Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed independent mayoral candidate for Nashville, Fran Bush in studio to talk about affordable housing and campaign financing.
Leahy: It’s so much fun interviewing our good friend Fran Bush. Fran, you’re running for mayor.
Leahy: Your priorities, we’ll get to your priorities and your funding. So, number one, more police officers, more money for police. What are a couple of your other priorities as mayor?
Bush: The thing that keeps popping up all the time is what the big affordable housing here in the city.
Leahy: The big A, affordable housing.
Bush: We have to address this issue, and there are so many different ideas that I have if I’m elected for mayor. And I’m one of those that I am a listener and then I execute. So I’m going to be able to identify more resources for affordable housing. I’m going to be really involved because I have worked with developers, and they want to work with you, and they want to work with a community.
And so I want to come up with ways that we can really work together and really tackle this affordable housing in different ways. I think some of the things that are happening now are working, but there’s so much more we can do, and I have so many ideas to get the work done for affordable housing.
Leahy: What would one of those ideas be on affordable housing?
Bush: With affordable housing, it comes with, again, you have to have built relationships and building those relationships, because I have been an HOA president for so many years.
Leahy: Hold it. You’ve been a homeowner’s association president? Oh, my goodness.
Leahy: Oh, my goodness. So you live in a development, and there’s a homeowners association, and you’re the president of it?
Bush: Yes, president. I’ve been president of not only one newly developed community but two. So I had an opportunity to really build relationships with those contractors, those developers. And when you build relationships with developers, they want to work with the community.
And a lot of times we don’t really know that. We think, oh, they’re going to buy the land and they’re going to build. No, it’s much more relationship development in that process. So when these communities were being built, I made sure sidewalks were put in. I made sure we had a greenway, and we had space in places for our kids. I was very instrumental in working with developers to make sure that happened and held them accountable.
Leahy: Those are your top priorities?
Bush: Some of them, yes.
Leahy: Some of them. Let’s talk about money. Some of your opponents have already announced they’ve got a million bucks in the bank. How much money do you think it will take to win the August 3rd election or to get into the runoff?
Bush: I personally will say this. When I first ran for school board, I didn’t have a lot of money. What I did was I had a heart and passion for people, and that actually filled that gap, should I say, because it was about the votes.
So I touched people and I was able to identify that. I’m just like you. The only difference is I want to be your leader. If I have to fill that financial gap, that’s okay, because the most important thing for me is to be very intentional about working in the community and touching people. I’m just like you. I work every day.
I put food on the table for my kids. I support my kids and my husband. Just be a part of society and be able to be a leader that has experience. And that’s what you want in your next mayor. You want someone in Nashville that can regain the trust of their mayor.
And because of my history on the school board and being able to execute, be able to make a difference, and be able to change laws. I changed the law. Students can’t go back virtual unless it’s absolutely if there’s some type of emergency. And even then, it’s very limited time to be out of the classroom. So because of my fighting stance down on the local level, the legislature made a law.
Leahy: Other candidates have said to win or to get into the runoff, there’ll be an election on August 3rd. If no one gets 50 percent of the vote on August 3rd, then the top two finishers go to a September 13th or 14th runoff election. Most people that I’ve talked to and most candidates say you’ll need $2 million to be able to do that. Do you have an expectation that you can raise $2 million for Fran Bush?
Bush: You know what? I’ll be honest when it comes to the financial gains of running a campaign, sometimes it’s a turn-off and not just people, but I think Nashvillians want to send a clear message that they want the right person as their next mayor. The financial piece is not as important.
They’re wanting someone that can really be a leader and be able to move the needle in the city. As far as all the issues that we are having that we need to address, and not even just issues, but things to continue to move our city in the right direction.
Remember, probably 70 percent of Nashvillians are not millionaires, right? They’re people just like you and me. And they don’t care about the money. They care about substance and who can lead the city.
Leahy: I think the issue with the $2 million is it’s sort of the nuts and bolts to be able to get your message out. There’s going to be at least 10, maybe more people running, and there are just so many people you can talk one on one to.
So to get your message out, you’ll have to do radio, direct mail, digital marketing, and maybe television. Maybe. And if the other folks are spending $2 million, $3 million, $4 million, and you’re spending, how much do you think you’ll spend?
Bush: I’m going to have several fundraisers throughout the city. My goal is to do a lot of digital marketing. Social media is where my platform is. Social media, social media, social media. My website is franbushformayor.com.
People can go there. They can donate to my campaign. If you believe what I’ve done for the past four years, and I have made a huge difference, and you believe that I can do the same thing for my city, for our city, then please go and support me.
Leahy: So, a lot of our listeners are saying, you know, I’d really like to have somebody who isn’t a left-wing lunatic for mayor. And you’ve demonstrated that you have common sense. You’ve demonstrated that in your four years on the Metro Nashville School Board.
But they also say we need somebody who can win. And to win you need $2 million. You are not quite getting to how much money you have in your budget or that you think you’ll be able to raise. Can you give us an idea of what you think your budget will be?
Bush: And again, it’s so up in the air with what budget I will need. Again, the donations are definitely greatly appreciated and needed. But I’m very strategic in how I reach people. So I’ve done it and I know how to get it done. Again, my platform if I don’t raise a million dollars or 2 million, my goal is to reach people. And my message will resonate throughout the city because of social media.
Social media is pretty much the prime time right now. That’s where everybody is at. They are on their phones all day and scrolling and being able to do their own research. So I don’t really have a complete budget. What I do have is that I will have a budget and a plan to get there.
Leahy: What do you think that minimum number is that you’ll be able to raise between now and the election?
Bush: $1 million and $2 million, that is a stretch for me, I don’t have that. In my head, I would say half a million.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Fran Bush” by Fran Bush.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to talk about the growth in his county and being accessible to the community and new California conservative refugees.
Leahy: In studio with us, our good friend, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. Andy, Maury County is experiencing huge growth. This is good. And this is problematic as well.
Leahy: In the past month, I guess since you were here last, here’s what I’m noticing. I’m noticing, at least in Nashville and in Williamson County, maybe it’s the good weather, but I’m noticing that real estate houses are going very fast A. And B, I’m hearing from Realtors that the asking price is not what the closing cost is. That people are bidding these things up by five to 10 percent. At least that’s what I’m hearing in Nashville and in Williamson County. And the reason is California money. That’s what I’m hearing. What are you seeing in terms of growth in Maury County?
Ogles: Yeah. I mean, we’re growing. So when you think about Maury County, we have Spring Hill, Colombia, Culleoka, and Mount Pleasant. Those are kind of your larger areas.
Leahy: I am almost one of your constituents. Our mailing address is in Thompson Station. I live in the city of Spring Hill. And as you know, I think about a third of the city of Spring Hill is in Maury County and about two-thirds of it. I don’t know the exact numbers in Williamson County. So I’m just a couple of miles away from Maury County. Spring Hill is, in essence, sort of an extension of the Nashville suburbs.
Ogles: That’s right. And when you think about Maury County, you think about the growth. The Maury County side of Spring Hill in the last couple of years has actually been the part of Spring Hill that’s growing the fastest.
Leahy: And why is that?
Ogles: Well, there’s a couple of reasons. One is it’s a little bit cheaper to build a home in Maury County than it is Williamson County.
Leahy: Why is it cheaper to build a home in Maury County than Williamson County?
Ogles: So Williamson County has some impact fees that a builder has to pay that immediately is layered on top of the price of the home. So since the building a Maury County, for that reason alone, it’s a little bit cheaper. And then just supply of land. The Williamson County side grew first. You have greater density up there. Now the Maury County side of Spring Hill is growing. But that being said, now what you’re seeing is that the northside of the county is growing. The midsection of the county is growing.
Leahy: That midsection would be around Columbia.
Ogles: Columbia, the downtown area. But then also out in the country where I live the southern area. So there’s a road called Morrow Lane.
Leahy: I know it well, it’s just south of Columbia.
Ogles: That’s right. And there’s about I don’t know, seven or eight lots there. And all of those houses that are going up are in the 425 to 450 range, and those houses are selling before they’re even done.
Leahy: So it’s a hot real estate market there.
Ogles: It’s booming. And then I have a friend that was looking at a house there in Columbia and been on the market for a day, and they were scheduled to go see the house today and it’s already sold.
Leahy: I’ve heard that.
Ogles: With multiple offers.
Leahy: I’ve heard that story so many times here from friends that are looking for houses. And I do get a bit of how shall we say, I wish that California money would stay in California.
Ogles: Yeah right. Well, I will say that we’re seeing the same thing in Maury County that Williamson and Nashville are seeing folks from New Jersey, New York, California, Wisconsin, and a little bit out of Washington.
Leahy: Washington State.
Ogles: Yeah, but they’re refugees that they’re conservative refugees that are leaving the state for lack of a better term because they felt persecuted. But I’ve been rather outspoken. And so a lot of these folks will seek me out and say, hey, we’re California. I just want to say thank you or whatever, and I just feel like, okay, pause. Wait a minute. You left for a reason. Please don’t Californicate Maury County, Tennessee.
Leahy: Now how do they respond when you say please don’t Californicate Maury County?
Ogles: You can kind of self-deprecate, kind of make light of a situation, but they acknowledge the truth that yes, we know we left. Don’t hate us because we’re from California. Don’t hate us because we’re from New Jersey. We’re here because we agree with you. We agree with Tennessee.
Leahy: Well, now let me follow up with that. In theory they agree?
Ogles: They agree.
Leahy: Okay. Now Let’s get down to it is the next thing they say. Why don’t you have X, Y, or Z?
Ogles: Well back home this is how we do it. Well you left back home and you are in Tennessee now and it’s cheaper to live here because we don’t do it that way.
Leahy: Do you get a lot of that?
Ogles: Again, I think most people recognize that, especially like California. Yes, they have X, Y, and Z, but it’s not sustainable. It’s not working. You can’t continue to rob the taxpayer to fund these rainbow and unicorn programs and not realize that at some point you just run out of money. And that’s what our federal government has been doing.
Leahy: In the course of your typical week in Maury County, how many people do you run into that are new residents of Maury County?
Ogles: It’s a lot. I mean, it’s daily.
Leahy: Daily. Every day.
Ogles: I try it in the morning. I don’t get to do this every day, just kind of full disclosure. But I like to spend whether it’s a little bit of time in the morning or kind of during lunch, a little time on the square, just sitting outside. I’ll be on my phone, answering emails. But one, it’s just good to get some fresh air.
Leahy: So hold on. You are the mayor of Maury County. And so the way you hold sort of public hours, I suppose you could say is you sit on the square?
Ogles: Well, my office is on the square.
Leahy: It’s inside the big building, the inside the square.
Ogles: But I like to be accessible. So it’s not free time so much because I’m responding to emails or I’m on the phone, but I’m there.
Leahy: Is there, like, the mayor’s bench?
Ogles: (Chuckles) No.
Leahy: Where do you sit? How do people know that you’re the mayor of Maury County?
Ogles: Well, the coffee shop there is right next to my office. So I’ll sit out there on their bench.
Leahy: So you sit on the bench outside of the coffee shop?
Ogles: That’s right. Or outside of Puckett’s.
Leahy: Okay, so there you are in your smiling and answering emails, doing work. Do people come up and say, hey, mayor, what are you doing about X, Y, or Z?
Ogles: No. I mean, in Maury County, we’ve got a great County Commission. They’re not always going to agree with one another, but fiscally conservative trying to manage this growth without raising taxes. And we try to be proactive. So we’ve invested in things like our emergency services because, again, we’re growing so fast.
I would think, by and large, that most individuals in Maury County, like where we are and where we’re headed, with the exception of maybe some of the transplants that don’t quite get that you’re not going to have recycling services out in the rural part of the county. It’s just not feasible to do that. We do, however, have recycling centers that you can take it yourself, but we’re not going to come to pick it up.
Leahy: But how do people know that there’s the mayor hanging out on the bench by the coffee shop in the square?
Ogles: Well, because of The Tennessee Star. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: But this is radio right? Do you put a sign the mayor is in? (Chuckles)
Ogles: No, not at all. Actually, it’s funny when you’re out there, it’s not my most productive time because I end up talking to people kind of back to back, but it’s good. That’s the part of the job that I love. I spent a lot of my time chained to a desk, answering emails on the phone, being an advocate for Maury County with the legislature with the governor’s office. So it’s nice to be out in the public and actually just have a conversation.
Leahy: So when was the last time you were out there on the bench by the coffee shop on the square?
Ogles: Yesterday morning.
Leahy: Describe one of the people that came up to you.
Ogles: One of my fun interactions was just an older gentleman, not someone you would assume was maybe in tune with what was going on was somewhat disheveled.
Leahy: Did he recognize you?
Ogles: He sat down and just said, I appreciate all you’re doing.
Leahy: That was it.
Ogles: He was just plain and as a matter of fact about it. And didn’t need anything, didn’t want anything.
Leahy: Oh, don’t you love those kinds of conversations? But you’re actually very good at dealing with people that are asking questions or want something. It’s different. Like doing a radio show, you just get to talk, and you don’t have to do anything. You just get to talk. You actually have to do stuff.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.