By Cillea Houghton
NASHVILLE, TN — Roughly 50 people gathered on the steps of the Metro Courthouse to demand Mayor Megan Barry resign in the wake of her admittance to an affair with former head of security detail Robert Forrest Jr.
Led by Rick Williams, the rally included speeches by local political activists Rev. Enoch Fuzz and former Vanderbilt University law professor Carol Swain. Swain said that while the people of Nashville can forgive her, Barry’s actions are in violation of ethics. “Integrity and trust are essential for effective government. Right now, Mayor Barry has proven that she cannot be trusted in small things, how can we trust her on big things like the effective use of our taxpayer dollars,” she said. “Although she has offered to write a check for any inappropriate expenses, that does not make unethical, immoral behavior go away.”
Resident Lisa Bradshaw plans to file an ethics violation against the mayor, claiming her actions have caused a divide among citizens and no longer maker her an effective leader. “As a Nashville-born resident, I was proud to say that we elected our first female mayor. But I am saddened by her actions that have now divided the Metro Nashville community,” Bradshaw said.
Many residents expressed distrust in the mayor and concern over the question if tax dollars were misspent in the midst of the affair. Barry has said tax dollars were not used unethically while the relationship was going on. “How can we possibly trust her to be our leader and a good representative of Nashville going into the future,” Matthew Perry said. “We need somebody that we can really get behind 100 percent.”
Eric Parks believes the mayor’s actions take attention away from the positive progress of the city, such as the transit plan and the potential of Amazon building its second headquarters here. “One of the big things that stood out in her speech is she said she made a mistake and for me, a mistake happens once, it doesn’t happen over the period of two years. It’s very hurtful to me as a native Nashvillian to have to go through this,” he said.
The protest drew lone supporter Demetrius Rowe, who respects the mayor for publicly admitting her wrongdoing and believes the city should forgive her and move forward. “I don’t think she should resign. As a leader, you fall, you get back up. People have voted for her to take a stand. You don’t just fall and give up because you make mistakes, you got to get back up and you got to keep running regardless of whatever is consequential you face, you have to push forward,” he said. “That’s what takes a leader.”
If the mayor does not resign, the opposition group plans to man the polls on May 1 to get signatures for a recall effort.