in order to function properly.
I've heard talk of a new training facility. You’re a proponent of that, in Atlanta, they wanted to do something like that, and people really pushed back. Do you think that we're going to run into that also in Nashville? And how would you deal with funding that?
Well, I think it's important to have a fact-based conversation around that we have a training facility that's significantly outdated, you know, built 60 years ago, we're having classrooms being held in a gymnasium floor. We've got practical problems being where our police are trained and practical application with a simulator, they don't have a facility to actually do this. Like, for example, in my days, in the FBI, we had, we had a village that we could go to, that was built specifically to simulate a mini city where we did our practical training. And I don't think anyone would be opposed to having exceptional training for those police officers who were put on the street to protect us. I don't see how anybody would be opposed to that, or want us to be training the people who are out there protecting us in in dilapidated facilities.
We just went through that with the Juvenile Justice Center, where I went and took a tour of that, and it was in terrible condition. And we needed a new one. And Judge [Shiela] Callaway, and now the juvenile court clerk, Lonnell Matthews, they made appeals to us. We got that at the Capitol at the top of the Capitol spinning list. And we're building that now. And I'm proud to say that we are because it's well, it's long overdue, considering the state of that facility. I think, a combined police and fire training facility makes sense, it makes sense to the leadership in both of those organizations. But regardless of what your stance is on whether we should have more or less, I don't see how anybody should be opposed to having state-of-the-art training for our first responders.
What would be your top priority going in this next time?
Well, it's a good question. I hate to really just sort of, say, a top priority. Yeah, I could put a couple of things that jump off the page at me. I think you've just addressed public safety is very important. You know, the Covenant shooting occurred in my district, and that hit home really hard to people in my neighborhood, my, my district and our city, as you will know, and that certainly has brought an element of safety as it relates to school safety, and the safety of our children and gun violence and things of this nature, to the forefront. There's a limit on what we as a city can do. But there are still things we can do to that may enable us to address gun violence a little better than we do. But the safety of our children in schools is important. I also think that transit is a big, big deal. Now because we're a growing city, you know, and we have density, we've got development, yet we don't have transit plan, dedicated funding for infrastructure, which is way behind I'm talking about decades behind here to address the needs of our city as it relates to transit. So that's a huge priority. I would think that, you know, either the two who are in the runoff for mayor, it's important to them, and as an at-large councilmember, I think it's very important that I get behind that get behind them and do what I can to push that so that we have a referendum coming before the citizens to exercise dedicated funding at the state and federal level and other areas where we could fund a robust transit plan which this city sorely needs.
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