Election 2016: McCall hopes to work toward solutions for Williamson


Election 2016: McCall hopes to work toward solutions for Williamson

Running as the only Democrat in House District 65, Holly McCall said she wants to push for better traffic and education solutions.

The sole woman running as a Democrat on the 65th House District ticket, Franklin’s Holly McCall said she wanted to focus on finding formulas and solutions to fix some of the state’s complicated funding issues.

McCall owns her own public relations company and previously worked as the marketing and communications director for Metro Nashville. While there, she focused on the Music City Center and infrastructure through the Metro Transit Authority. Previously, she worked as a journalist and covered government in Tennessee, Missouri and Ohio.

McCall grew up in Franklin and now lives in the house her ancestors built in 1890. She graduated from Franklin High School and attended the University of Tennessee, earning her political science degree.

She will face the winner of the Republican primary in November. Running right now for the August primary are Jeremy Durham and Sam Whitson. Fairview’s Stacey Givens has said she’s not actively campaigning, though she will still appear on the ballot.

When you ask Williamson Countians what’s the biggest problem they want addressed, it is traffic. What sort of traffic solutions do you advocate and how do you pay for them?

I got immersed into the subject working for MTA, and it’s pretty complex. Williamson County is one of the largest economic drivers in the state, and we have great local leaders. We can’t count on Nashville to fix our traffic issues. MTA proposes a big plan – buses on shoulders to light rail to connecting with Uber. People want that, but it’s going to be $5.4 billion in capital expenses.

You get what you pay for. Our legislators have not indicated a willingness to help pay for this. You cannot build enough roads. There are number of different funding mechanisms we can use to pay for transit. There’s the gas tax and toll roads.

You have revenue streams from transit-oriented developments. There’s traditional bond financing mechanisms. There’s a lot of ways to pay for it, and we need to explore them.

I do think the gas tax would be an easy way to find new money. It hasn’t been raised in almost 30 years, and even two cents on a gallon would help. That’s something the Republican super majority doesn’t want to even look at. I don’t want to say XYZ is the solution. But at this point I am open to examining all of them. To me, that’s the biggest issue facing this area.

Do you think there is school funding equity, and if not, is there a way to correct the funding formula?

I do not think there is school funding equity. I think traffic and transit is our biggest issue, but education may be our most complicated issue.

The BEP was last updated in 2007. There have been so many changes in the educational system since then, and there’s no easy answer.

I don’t know the answer now to fixing the BEP and I look forward to seeking input from parents and educators. We are fortunate in Williamson County to have good school systems and we’ve not suffered as much as Davidson County.

As careers evolve and STEM becomes more important, we have to find funding to train kids for the careers they need. Centennial High School has one of the best STEM funding teachers in the state. This is an education issue we have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of.

The legislative session is 90 days. Do you think the priorities based on the legislation and time spent on legislation is appropriate? Rank them on the most pressing issues facing Tennessee – health care, education, transportation, state economy, social issues and religion and culture.

The current session is plenty of time if legislators focus on important issues. I think the current legislature has spent too much time on solutions for non-existent problems. We have basic needs not being addressed, like transit and infrastructure and education. Meanwhile, the legislature has forgotten there is a separation of church and state.

The current sitting representative has repeatedly said he’s opposed to any form of ObamaCare and Insure Tennessee. Insure Tennessee was proposed by our Republican governor. We pay federal taxes but don’t get to reap the rewards. This mindset is cutting off our nose to spite our face.

All of us want decent health care. Not only would some in our district benefit, but our locally based health care businesses would.

Frankly, I think the legislature has forgotten how to do the right thing and treat people decently.

Here’s how I would rank our state’s issues:

-Transportation

-Health Care

-Education

-State economy

-Social issues

-Religion and culture

In legislation such as the bathroom bill, is that a case of our state making a statement or addressing a problem? Based on the consequences to North Carolina, do you endorse such legislation?

There’s no documented problem for this legislation. I don’t endorse it. I couldn’t have voted for it. There are too many real issues that aren’t getting addressed. I find it appalling that those who were for this bill have been complicit in sexual harassment issues. Voters can take just about anything but a hypocrite.

Williamson County will continue to grow. From the state level, how will you oversee it is done responsibly, and do you think the urban growth boundary system still works?

We’ve got really good local leaders in Spring Hill, Fairview and Franklin. If I win, I will be a freshman legislator. I am not there driving legislation out for my own personal gain. I am there to listen to what our local leaders have to say. Our UGB seems to function well, but given how many new developments are on the table, now is a good time to take a fresh look at it.

The legislature overturned affordable housing set asides at the municipal level. Do you think affordable housing is an issue and if so how should it be addressed?

We have a great place to live, and we are affluent. But part of what makes it great is a mix of people. I don’t think we want this to be a place in which middle class people – our teachers, fireman, police – can’t afford to live.

There are many studies available that show a mixture of income diversity is healthier for the community. We need to address it. The Community Housing Partnership of Williamson County is a wonderful program that we need to grow.

There’s no one answer to any of these questions, and this one issue, too, is complex. But one of my main issues is that local officials should have local control. There’s been a pattern of our legislators preaching small government, yet in practice, they interfere with locally-supported legislation.

Do you believe the state should enact its own legislation to discourage the presence of illegal immigrants and what kind of measures should those be?

The federal government has created laws for this, and we don’t need new ones. Apparently our legislators can’t tell the difference between refugees, legal immigrants, and those who come illegally.

This is another case where every level of government has a role. The federal government handles these issues, and we should handle the issues germane to them.

I’ve seen no evidence our district is burdened with illegal immigrants, but if somebody can show me evidence, some study or documentation that illegal immigrants in this district that are having a detrimental influence I will reexamine my opinion. We are the volunteer state, and we can’t take any refugees? Have we lost who we are?

When if ever would Tennessee need a full-time legislature?

We don’t need that. Ninety days is long enough if we tend to business. Ninety days should be enough if you stick to your knitting and don’t have legislation making pet skunks legal. This session was a monumental waste of time.

Do you prefer a complete elimination or a gradual phase out of the Hall Tax? Is there a way to replace the lost revenue to cities?

It has to be phased out while we look for another income source to replace it. My opponent is proud the tax is going away, but there has to be money to replace it. We all pay that one way or another.

No one wants higher taxes. I don’t. But we have to pay for the services we want, and our city leaders have been candid that the elimination of the Hall Tax creates a shortfall in municipal funds.

Do you think the legislature will be ready at the beginning of the session to deal with the Medicaid expansion question in light of the Insure Tennessee summer study and the comprehensive task force? What is your position on the expansion?

Given the current legislature, without some changes in November, I doubt we will see it addressed in a substantive way.

This is not a partisan issue. Our Republican governor supports it. Polls show about 67 percent of Tennesseans support it. Even 42 percent of people that identify as Tea Party say they support it.

In this district it’s important because there are economic ramifications. Major employers in our district – health care businesses – are losing money and being forced to close hospitals across the state because of the unwillingness to pass Insure Tennessee.

There was a bill to put this issue on the ballot for referendum, and Jeremy Durham shut that down. And that to me was one of the worst things he’s done. The right to vote on something is at the heart of America. For him to deny people the right to vote on it – much less access health care – is ultimately wrong.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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