City Council Consolidation?

16 views

When the city of Nashville was merged with the rest of Davidson County in 1965, many small neighborhoods feared losing representation on the new Metro Council.  Racial minorities were also concerned that a new council would be too White.  For these reasons, a compromise was made that created Nashville’s Metro Council with 35 districts, each with a council member, and five at-large members who would represent the entirety of Davidson County [1].  This is how the Metro Council has functioned for the past 50 years, with each council growing increasingly diverse, reflecting Nashville’s growing diversity.  The lasting compromise has easily seemed to have fulfilled the goals of its founders, but has become a burden in conducting municipal business and should be reconsidered in favor of a more efficient, consolidated council.

 Forty members make for an extremely large city council, however.  To put it in perspective, there are only two cities in the United States with larger city councils: New York City, with 51 council members and a population around 8.2 million, and Chicago, with 50 aldermen and 2.7 million people [2].  This equates to each council member representing nearly 161,000 people in New York and each alderman representing 54,000 in Chicago, to Nashville’s representing only 15,600 citizens [1].  Granted, unlike other metropolitan cities – like Los Angeles – Nashville’s council members only work part-time and must maintain other employment to support themselves, as they earn only $15,000 annually.  Still, other cities make smaller councils work and represent more citizens.

Last week, Councilwoman Emily Evans, from District 23 (Belle Meade), introduced a bill to study the current Metro Council, examining not only its size, but also salaries, benefits, the effect of term limits, and other factors related to its effectiveness.  The extent to which this is a blanketed attempt to decrease the size of the city council is debatable, but the debate itself is not new to Nashville.  In fact, in 2005, then-Mayor Purcell introduced plans to reduce the total number of council members to 21: 20 districts and one at-large representative.  This number came from the original size of the city council, pre-consolidation with the rest of Davidson County [1].  This initiative, however logical, failed under fear that a smaller council would limit citizen access to their council member, among other factors.

There are strong arguments for and against a reduced Metro Council.  Many Nashvillians have become accustomed to having a personal relationship with their council member and seeing them out in the community [3].  Fewer members would mean that their time was spread more thinly, thus limiting access.  However, as Nashville is a mayor-strong city (from its city charter design), the volume of council members makes each significantly less powerful and less able to combat the views of the mayor.  A smaller council would make each individual member more powerful and better able to balance the strong power of the mayor.

Ultimately, Nashvillians have been spoiled with the personal attention paid to them by their council members.  A city council should be able to focus on larger, citywide issues, but the current system bogs members down in extremely local problems.  A smaller and more professional city council would enable the citizens to have a stronger voice in the legislative process and would be a better use of resources.  While the results of Evans’s study remain to be seen, it is clear that Nashville would be better off with a reduced Metro Council.  Enacting this, however, would require some council members to forfeit their seats in the consolidation of districts.  That, however, is unlikely.  Nashville will probably remain with its overly large Metro Council for years to come until politicians are able to put aside their egos and political careers for the best of the city.

 

Sources

[1] http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130204/NEWS0202/302040017/40-member-Nashville-council-too-big-Debate-returns

[2] http://www.newschannel5.com/story/20974172/study-could-examine-size-of-metro-council-and-compensation

[3] http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130211/COLUMNIST0101/302110031/40-member-council-pays-off-personal-service

[Image Source] http://tennessee.watchdog.org/2011/06/21/new-nashville-green-program-benefits-former-council-member’s-nonprofit/

About author

Ryan Higgins

Ryan is a senior from St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up with a grandfather who loved discussing politics, Ryan took an interest in politics from an early age. After working on several campaigns, he is now studying Public Policy with an emphasis in Education Policy, and spent last summer interning with Saint Louis Public Schools as a Policy Intern. Aside from politics, Ryan is involved in Vandy 4 Vision, is a campus tour guide, and volunteers regularly at the Dismas House of Nashville.

Comments
  • News37.Com#1

    May 7, 2019

    Wohh precisely what I was looking for, appreciate it for posting.

    Reply
  • Guess Romania#2

    April 27, 2019

    Very nice post. I definitely appreciate this website. Keep it up!

    Reply
  • Vans Romania#3

    April 27, 2019

    You made some good points there. I looked on the internet for the subject and found most individuals will consent with your website.

    Reply
  • adidasi tommy hilfiger#4

    April 27, 2019

    Nice weblog right here! Also your site rather a lot up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate hyperlink in your host? I want my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    Reply
  • small business ideas#5

    April 26, 2019

    Thank you for your article post.Thanks Again. Great.

    Reply
  • Wallace#6

    April 22, 2019

    What is the most convenient method to replicate my WordPress blogs to a brand-new organizing company?

    Reply
  • me suba#7

    April 22, 2019

    RKXCmH I reckon something genuinely special in this site.

    Reply
  • Justin#8

    April 20, 2019

    What is the best software program to design websites and blogs?

    Reply
  • John Deere Repair Manuals#9

    April 18, 2019

    Making sure you know all about News is just here.

    Reply
  • Randy#10

    April 12, 2019

    If someone like Julia Roberts or Natalie Portman had an individual blog site where they uploaded images of their trips or something, would certainly you still take them seriously as stars? Do you think celebs with personal blogs are less qualified and taken less seriously than those who do not? Furthermore, would you visit their blog sites to see what they depend on?.

    Reply
  • Tractor Workshop Manuals#11

    April 10, 2019

    very nice post, i certainly adore this site, keep on it

    Reply
  • Rickey#12

    April 10, 2019

    If you say admit to crimes (real or not real) on blog posts, can you be reported to the police and be tried on what is written online?. What if the crime was just a lie, and its a supposed crime you did in another country?.

    Reply
  • John Deere Diagnostic and Test Manuals#13

    April 9, 2019

    I am often to blogging i actually appreciate your site content. The content has truly peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web blog and maintain checking for brand spanking new info.

    Reply
  • like this#14

    April 8, 2019

    What computer brands allow you to build your own computer?

    Reply
  • John Deere Technical Manuals#15

    April 6, 2019

    An intriguing discussion will probably be worth comment. I do believe that you can write regarding this topic, may possibly not often be a taboo subject but generally individuals are inadequate to communicate on such topics. Yet another. Cheers

    Reply
  • this link#16

    April 3, 2019

    I simply want to mention I am just newbie to blogs and absolutely enjoyed your web blog. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with superb articles. Thanks for revealing your blog site.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *