Improving Spring Hill's infrastructure is something every single alderman candidate has addressed as a top priority.
While alderman candidate Trent Linville said he certainly shares in those concerns, the pace of road improvements on the northern side of the city when compared to the southern side has raised fears that Spring Hill may end up repeating another 10-year cycle of development outpacing roads.
If elected, Linville said that keeping southern Spring Hill's infrastructure on pace with development would be a top priority of his, along with staffing the city with qualified and experienced personnel in the wake of several recent departures of city staff.
Born in Franklin, Linville is running to represent Spring Hill's fourth ward - which encompasses the entire Maury County side of the city - unopposed. While he didn't move to Spring Hill until around 2016, Linville has been a prominent member of the community for years, being among those that helped launched The Bridge Church near Saturn Parkway in the early 2000s.
A graduate of Battle Ground Academy, Linville earned a degree in political science from the University of Tennessee, later graduating from law school at Belmont University.
Getting married to his wife Jessie in 2012, Linville helped with administrative duties at The Bridge Church and currently operates his own law practice in Spring Hill.
"We're almost following the same pattern"
"One of the reasons I really thought about running was because we have this lesson that you hear all the time in Spring Hill: we have so much growth but the infrastructure didn't catch up," Linville said. "I think the current board right now has done a really great job setting up infrastructure to be built in the next few years, but if you look at it, most of it's on the Williamson County side."
As a resident of the city's southern portion, Linville said he was all too familiar with the plagues of traveling north up Port Royal Road during rush hour, or tailing a slow driver along Kedron Road's single lane. It was that experience, Linville said, that motivated him in part to run for office.
"Part of the reason that pushed me to run is my fear is that we're almost following the same pattern: we're approving all the growth on the south side, but then if you try to go up north on Port Royal [Road] during rush hour, there's gridlock like crazy," Linville said.
"It's almost like we're following the play we did 10 years ago, so one of my focuses is I want to be sure that we're developing infrastructure in the south side of the city so that the city as a whole can flourish."
Aside from his desire to see the southern portion of the city more easily traversable, Linville said that he felt both his administrative and legal experience - plus his wife's support - made the decision to run a clear one.
"I think that with my legal background, my business background from The Bridge, [plus] my skills that can positively impact the city [make this] an opportunity to for me to be able to give back and serve the city that served me so well," Linville said.
"Me and my wife had gone back and forth for a few months... we made the final decision in December, [and] that was just us sitting down, talking about it, praying about it."
"Void in leadership"
Aside from the city's infrastructure inadequacies, Linville also pointed to the city's number of important vacant positions.
As recently as January of this year, the city administrator, planner and engineer have all left their positions. Linville said filling these important roles would be a major priority of his, and that the task will be placed on the new Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) on day one.
"Infrastructure is super important, but one of the biggest things that I think people don't understand the day-to-day impact of is the void that we have in city leadership right now," Linville said.
"We have to find the right person, find the best possible person who in my opinion, is someone who has been at a city like [Spring Hill]. There are also some political realities that caused some of the positions to be vacant; the board needs to be aligned and be focused so that we're moving in a direction that attract the best people."
Linville continued, arguing that building consensus among the BOMA was just as important in hiring the right city staff.
"I think we have the obligation to build a consensus, build a vision for what we think Spring Hill should be so that we're able to keep consistency in leadership," Linville said. "I don't think it serves the city well for us to see a lot of 5-4 votes on every decision coming down the pike. There are issues that are black and white for whether something's good for the city."
As far as how to build cohesiveness among the BOMA, Linville harkened back to his days in law school.
"You learn in law school that you can vehemently argue against opposing counsel in a courtroom and then go have a beer with them afterwards," Linville said.
"We can disagree, but I think that the biggest tool that any person in the city has [to better build consensus] is developing relationships with one another. The more that you have a relationship developed with people, even if you disagree, you're more likely to have a positive working relationship."
Economic development, amenities
When asked about how he would use his leadership position to better entice businesses to Spring Hill, Linville pointed back to the importance of hiring qualified city staff.
"Businesses are attracted to cities like Spring Hill, but I don't think Spring Hill is potentially getting the best businesses that it could because we don't have someone going out and getting those businesses - think of Chick-fil-a," Linville said.
"We have so many great business minds in the [Spring Hill] Chamber of Commerce [too] that I also think it's important that the city do a better job partnering with the chamber."
In terms of amenities such as parks and trails, Linville admitted that such things fell behind infrastructure on his priority list, but that with proper economic development through the recruitment of qualified city staff, a larger amount of non-property tax revenue could help increase the city's amount of green space.
"I think parks are important, [but] part of the issue that Spring Hill's facing is we have a lot things that we want to prioritize but only a limited amount of resources, so there are tools that we can use in order to prioritize green space outside of throwing money at parks," Linville said.
"In the Unified Development Code, there's certain amounts of green space requirements for developments - I think we could do a better job at tightening that to make sure that those are usable green spaces, both on the Planning Commission level and the BOMA level."
"Hit the ground running"
"Another one of my focuses is to be ready day one," Linville said.
"I think I have the obligation to the city to do that even though I'm running unopposed, and I think every candidate that is running right now has the same obligation. Whether that's meeting with city staff to get the ins and outs of the issues we're facing, or figuring out what is coming down the pike the next few months, we need to hit the ground running."
Being prepared on day one, Linville said, was something he owed city residents. While not every nuance of running a city can be picked up through research alone, Linville urged voters to consider this factor when choosing who to vote for.
"Voters need to know that the new board that's coming up has a lot of things to tackle day one," Linville said.
"There will be a lot of people asking for your votes over the next few months; to the voter who's thinking about who to vote for, ask the person who is before you 'how will you be ready day one.' I think in order for us to have a successful board, we need to have people who aren't learning on the fly as much as possible."
Linville is just one of nine candidates running for office in the upcoming city election, and will be running unopposed to represent Spring Hill Ward 4.
Early voting will be from March 19 to April 3, with Election Day landing on Thursday, April 8. The last day to register to vote is March 9 — click here to register to vote online.