Voter Guide

Find Your Races

Metropolitan Nashville Council District 23

The Metro Council includes 35 district council members elected by voters in their districts to four year terms, with a limit of two consecutive terms. Candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a resident of Davidson County for at least one year, and a district resident for at least six months.

Voter Guide

Candidate picture Choose Chosen

Thom Druffel General Manager, Holiday Inn Vanderbilt

Biographical Information

Education B.S., Business and Hospitality Management, Florida State University; M.B.A., Finance, California State University, Long Beach
Occupation General Manager, Holiday Inn Vanderbilt
Campaign Phone (615) 456-2379
Age 67

1. What qualifies you as the best candidate for this office?

My experience as a leader sets me apart. I have managed around 40 hotels nationally, and I serve on the Board of the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association. This experience in the hospitality industry has given me strong financial and budgetary skills, which I think are necessary for a successful Metro Council. Meanwhile, as Nashville schools strain from the influx of new students, we need experienced education leaders to help manage our growth – I helped build the nationally-recognized Academies of Nashville for Metro Schools, and I was awarded the CEO Champions Award by MNPS. Finally, I have been a community advocate for years. I am the Treasurer of the Purple Heart Homes Foundation, which provides home improvements to veterans. I also serve on the Mayor’s Advisory Board on Exceptional Education and as a Special Olympics Tennis Coach for Davidson County. I am always willing to stand up for my community, and I have the experience and tools needed to make that commitment count.

2. If elected, what will be your three highest priorities?

First, I want to protect the character of our community. I believe that Metro Council ought to be more responsible in balancing growth with community development. To accomplish this, we would take a look at policies utilized in other cities that have been successful in striking a better balance. Second, I would adopt a proactive approach when dealing with issues of infrastructure and transportation. Our roads and infrastructure are already insufficient; these problems will only get worse as more people move to our city. In order to tackle these issues, we must think creatively and collaboratively, considering input from all of our communities and neighborhoods. Third, I would place a more serious emphasis on financial accountability and transparency. As our city accumulates more and more debt, some areas of the city are benefiting more than others. Metro Council should encourage greater transparency so that the people of Nashville know exactly where and why their money is being spent.

3. What are the most pressing issues facing the public that you plan to address?

Most of voters’ concerns in my district seem to be financial. Their perception is that resources are not coming to our neighbors – they are concerned about a “one-way flow” where our taxes are going to the downtown “hot spots” without any reward for us. They’re also concerned about the level of debt our city is in and about the lack of a balanced budget. If elected to Metro Council, I would advocate for the needs of my community and for greater transparency to eliminate “one-way flows” and let our people know what their money is being spent on. Also, I would lend my budgetary and financial knowledge to help us achieve more reasonable levels of spending and debt. In terms of city-wide issues, one big item that we must address is affordable housing. I would focus on developing a plan to combat affordable housing which centers around a long-term approach and utilizes public-private partnerships to achieve the level of creativity and efficiency that the project requires.

Voter Guide

Candidate picture Choose Chosen

Mina Johnson Community Volunteer

Biographical Information

Education Graduate of Japanese Public-School System, ESL Class at Emory University
Occupation Caregiver to family member, Corporate interpreter and bilingual (English/Japanese) recruiter, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at Omni Netherland Hotel, General Manager of Restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, Accounting Assistant
Campaign Phone (615) 429-7857
Twitter @MinaforCouncil

1. What qualifies you as the best candidate for this office?

My experience as a current Councilmember for the past four years equipped me with institutional knowledge. Prior to serving as a Councilmember, I had been involved in community advocacy since I moved to West Meade almost 20 years ago and attended countless Planning Commission meetings. I possess extensive knowledge on community character manuals, community plans, zoning codes, subdivision regulations, and was heavily involved in shaping Nashville Next, a plan that provides the guiding principles on planning and zoning decisions. I have collaborated with Council members and various departments’ staff even before being elected to serve on the Metro Council. I am accessible to my constituents via my e-mail and cell phone at any time. I understand that each of my votes on resolutions and ordinances will have a great effect not only for my District, but also for all of Metro Nashville. I am committed to continue to serve our city so that it works for all in the most equitable way.

2. If elected, what will be your three highest priorities?

1. Preservation and protection of neighborhoods – With Nashville growing at a rapid pace, preservation of natural resources, open spaces, and historical structures are more important than ever. I would like to continue protecting the neighborhood character that many of us appreciate and enjoy.

2. Hillwood High School - The plan to move the existing Hillwood high school to Bellevue is underway. However, currently, there is no specific plan for the property after the high school is vacated. I have been working the last few years with the community, MNPS and the administration to keep the Hillwood property for the best use for the community, as well as having the community play a key role in deciding the best use for the community.

3. Transparency and accountability – As a Council representative, I pledge to be open, honest and accountable for my actions. I will continue to mandate better transparency and accountability within Metro Government.

3. What are the most pressing issues facing the public that you plan to address?

Overall providing livability and quality of life for all in the most equitable way – finding solutions for affordable housing; replacing aging infrastructure; addressing our traffic congestion and finding workable solutions; working together to achieve an affordable transit plan where the majority will benefit; traffic calming solutions for our cut-through streets in our residential neighborhoods; providing walkability; safety for our city; retaining our public workforce – teachers, firefighters and police; providing quality education and improving our public school system. But it all comes down to how we list the priorities on the Metro Budget. Each year, the Mayor proposes his/her budget by May 1st, and Metro Council is required to amend, adopt or substitute a budget by the end of June. There needs to be a longer and larger conversation not only during the month of June, but all year as to how best to spend and save tax dollars.