NASHVILLE, TN — After deliberation and consultation with family members and key advisors, Bill Freeman has chosen not to join the campaign to complete the term in office left vacant by Megan Barry’s recent resignation.
“I think Nashville will be best served by having Mayor Briley focused on what’s best for our city for the remainder of this term. As a result, I’ve chosen to refrain from entering the race.”
While Freeman did not discourage others from entering the race, he considers his decision to be a personal one. “It is certainly within the capability of Nashvillians to determine what’s best for Nashville. To discourage anyone from running for office is downright un-American,” stated Freeman. “I simply feel that Mayor Briley is the right person for Nashville right now. I’ve weighed the options, and I feel that my continued role with Freeman Webb will serve Nashville well, with our strong initiatives to meet Nashville’s needs for affordable housing.”
Considering objectivity as a key factor for any elected official, Freeman cautioned against allowing undue influence on key decisions by outside interests. “While Mayor Briley must be inundated right now with appeals from all sides, it is vital that our mayor remain balanced in his approach,” commented Freeman. “Seeing the undue influence that our Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has attempted to create is worrisome. Our chamber actively discouraged anyone to run in this election practically the minute we heard of Barry’s resignation, and that is concerning. The influence of any outside entity, be they a quasi-governmental agency or “big business” interests or a combination of both factors, is concerning. Our chamber does not have the best track record in representing the will of all Nashville, simply put. You only have to look across the county line to see how many corporations have chosen to put roots down in other counties to see that, or to see their failures in redeveloping the fairgrounds or the failed AMP project or their heavy-handed approach to influencing our public schools. I hope that Mayor Briley sees that what’s best for Nashville may not line up with what the chamber thinks is best for Nashville.”
Citing General Hospital and Fort Negley, Freeman complimented Mayor Briley’s first few key decisions in office. “Ensuring that our city has a stable, well-funded and reliable safety-net hospital is a smart move,” commented Freeman. “but more importantly, working to fund General Hospital and ensuring that it remain open for inpatient services is the right move. Promising to return Parkland to honor past generations is also the right move. Fort Negley deserves to have Greer Stadium returned to its original footprint to respect the lives sacrificed for our country.”
Discussing issues that have not yet been publicly discussed by Mayor Briley, Freeman points to other city issues worthy of enhancements and preservation. “I would hope that Mayor Briley will support and fully fund the efforts to enhance and preserve the Fairgrounds as Barry had promised,” commented Freeman. “While we haven’t heard much from the Mayor’s Office about the Fairgrounds yet, it’s still early. I hope that Mayor Briley remembers the many people of Nashville who voted to keep the Fairgrounds. Many generations of Nashvillians, including the Briley family through the years, have enjoyed spending time and creating family memories at this location.”
One key area in which Freeman and Mayor Briley may not see eye-to-eye would be the issue of our traffic needs. “It is absolutely imperative that we address our pressing need for solutions to our traffic problems. However, I’m not convinced that the plan we have in front of us is the right plan,” stated Freeman. “We need to have a plan that gives more attention to a truly regional approach to mass transit and a plan that addresses current traffic congestion more than this plan does. With the attached price tag, we can’t afford to get this wrong. Even though Mayor Briley and I agree that we need a plan, we disagree on what that plan should be. It seems to me that this plan may cause more problems that it appears to solve.”
Refocusing city priorities also is important to the success of any city. Freeman cautioned against allowing urgent issues to fall by the wayside without a crisis to propel a solution. “Our city continues to struggle with the issues that affect every growing city,” commented Freeman. “Violence, drugs, homelessness, struggling schools – these are all issues that Nashville must meet head-on in order for our city to continue to thrive. It’s urgent that these issues are addressed—and addressed promptly.”
Looking toward the future, Freeman does not rule out his involvement in future campaigns. “While I have chosen not to run in this interim campaign, I have not yet decided what my involvement might be in the mayoral campaign for the upcoming full term in office. I think we will all need to readdress what we think will be best for Nashville’s future at that point. I know that I will still have the same affection, drive and passion for this city come next August. When the time comes, I will decide whether I will be a candidate to offer a vision of success and leadership to serve Nashville moving forward.”
Bill Freeman is the chairman of Freeman Webb Inc., a real estate investment, management and brokerage company based in Nashville, which he co–founded in 1979. He is a Democratic Party fundraiser, the former treasurer of the Tennessee Democratic Party, a member of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, a member of the Board of Trustees for Tennessee State University and was appointed to serve on the advisory board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.