By RACHAEL LONG
Derek Adams, 32, is Nolensville’s newest face on the Board of Mayor and Alderman. Adams — along with newly re-elected Mayor Jimmy Alexander and re-elected Alderman Tommy Dugger — was sworn in at the beginning of the board’s Thursday, Jan. 3 town hall meeting.
Adams was quick to jump into Thursday night’s conversations at the first meeting of the year which lasted roughly three and a half hours.
While the town hall meeting room was packed full of residents Adams will now represent, many more were not present. For those who didn’t make it, here’s a look at the town’s newest alderman.
Nolensville Home Page: How long have you lived in Nolensville?
Derek Adams: I live in Bent Creek. Let’s see, I moved in on my 30th birthday so just over two years, it was in August. So about two and a half years now.
NHP: Why did you decide to run?
DA: I’ve been a politics junkie for about a decade now, and I just started coming to some of these Board of Mayor and Alderman meetings and kind of was surprised by the passion that I felt for some of the decisions being made and how various businesses in town were being dealt with. I just knew I needed to get involved.
The plan was to run every two years until I won, assuming it would take about three or four tries, so to win my first try was just mind-blowing. I definitely did not expect it, but I’m thrilled to get started.
One of the catchphrases I keep repeating, even though it’s very true, is that I have a one-year old, a three-year old and a five-year old, and they’re going to go to high school here. So, my investment in this town is them and the fact that we’re all going to be here forever. We’re in our dream home, in our dream town, this is where we’re going to be. So I might as well get involved as soon as I can.
NHP: What are some of the top priorities you’d like to tackle?
DA: I think the beer ordinance is very anti-business. It drives away restaurants, nice bigger, sit-down restaurants. I think we’re tailored to have more of like quick dining type of restaurants, like Steak and Shake style, where you order up front or just some quick service. It’s not really like a full restaurant experience. I just think our beer ordinance drive away that restaurant experience that most people want, and there’s just not options here. Everybody goes to Cool Springs or they go to Nashville.
While I agree that the look and feel of Nolensville needs to be maintained, our design ordinances are too strict. They discourage businesses from coming to Nolensville, and it’s why all you see is residential growth, you don’t see any business growth. And we need the tax revenue from those businesses. We need big businesses to come here, and they want to come here, they do.
NHP: How did it feel to not have a second to your motion (which would have eliminated the time restriction on the beer ordinance)?
DA: I expected to not get seconded on that. I think our board likes their ability to oversee, and if it means bringing what they consider an experiment of Mill Creek in annually, that’s what they want to do. And I disagree with that, I think Mill Creek Brewery has done great things for our town, as is, but they’ve opened a full-scale taproom in Nashville and they have two more that they’re planning to open. They wanted to open that here, but they’re not zoned for it, they’re not approved for it, and that’s a lot of tax dollars that are out the door that I’d much rather have here in town.
NHP: What issues are you most passionate about as an elected leader?
DA: I lean conservative-Libertarian, so my passion is being fiscally responsible and very efficient. I think governments, in general, are some of the most inefficient bodies that have ever been assembled. We move at a snail’s pace, and I’m going to do everything I can to get things moving as fast as possible.
I think we have to focus on roads, and I want to get our fire department up and running. Also, we need to make sure the police are funded 100 percent of what they should be, so let’s do those things before we spend money on anything else.
NHP: What expertise do you bring to the board?
DA: I’m a software engineer, and with that comes a lot of problem solving. I’m what they call a “full-stack engineer,” so I do development from the business gathering side of it all the way to the development, the testing and the deployment.
I’m a very logical person, I’m a problem solver, and I get things done quickly and on time. I think that’s what governments lack all the time, those exact skills.
NHP: It seems that most of the other board members are many years your senior. Do you think your young age by comparison offers you any benefits?
DA: I think Nolensville is getting younger, I think that’s not a secret, and that’s a big reason why I won. I have an online presence — no offense to the other candidates, they ran great campaigns, but they weren’t as online as I was, and I think that’s a big reason why I won. I think the younger generations want a voice in Nolensville.
Traditionally, the older someone is, the more invested they are in the town, and I think the younger generations seeing me, a younger person with similar ideals gets them more invested, and yes, I feel a lot of responsibility to represent those people that have traditionally not been as involved in politics.
NHP: When you say you had an online presence, what does that mean?
DA: Just my Facebook campaign, I put out a lot of selfie videos about myself just talking about my positions and various ideas for the town. I was accessible. Also, one of my mottos was “Ask me anything,” which is kind of an internet thing anyway, and so just everybody knowing they could ask me any question if they saw me around town or online, and there was no mystery as to what my positions are, and I think you don’t get that with everybody.
NHP: What do you foresee as some of the biggest challenges facing a community growing as rapidly as Nolensville?
DA: 100 percent, our roads; we’re already behind the 8 ball. There are a dozen roads that should be three lanes, if not four. Not to mention we don’t have jurisdiction on Nolensville Road, which should be four lanes long before the state’s going to deal with it. It’s going to be a major challenge to the board to keep infrastructure to maintain pace with the residential growth. I mean, it obviously hasn’t happened already; they’ve been talking a lot about grades tonight. We’re at an F or a D, probably, at just about every road in town, and to me, that’s not acceptable. I’d like to get those things solved first.