Main Street Nashville

Council Conversations: Courtney Johnston



This week’s installment in our series of conversations with the members of the Nashville Metropolitan Council features Courtney Johnston, who represents Metro Council District 26.

Tell us a little about yourself.

“I’m a real estate agent. But for the most part, I’ve really set that aside to work on council. I started off in finance, I owned a restaurant and catering company, and then I moved into real estate because my husband’s a general contractor, so it just was a complementary career. It’s worked out pretty well. We don’t have kids — we have one little Westie. His name is Raleigh. Oh, and my mom has recently moved here from Louisiana.”

Why did you decide to run for Metro Council? How long have you served?

“I was elected in September of 2019. I got involved, really, my house got broken into in 2017. So I got much more involved in the neighborhood and the community just from a safety perspective. And the more I got involved, the more I saw there were some deficiencies in the services that my neighborhood and my district were being provided. And then also, a lack of what I thought was good representation and advocacy for the district. I just decided I could do a better job and I was going to do it.”

Metro Council District 26Submitted

Metro Council District 26Submitted

What are some of your top accomplishments?

“I really enjoy constituent services, which can be anywhere from stormwater issues to ‘My trash wasn’t picked up’ to ‘Hey, there’s a huge pothole in the road.’ Those are easy fixes for me that people are really appreciative of, but I also like having contact with my neighbors. That’s what I felt like was most lacking, was just being accessible. So I really enjoy that.

“I’m working on some policy things that relate to public safety. Permitting use of license plate readers by the county, for a multitude of reasons — most importantly, public safety. Right now LPRs are banned in the right of way. They can have them in police cars. But the ordinance that I’ve written would allow it to be used for parking enforcement, so instead of going to a meter and punching in your license plate number or parking space number and swiping your credit card, it’s done automatically if you park on Metro streets that would normally be metered. It’s more an efficiency thing for parking enforcement.

“For public safety, it would allow pole-mounted fixed LPRs to fill in the gap when police can’t be there. We don’t have enough police officers to begin with, but it’s still not reasonable, even if we did, to expect that they’re all places at all times. Everywhere else it’s been used — and it’s used widely throughout the United States — crime rates are significantly lowered. Crimes are being solved in hours, days and weeks versus months, years or never. It’s decreased detectives’ overtime rate. It’s a phenomenal tool, and it’s a very simple tool: It just takes a picture of a license plate. That’s a countywide policy that I’m working really hard on and feel like will make a huge difference in our crime rates and quality of life.”

What matters do you hope to address in the future?

“I’m a district council person, so my focus is on my district, not necessarily countywide policy. One of the biggest challenges that we have in my district is speeding. Across the county, traffic calming is one of the largest requests that any of the council members have. So, what tools do we have at our disposal that we can use that will slow people down? Is it lowering the speed limits as the mayor has done on our residential streets? Is it speed humps? You know, people say, ‘Put the police out there.’ Again, we don’t have enough police officers to patrol areas for speeding.

“At the end of the day, when we have such a large volume of calls for service, that’s at the top of their priority list is when someone’s calling 911 and needs help. We have to put some things in place that are fixed that will force people to slow down, because that affects everything. People don’t feel comfortable with their kids in the front yard because cars are flying by, and if they lose control. People are hitting mailboxes. It really isn’t a very expensive endeavor either. Speed humps and things like that are relatively inexpensive. It’s just a matter of policy on where we place them, how we place them, community feedback and engagement.”

How can Nashvillians keep up with you?

“I put out a newsletter. My goal is quarterly, but that doesn’t always happen. I’m very active on social media. NextDoor has proven to be a really good way to communicate with people on a pretty regular basis. I’m active there and on Facebook. I’m just pretty accessible. People can email me, they can call me, they can reach out to me on social media — and people do through all those outlets.”

Your favorite place to eat in Nashville or to get a coffee?

“I’m going all the time during the day. So I don’t really do lunch. I drink a lot of coffee, but not necessarily at a coffee shop. I do like The Well on Old Hickory Boulevard. And as far as dinner, we love The Southern downtown, so we go there quite a bit. We also eat a lot at Cinco de Mayo in Brentwood.”

If you have family or friends visiting, what are the must-sees and must-dos?

“The city has changed so much in the past few years. You know, I think going down to experience the honky-tonks is important to do because that’s kind of what we’re famous for. And then I always tell them, if you’re going to be down there, go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. And now we’ve got the African American Music Museum. Try to catch a show at TPAC. I’ll usually steer people out to Cheekwood, Percy Warner Park. And there’s good food everywhere. You know, it’s hard to go really anywhere in Nashville and not find something you just really enjoy.”

What do you think is the best thing about Nashville?

“How diverse we are in all of the different types of things that we have to offer. We have so many cultures here, so many different types of food, different places to go and things to experience depending on your preferences. I think it’s just sort of a melting pot of entertainment and food and culture and education. We just have a little bit of everything.”

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