This November, residents of Thompson's Station will get the chance to vote to fill two aldermen seats.
One of the four candidates is Lauren Gaudioso, a political newcomer who's campaigned on promoting an "inclusive environment" between town leaders and the community.
Gaudioso received her bachelor's degree from Syracuse University, a master's degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a law degree from the Nashville School of Law. She spoke with the Home Page ahead of the election about how she would help better the small, but growing community of Thompson's Station.
What motivated you to run for office?
It falls back to some of my core values of wanting to help others, be a part of a greater community — [both] for my children and everyone so they can enjoy all the beautiful aspects of Thompson's Station that made me want to live here in the first place.
Also, the current board in Thompson’s Station doesn’t have much diversity and inclusion, and I think with my background and involvement in this community I can help further community goals and support constituents on what they want to see in this town going forward.
What qualities/experience do you possess that you feel would make you a good town leader?
I moved to Thompson's Station to live in a rural country setting to have more green space for my family, not to mention the wonderful charm of a small town. As the area has developed exponentially, we risk turning this beautiful rural into a collection of subdivisions stacked side by side across the town.
There is an even greater need, now more than ever, of maintaining the balance of rural versus development. Working in the corporate world, it's my daily job to interact with a broad diverse group of fellow employees and external contractors to develop solutions to problems that take into account all sides and at the end of the day, make the best decision with the data on hand that is the right thing to do.
There is always a cost benefit analysis of how much does it cost versus the benefit to be gained, and in some cases allowing the moral compass to guide the final decision to the right thing.
Thompson's Station is a unique municipality in that it has maintained its rural character. How important is this to you, and do you plan on pushing for this to remain?
As mentioned in my previous comments, the rural character and open green space is what drew me to this area. If it becomes over-developed with subdivisions stacked side by side, it will not only strain and break the current infrastructure and transit, it will drive increases in taxes to pay for increased population requiring additional school and health facilities, and turn this charming town with open green spaces into yet another over-developed area filled with box-stores and fast food restaurants that'll turn this place into the very places most people moved here to get away from.
It's imperative that the board stay focused of the town charter to control the development so that it doesn't place an undue burden on taxpayers, but provide the growth our local economy needs to be sustainable going forward. That doesn’t mean I want to hinder development in this town, I want to just make sure we are following a good balancing test and fixing the transit and water waste issues before committing to further development.
Are there any resolutions you have in mind that you may propose if elected?
The infrastructure and transit needs addressing for sure. We need strong initiatives to widen roads in the rural areas that feed the major road arteries.
I was driving back from Nashville [one day], and once again, another accident on Critz road. Working with the people of the town, I want to understand what they are looking for.
More bike paths, sidewalks, a skate park? Maybe even adding some more additional activities at Sarah Benson Park for kids like tennis courts and basketball courts. With this Pandemic in 2020, [and] folks working remotely and more kids being homeschooled, community gatherings and outside events are even more important... not just in subdivisions, but in rural [areas] as well.
What is something you feel the town of Thompson's Station could improve on? (offering more amenities, lowering taxes, etc.)
Like I said above, having open communication between the board and the community and finding out what people here in Thompson’s station are looking for.
Is it Hiking and biking trails that connect all throughout the area that are done safely without fear of traffic congestion? Is there a way to connect all the current green spaces via a trail?
Something close to my heart [are] farmers markets. I love fresh produce and supporting local businesses, and having an event once a week where everyone in the town can come out and get some food, let the kids play and maybe even listen to live music. Another idea would maybe be a once month movie in the park. Invite some food trucks and really make it an event that everyone can come to and meet neighbors and really bring together for a stronger community as a whole.
A community garden might be another option. There are a lot of good gardening groups out there, and maybe with some support of local residents we could have a garden to teach kids how to plant and grow food and potentially provide people food here who may be struggling.
I have some great ideas and the more I talk to people in this town and introduce myself, I am continuously finding out what they personally are interested in. As the next alderman, I want to continue that open dialog and ensure the board is more inclusive among each other and taking time to listen to what people really want.
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 5. Click here to register online. Early voting lasts from Oct. 14-29, with Election Day landing on Nov. 3.