Friday, June 29, 2007

Mayoral candidates split on residency requirement

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A residency requirement for Metro Nashville employees that was discontinued when Governor Phil Bredesen was Mayor resurfaced last night as a divisive issue in the race to be Nashville's next mayor.

Currently nearly half of Metro firefighters and one-third of police officers live outside Metro. At a forum organized by the NAACP, the six candidates landed all over the map on whether public servants should live in the city.

Vice-mayor Howard Gentry made the strongest commitment to return to a residency requirement.

"It supports our tax base. It keeps our salaries that we pay inside of our county. It'd be a bold move, but no more bold than the decision to let them move outside the county."

Councilman and former fire chief Buck Dozier said there are too many variables and personal issues that would negatively impact families. Councilman David Briley said such a rule would be unenforceable.

Candidates also focused issues in the African American community. They were all in agreement about redeveloping Jefferson Street. Briley also suggested a new museum that would house Fisk University's famous art collection, which is now in storage.

Answering a question about how to get more Metro contracts to minority-owned businesses, former Metro Law director Karl Dean suggested breaking them up so smaller businesses would get a chance to bid.

Early voting begins July 13th. Election day is August 2nd.