By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN — At-Large Metro Councilmember John Cooper’s campaign for mayor reemerged Monday. In February, Cooper decided against running.
He changed his mind because “So many people told me we need a choice in this election and we can’t wait four years,” he said, adding he’s dismayed with Mayor David Briley.
“I felt like I gave the administration as long as you could to show that we are going to get on the right track,” Cooper said. “There are too many issues.”
Cherry Blossom tree removal to accommodate NFL draft events “may be our symbol,” he continued, “but it’s about: land sales; the Church Street Park swap; deals for developers; being told to wait five years for a transportation plan; and privatization of neighborhood parking.”
Aug. 1 is Election Day.
“There’s an insufficient affordable housing plan that … probably won’t make much difference,” said Cooper, calling it “kind of PR-driven.”
A series of reports here on housing “prompted the response that you see, so far,” Cooper said, adding, “It’s more than housing. It’s teacher pay. It’s retention” of employees.
“Unless we get the financial stewardship of the city right, there’s not going to be money for projects that we need,” he said.
“I’ve got three points to my campaign. Neighborhoods first.”
Financial stewardship is another. “We’re in a city that is running big deficits and has maxed out our credit cards.
“And we need to restore trust,” he said. “Until we have trust, we’re not going to be able to have effective, long-term plans for the solutions we need.
“This amazing city needs a government that can keep up.”
Keeping up with the candidates is challenging. They are Briley, retired professor Carol Swain; and District 55 state Rep. John Ray Clemmons. Others with petitions are Harold “Hollywood Howie” Garoutte, Julia Clark Johnson, Jon Sewell, Nolan Starnes and Francis VonWaldreon.
“This is Nashville for all Nashvillians,” Cooper said of his campaign. “The trust gap that exists can be addressed by this campaign, this election, and citizen involvement.”
Asked about minority contractors, Cooper said financial stewardship includes addressing renewal of contracts which bypasses competitive bidding.
“There are questions about Metro contracts and procurement,” he said. “And we’ve had a persistent problem It includes how we deal with surplus property as well.”
As for making the municipal workforce look like the city it’s serving, Cooper said, “Having an appropriately diverse employment by government is, of course, a necessity.
“And we need to pay people adequately … and retain our employees to do the job that we need for them to do. With all this growth – often – they’re having a real pay cut, and yet their expenses are a lot greater. It’s the same problem for them that a lot of the city is experiencing. Gentrification is making life harder rather than easier.”
The deadline to register to vote for mayor is July 1. Early voting starts July 12.