Nashville Metro City Council candidate Jeff Eslick joined The Tennessee Star Report’s Michael Patrick Leahy in studio Wednesday morning to discuss the latest twists and turns in the campaign and his views on addressing homelessness in Music City.
Michael Patrick Leahy: In studio, Jeff Eslick, who is a candidate for city council in the 11th district. Now there are several candidates in this race.
Jeff Eslick: Four.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Four, okay.
When I was in school and we had our civics lessons, it was all pristine and everybody was nice to everybody and they just, you know, talked about the issues. Are you finding everybody’s nice out there, or is there a little bit of, you know, smash-mouth politics going on, even at the city council level?
Jeff Eslick: Well, we have actually our first debate/town hall coming on Thursday. And that’ll be the first time all four of us have been on the same stage, same room, same thing. And no one’s really thrown rocks at each other so far. But I did have my campaign signs, seven of them. Vandalized on Wednesday night / Thursday morning last week.
Michael Patrick Leahy: That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. People are supposed to be nice. They’re not supposed to vandalize campaign signs, but it happens.
Jeff Eslick: It did. And I, you know, I think that’s the most activity early in the morning I’ve had since today. I started getting calls at about 5:45 a.m. or texts from friends of mine.
Michael Patrick Leahy: People were saying, I saw your sign and somebody vandalized?
Jeff Eslick: Yeah, direct messaging on Facebook. A bunch of my friends.
I did not know they were that early riser, but they were letting me know about it. Most of it happened on Shute Lane at Old Hickory Boulevard – right in that area.
There was one on Lebanon Road at Old Hickory Boulevard by the Waffle House. It’s actually on the Roto-Rooter property, but it’s directly beside the Waffle House.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now it’s illegal to do that, correct?
Jeff Eslick: It is a crime. It is vandalism, which equals theft in Tennessee. And I will prosecute once we figure out – I think I know who did it. I can’t say anything right now. We’ll have to wait until we see that everything catches up. That’s another teaser.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Well, we may have the answer before election day on August 3rd, but were you surprised that somebody vandalized – I mean this, it’s a race for city council, right?
Jeff Eslick: Yeah, I know. I was surprised. I mean, I think what it is, they saw my sign. Went to my socials, disagreed with my position, and decided to go after me personally. And it was about the homeless. I don’t know what I’ve said that made them so upset, but I don’t agree with what I’m hearing Metro is doing or wanting to do.
And the fact they wanna find landlords, rent houses, put homeless in the neighborhoods. They’re gonna need drug, alcohol, mental help, and spreading them out is not gonna be helpful to make that happen.
Michael Patrick Leahy: So it seems to me – and I’ve had conversations about this with the mayoral candidates – it seems to me there’s some of ’em trying to make it a complicated type situation. To me, I think it’s less complicated in the sense that don’t provide incentives to allow people to be homeless.
I mean, that’s kind of a common sense approach, right?
Jeff Eslick: I wanna look at it, and – I was in a meeting the other day and I was speaking with the councilperson that’s the head of the homeless commission – and man, what a thankless job that is.
Even in a room where people were on his side. It was throwing barbs. And I mean, I honestly, I feel like I want to be a part of that as well. Listening to what he was saying, there’s some parts that I like, I really like, there was some success that he was talking about with a motel over on Harding Place, where they’ve got services and security for everybody, because there’s a lot of crime that goes on inside of that encampment. Not just the drugs. There’s abuse and rape and several other.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Most who are homeless have mental health problems, or drug addiction problems, or alcohol problems.
I mean, they’re homeless for a reason. And I’ve always said as a city really what you wanna do is you wanna make it harder for them to be homeless in your city and give them bus tickets to San Francisco or someplace like that. That would be my policy. Well, but, but then probably, if I were to run for city council and, and, and have such a policy, I think my signs would be vandalized.
Jeff Eslick: They would be vandalized 100 percent for sure. But with the homeless situation, it is complicated. There’s no real easy answer. A lot of people talk about their just one step away from being back a citizen.
I think those people have services, and opportunities to get into that, that new home.
I think there are a lot of chronic homeless that really are more comfortable in the setting and looking at.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Chronic homeless who want to be homeless; correct.
Jeff Eslick: Right. There’s some nonprofits and a lot of they’re that are making it easier.
And I would like to go over the budget that we’re spending on the homeless and find out how we can kind of knock down that part and add to the homing part, the housing portion.
Michael Patrick Leahy: So here’s the big question for you. Let’s say you win. There’re 40 members of the city council.
I’m gonna guess that the other 39 members of the city council, of those, probably 35 of them, wanna go in the other direction.
Jeff Eslick: If you count the tax vote, it was 32 to eight.
So basically 32 for the tax, eight against it. So I use that as a benchmark.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Most of them want to do things to encourage homelessness, it seems to me. So what’s your plan gonna be?
Jeff Eslick: So when this happened, the first thought that came into my mind was “actions have consequences.” But I knew that wasn’t the point that I was trying to figure out. It led me to “inaction has consequences” as well. As voters, we need to read what these candidates for mayor are saying about the issues that mean the most to us.
I can’t do this by myself if I get in. I’m gonna need somebody at the top that’s gonna be for it. I worked with the Reclaim Brookmeade people, and I only helped them with some advertising. I was a one percenter when it came to the efforts and the work they did.
Michael Patrick Leahy: They were, they worked very hard on that.
Jeff Eslick: Not taking anything away; I love them all. They’re great people.
I was in the room with Senator Bailey when six SB 1610 came out of committee before it became law. I’m proud to have been there that night. That was a big move forward. Some of the candidates for mayor are saying, that’s unconstitutional.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Tell us what SB 1610 does.
Jeff Eslick: It makes it illegal to camp on state or city ground. So it’s the law that makes homelessness a crime, and you can’t live on state or city grounds.
Well, what else is there? I mean, private and, yeah. But if it’s private, then the codes department finds you.
But in the area where we’re talking about in Hermitage over there, behind the Exxon and BP and along the Kroger area that is Metro-land. It’s Wego land. And they are not finding themselves. And we’d be paying it anyway, so I don’t really know what win would that be?
They, we would just shuffle our own money.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Interesting. But it sounds like though, that your approach here would be to develop allies if you were to win. And then, I mean, the mayor will be elected, and it’ll be whoever it is. And so whoever the mayor is–
Jeff Eslick: Voters need to look; voters need to read. If you don’t want the homeless issue to continue to grow, read what the mayoral candidates are saying and vote appropriately.
Michael Patrick Leahy: And we won’t get into the pluses and minuses of each of those candidates this session. I have some views on that. And I’ve discussed them with some of our mayoral candidates, and not all of them have, shall we say, our point of view on this.
Jeff Eslick: No. Some, some are for it, I believe. I mean, but you know, one of the ideas that I had over there by the Kroger area, the old Charlie’s is closing.
That was announced not too long ago or this week actually. I wanna rent an apartment right there. Kids stand at that bus stop and they have to have a police officer there, so they’re not accosted by the homeless. I wanna rent the mayor, whichever one it is, an apartment right there. Or let them rent a space in that shopping center and let them work by it. And then I want to hear their views.
Michael Patrick Leahy: I like that idea.
Jeff Eslick: “Hey, it feels like noon now. I’m ready to go.”
Michael Patrick Leahy: You’re ready to go.
All right; where do people reach you on the web?
Jeff Eslick: JeffEslick.com. You can even call my home (615) 541-7664.
Michael Patrick Leahy: And you’ll answer your phone?
Jeff Eslick: It’s a voicemail. I’ll call you right back.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Oh, there you go.
Jeff Eslick, thanks for coming in.
Hey, listen, the election’s August 3rd, we’re gonna have to, Jeff, have you in at least one more time here.
Jeff Eslick: I’m in.
Michael Patrick Leahy: All right; Jeff Eslick, candidate for city council.
We’ll be back with more, after this.
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Photo “Jeff Eslick” by Jeff Eslick. Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Luckiewiki. CC BY-SA 4.0.