By CHRISTIAN MARNON
Incumbent Ward 2 Alderman Jonathan Duda has served on both the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Alderman and Planning Commission since 2005. He faces challenger Jeff Graves in the upcoming municipal election.
Duda has 12 years of experience with the BOMA. He said that during this time, he has a proven record of being an advocate for citizens, holding the development community accountable, and implementing smart-managed growth policies for Spring Hill.
“I’ve been effective in cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that exists with our partners,” he said. “And that has brought forward the widening of Duplex Road and the widening of the railroad crossing at Beechcroft. These projects don’t simply occur because TDOT feels that Spring Hill is special. It requires us to participate effectively and I have that experience. I think it’s critical at this stage in our community that we complete these road projects. It requires someone like myself, a team player, that’s going to be able to do that.”
Raised in Western Pennsylvania, Duda moved to Williamson County in 1994. In 2003, he relocated to Spring Hill with his wife where they decided to raise a family. Duda is acting Vice President of National Financial Partners, an insurance partner that provides financial planning to individuals and corporate clients across the country.
Spring Hill Home Page spoke with Duda about his vision for Spring Hill moving forward.
Spring Hill continues to increase rapidly in population. Going forward, what is needed to properly balance infrastructure needs with development and population growth?
“My highest priority is completing major road projects. When we have a request before us, we look at it with a long-range lens of how it’s going to fit as we are today and also as our community continues to grow. It’s important for developers, as they come, to provide for the impact that’s attributable to them. So, my philosophy is to never give up the long term needs of the city, but to also make progress in the short term where we can. It’s a balancing act and that’s the best way to describe my philosophy.”
Beyond traffic and development what will you do to improve the quality of life in Spring Hill?
“My highest priority is to bring the major road construction projects identified in our Major Thoroughfare Plan to the stage where funding can be secured and constructed. Additional goals I have would be to construct and fully staff a new fire station in the vicinity of Buckner Lane and Duplex Road, expanding the library, building a permanent police station, expanding City Hall and constructing youth and adult sport fields for baseball, softball, and soccer.”
Spring Hill often gets designated as a “bedroom community,” a place where residents may live and sleep, but who ultimately commute to other cities where they also purchase commodities. What do you think is needed for Spring Hill to transcend that designation?
“[We must] provide balance for the community by having a place where our residents can work and having a place where our residents can live. [In our] community right now, we don’t have office space and we don’t have places where our professionals work. Just as we’re getting attention on employment to support the GM facility, we haven’t yet seen the type of job growth we need to be a self-sustaining community and to keep people locally so they’re not commuting in the morning and evening. When you say ‘bedroom community,’ those are Spring Hill’s characteristics without a doubt, but I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. It’s not going to change overnight.
For my four years, I’m looking to prepare our city for when we are sustainable. That includes improving the public safety services and the staffing needed for a new fire station, a new police headquarters that is permanent, and a city hall expansion that serves the needs of the citizens adequately. Those [improvements] need to occur during the next horizon. Spring Hill Rising, our comprehensive plan, has a vision for 2040 [of a] sustainable community where we work, live and play with all those needs [satisfied]. But that’s a 25-year vision, so we have work to do today to prepare for that. We need to be a community that is prepared and not constantly reacting for growth.
Tell me about your professional background and how it translates to your public service as an Alderman.
“Being a financial planner has formed how I view my role for the city. We develop a plan for individuals and executives to be able to retire and have the life they wish to have. It’s all about preparing and developing a plan—but not only that, it’s about implementing. If you ask any of my colleagues on the board, they will tell you that that no matter how difficult a situation is, I’m the type that’s going to roll up my sleeves, dig down into the details and work to find a solution. But not only that—I’m going to work to bring that solution and implement it.
My work experience has informed how I make decisions for the community along that line—preparing, planning, and most importantly, implementing. It’s a constant cycle. You’re not just developing a plan and checking off boxes as you complete it. You’re constantly re-evaluating and fine-tuning. These elections are great because it helps us fine tune and proceed. If the good people of Spring Hill honor me with their vote, that’s what this process is to me.”