WSMV: Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Got a fun inquiry from a fan within the 4th estate. Up to this point, most of them have tried to delegitimize me even some going so far as to claim they have the right to tell others not to engage in the democratic process (or the right to be edited out- as a service to their readers). The scariest part about these misguided inclinations? They're from self-appointed defenders of the sacred process! Somehow, the argument goes that the political process is so sacred (yeah, where are they living?), you can't get involved even if you have a legitimate grievance if you have a campaign that does not spoonfeed them your platform. No nuance, no critical thinking, literally blunt steadfast unmoving bashing of bumper sticker slogans. They got a platitude attitude. So, im going Buffet (Jimmy) on them with Changes in Platitudes, Changes in Attitudes, with considerable latitude and CHIT, man, I might even go longitudinally and stick around for a while.


WTVF: Thanks!  Can you answer a dumb question on the record?  Is your campaign a joke? I know, I know - it's journalism man, I have to get two references just to say the sky is blue.


Sewell: its very good question. whats the word count you can allow me to answer?


WTVF: It just so happens we have a questionnaire -

  1. Biographical details.  Where were you born? Where did you attend school? Do you have a family? What experience do you have serving the public, including government, military, or volunteer work?  What do you do for a living? If you're not from Nashville what brought you here?

  2. What is your vision for Nashville's future?

  3. What is Nashville's most pressing problem and how will you address it?

Answer it however you like, but we are heavily editing the responses. These were mainly for candidates with whom we weren't aware, ballot access being what it is in this state.


Sewell: Im watching the kiddos right now, but will answer the questionnaire tonight after I get them to bed, if thats cool.

as an aside, because im curious: where have you seen any campaign coverage? i got the feeling the local press was trying to edit me out of the narrative! its been very discouraging from a faith-in-humanity perspective that so many have come out trying to delegitimize my arguments and saying i shouldnt be running at all. its a real bummer when it comes from people i would normally agree with on other matters.


Sewell: hey my man, sorry it took so long. feel free to cut it up as much as you want, even dropping the last little literary flourish, unless you think it helps illuminate. ive found that since the setup for the joke goes over peoples heads (even writers) the punchline lands flat.

WTVF Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire


Biographical details.  

Where were you born?

Baptist Hospital, Nashville, TN

Where did you attend school?

Montgomery Bell Academy thru junior year (high school dropout). I enrolled immediately into MTSU thru a program where they let you enroll in college during your senior year but I just didnt do the senior year part. Then they caught up with me after I had been there for a year and a half. So, I got my GED thru MNPS at Cohn Adult over on Charlotte Ave. After 2 years at MTSU (including a summer in Spain at the Universidad de Murcia), I transferred to University of Memphis, where I stayed for another 4 years, incl. a year in Spain (Universidad de Murcia again) and a summer in Quebec (Universite’ de Quebec a’ Chicoutimi). I got a BA in Foreign Languages (triple concentration: French, Latin, Spanish), a BA in Philosophy, and a BA in Political Science. Then I got an MA in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt (where I was also accepted into the PhD program for PoliSci, but did not pursue). I got into Mensa in 2003, while living in Memphis.


Do you have a family?

Married with 2 young kids whom I watch regularly as a part-time stay at home dad. My mom is a physician and medical consultant. My father died years ago after fighting degrading symptoms of MS most of my life.


What experience do you have serving the public, including government, military, or volunteer work?  

Served on my neighborhood board for years. Regular participant in subcommittees for UBC (the Carpenters Union), when I was a member and now for SAG-Aftra as a current member.  


What do you do for a living?  

SAG-Aftra actor, I recently wrapped on a TV show that was filmed here in nashville for two years with Billy Ray Cyrus and Joey Lauren Adams for CMT until they got out of scripted content. I also do design and drafting work for a cabinet and millwork shop in my neighborhood part-time. As well, I own an art-centric commercial property in the Wedgewood-Houston arts district where more than ⅔ of my spaces are rented at below market-rate in order to support the people and arts I believe in.


If you're not from Nashville what brought you here?  

If I weren’t from here, I would probably once would have been attracted to the once-vibrant old-school sense of authenticity that people find lacking in California or the East Coast. But then move here in droves, using lingo from the old west like it belongs in the new south, sounding like Yosemite Sam, but thinking Foghorn Leghorn. Then, seeing other people move here in droves, Id try to get in on the action and throw up some fast-casual architecture that’s mostly inauthentic disparate shapes of nonsense but cladding-driven in aesthetic and act like im helping out the dispossessed. But that aint me. Im from here. I was going to punk shows on Church St in the mid 90s when Mary Mancini ran an old all-ages club, getting harassed by rednecks and accidentally paving the way for copycat hipster yuppies to ape our style, and who want to tell us how advanced they are because they’re not from here. Did that sound bitter?


What is your vision for Nashville's future?

A more inclusive Nashville. City leadership has been (well, mostly not from here) and laser-focused on getting new people to move here at great social and economic costs for its current residents. We need to take care of our own first. We need to enlarge the proverbial tables: provide more seats, engage more stakeholders, entertain all ideas on their merits, no matter how wild they are. Honestly this town has gotten stale with its tired, pedestrian, uninspired ‘answers.’ They say they have a plan fi we keep them in the pilot’s seat- i think the leaders are lying- Nobody’s driving! They got busted giving away the store at rock-bottom prices and wonder why people are upset? So lets expose and expand the political landscape. Expand the public health system thru these cost-savings from the criminal justice network: legalize weed, decriminalization of drugs, decriminalization of prostitution, housing the homeless (cheaper in longitudinal studies than repeated incarceration). Provide new outlets for creative transportation problem-solving: more painters painting crosswalks, more traffic-calming sculptures in the 4-ways, shut down streets and make them into parks (like Deaderick downtown from Leg Plaza to Public Square), increase the greenways network, provide more intermediate size buses (not one size fits all) to reach outside communities, more park-and-ride mass transit options at the city limit with direct access to hubs downtown, propose wild ideas and have them dismissed on their merits, like CM Sledge’s idea for suspended cable cars! Let’s open our minds to new facts instead of intolerantly acting like we’re all damn know-it-alls. Go big with new and wild ideas and listen to each other. More inclusion requires more transparency in government as well as more accountability.  That means Metro departments should default to providing info instead of concealing it, and that starts with the top brass all the way down. Who are the shadow people with the backroom deals, and where does all the money go? The Mayor’s Office should lead by example instead of withholding info. Metro legal should ask what it really stands for. See the kleptocrats peddling public resources (Corruption) in the name of public service (Hypocrisy) to well-connected financiers (Influence) and then trying to make up the difference thru regressive measures (Taxes). We’ve got front-row seats to the show.


What is Nashville's most pressing problem and how will you address it?

The source of Nashville’s most pressing problem right now might be its own self-discouraging attitude honestly. We keep desperately searching for outside forces to move here and help us make it a great city. It already is. If no one else ever moved here we would be fine. Our ‘leaders’ have been so desperate to make new wealthy citizens that they have done so by scorched earth thru poorer neighborhoods; so eager to please developers that they have squandered the largest windfall this city has ever seen and pulled a shortfall out of mutual benefit. Don’t fan the development boom thru incentives but manage thru responsible growth. By wasting the opportunity to encourage responsible growth, we have let some of our most needy neighbors seen property turn a profit for the most-needless without protecting the resources that made the community a shared asset. We’re in a self-wrought fiscal crisis, where we can’t afford the fire sale anymore: if schools are taking a hit, why not hit up the corporations that benefited from that misappropriation? Be a leader and stand up for the citizens- if you’re asking teachers to take it on the chin, why not also go the business community to pay their fair share? Let’s impose a Living Wage to allow people to live and thrive in this town. Let’s be bold and impose a Maximum Wage of 50:1 (exec:median pay). Why just toss out giveaways for those that don’t need it- why not open the general funds to the general public. Monies generated through responsible corporate management (controlling excessive unsustainable compensation) will be reallocated to help the local businesses that actually benefit the most AND result in a better ROI through the multiplier effect. Grow our local small businesses by helping our large businesses be better neighbors.

Aside from the top-down attitude adjustment, We also put our blind faith in leaders. We look to the election of ‘progressive’ mayors and struggle to get past their lack of control. The previous storekeeps were drunk with power and overpromised under the influence of well-connected red-handed ambition. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, but we should focus on creating a climate of good policy, not cults of personality. I think one of the ways forward would be to save this town the charade of the political theatre: no more behind-the-scene deals done with developers for city land, no more kleptocrats masquerading as ethicists, no more shady influence and debts owed to dark money financiers, and no more self-contradictory taxes, where rates are established for the general public but carve-outs created for special interests. It’s a sham and a spectacle and until we can move past the drama, we must embrace it to expose it. The spectacle shines so bright in this town, that it would be a shame for entertainment value if the hitherto dramatically tragic comedy  were to miraculously wither away. For the many supporters of the CHIT show, I say “Dont be a Fool, Dont Vote for Sewell.”