Howard Gentry is a native Nashvillian who has committed his entire career working to improve his city. Howard is running for Mayor because he believes it's time that our city work for every person and every neighborhood. As Mayor, Howard will fight for all Nashvillians by focusing on social equity to ensure that all of us have the opportunity to succeed with options citywide for affordable housing options, jobs and economic development, mass transportation, homelessness and poverty, literacy and education.
Howard graduated from Pearl High School and went on to earn his B.S and Masters degrees from Tennessee State University where he later served as Athletic Director, and VP for Community Relations and Development over the course of 15 years. Howard is a proud product of Nashville public schools and is the only mayoral candidate whose children are educated in our city's public schools. Howard strongly believes that quality educational opportunities should be available to all children and plans to make it a priority in his administration.
Following his graduation from college, Howard became a member of the TSU football and basketball radio broadcast team, serving for over thirty years in radio broadcasting also covering NASCAR.
Howard began his professional career in banking and built a local insurance company from the ground up. He also worked as CEO of Backfield in Motion, a nonprofit that combines athletics and academics to inspire inner-city boys to reach their maximum potential. In addition, he served as CEO of the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Foundation, an organization focused on the same social equity challenges Howard will take on as Mayor. Through these experiences, Howard recognized the importance of education in fighting income inequality with a well-educated and well-trained workforce.
As Mayor, Howard will dedicate resources and staff to work with public-private partnerships on existing plans to eradicate the problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness. His priority is to continue fostering the cities growth while making it accessible to everyone. Howard was elected three times to countywide public office. He served as Metro Council's first African American Councilman-at-Large before being elected Nashville-Davidson County's first African American Vice Mayor.
Howard currently serves the Nashville as the Criminal Court Clerk of Davidson County in the Twentieth Judicial District. His office is responsible for performing the clerical duties for the operation of the General Sessions and State Trial Criminal Courts.
Howard is the father of four daughters and is a grandfather. He drives his two youngest daughters to school each day and does his best to never miss a dance recital. Howard is a member of Temple Church and a former member of the First Baptist Capitol Hill.
Howard's mother, Mrs. Carrie Gentry, is a driving force in his life and well-known throughout the city.
What's the single, most important issue facing Nashville?
I'll name three issues:
Nashville must be better, not just bigger.
Could you identify the top three areas where Nashville needs to see change, and how you can help with the change?
Transit needs to start right now with multi-modal systems here in the city while planning with our regional leaders for mass, high speed transit to quickly move people in and out of our city. I will start work on that right away, because we cannot afford to wait. Walkability, better bike lanes and traffic systems to ease congestion are all things we can do right now. Our federal and state lawmakers had better get accustomed to hearing a lot out of me for partnerships on this.
Really addressing crime, especially domestic violence, is something I'm passionate about. That's something that has been talked about a lot in the past couple of years, but I keep seeing cases come through the court system. I want to bring the experts together – advocacy groups, law enforcement, our schools, and private interests – to find the best ways to say address this once and for all, including early intervention and batterers' programs.
As Mayor, I will be in our schools that need the most help to see how I can actually be of help. I want to encourage the students and the teachers to achieve excellence. I want to be their partner in that process.
In what particular area do you stand out as a mayoral candidate? How will this serve you well as mayor?
I am the most experienced of the field. I have dedicated my life to service. I have worked in banking, helping families and small businesses. I was Athletics Director and in administration at TSU, and I have worked in the nonprofit arena. As an executive at the Chamber of Commerce and as a citywide elected official three times, I have recruited big business like the Titans, Asurion and LP. I have served on boards and commissions like Fisk's Board, the Homeless Commission and Frist Center. I'll walk into City Hall and start working on Day One with no learning curve.
Why should a young person in Nashville consider voting for you?
I am the father of four daughters, the youngest being six years old. I am looking ahead to what kind of Nashville I want for her 20, 30, 40 years from now, not just right now. I'll be proactive, planning for the city of your future.
Who is your favorite music artist?
"There are a variety of needs within our public educational system. Charters have a place in that. The thing is, from my standpoint, it's just so important that charters that are brought online are charters that actually fit in those areas of need."
On Public Transit:
“We need to stop talking about easing congestion and start doing something about it. As mayor, I'll start working Day One for dependable MTA and multi-modal solutions including sidewalks, bike paths, an expanded Green Line/Blue Line Circulator and downloadable apps to let us know when our buses will be where and to allow us to pay our fares here in our city. I envision public-private partnerships to connect recreation, shopping and residential sites across this city with biking and pedestrian transportation means. Other cities have done this. So can we. All the while I will be working for a regional, shared responsibility solution for mass transit. We have a lot to do and no time to waste. Nothing should be off the table.”
On Affordable Housing:
“We do still have areas in the city that are affordable, have a lot to offer and are welcoming, though those neighborhoods get a bad rap. I'll work to change those perceptions and help those neighborhoods, like my own of Bordeaux, turn around so that more people will want to live there. I do understand gentrification and the problems associated with it. I believe everyone should be able to afford a decent home in a safe neighborhood with access to nutritious food, good schools and transportation. Inclusionary zoning is one part of the puzzle while working with MDHA, fully funding the Barnes Trust, and incentivizing developers to set aside a percentage of housing developments is another. We need a better city, not just a bigger city, and ensuring sustainable, affordable growth is part of that.”
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