By Bill Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN — The importance of continuity, clear responsiveness and a decided desire to help all of Nashville are the reasons that I have chosen to support Mayor David Briley in the upcoming election.
It has been a difficult decision, and I consider all of the candidates for the office to be individuals who would conduct themselves with integrity and do a fine job in the office. I consider both Council Member John Cooper and State Rep. John Ray Clemmons to be exceedingly fine examples of moderate Democratic leaders who have the best interests of their constituents at heart and who smartly bring their non-political experience to bear when informing their decisions. However, as I said when I first endorsed Mayor Briley in March 2018, I feel that Nashville will be best served by having Mayor Briley focused on what’s best for Nashville. Following the disruption that we all experienced with the scandal and subsequent resignation of Mayor Barry last year, it has become clearer since then that Nashville’s progress was significantly impaired from that series of events. The continuity that Mayor Briley’s election brought to Nashville has played an important role in stabilizing our public image and our civic development. I think Nashville still needs that continuity in order to further stabilize our civic needs.
Mayor Briley has also weathered significant criticism, none the least of which has been from myself and other politically engaged private citizens. A number of core issues have concerned me during Briley’s administration to date, but I have been cautiously optimistic to see that Mayor Briley has shown an honest willingness to listen to the needs of Nashvillians. Our city’s budget constraints, our overall debt burden and the financial compensation of Metro employees are arguably three of the most concerning issues I’ve discussed during Mayor Briley’s administration. To his credit, Mayor Briley has worked diligently to address each one. He has promised caution with our civic spending and an increase in payments to reduce our debt burden. He has also honestly admitted that the failure to provide promised pay raises to Metro employees last year was one of his biggest regrets to date and has worked to provide those pay raises in the upcoming budget, despite another year of belt-tightening. Simply put, Mayor Briley has listened to concerns and has been receptive. We can’t expect perfection from any of our elected officials, but we can and should expect them to hear our concerns, to admit their shortcomings and to work toward our common goals of success and stability. We have seen that in Mayor Briley, and for that I feel he deserves to continue the efforts he has begun.
Mayor Briley has also exhibited a clear determination to serve all of Nashville. This has been one of my biggest worries as I watch Nashville growing and transforming before our eyes. Unchecked growth is worrisome in every regard, and it is the responsibility of the Mayor and our Metro Council to ensure that we have every support in place to balance that growth and to direct it strategically. Mayor Briley is actively working to ensure that we do not grow out-of-control and that we remain the diverse and thriving city that we have always been. While I wouldn’t say that the program is without flaws, Briley’s program Under One Roof 2029 to increase affordable housing is clear proof that he is doing his best to balance the housing needs of all Nashvillians. If we remember, two of Mayor Briley’s first tasks in office were to declare support for the historic preservation of Fort Negley in its entirety and to affirm his full support of keeping Nashville General Hospital operational and fully funded. From the get-go, Mayor Briley has shown that he is committed to doing the right thing.
It has been refreshing to see a complete absence of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering or public posturing from the Mayor’s Office. When he took office, Mayor Briley pledged to be transparent with his decisions and his efforts to direct Nashville’s growth. He has kept that promise. While I still have concerns over a number of civic issues plaguing our city, including our budget constraints, our debt burden and our overall growth, I feel that we can be assured that Mayor Briley will listen to our concerns and incorporate them into decisions that will best benefit the city of Nashville and its residents.
It’s been a tough decision, and I admire the individuals who are willing to offer themselves for the position of Mayor. It is clearly a tough job, and Mayor Briley doesn’t have an easy road ahead of him should he succeed in his efforts to remain Nashville’s mayor. But I think Nashville will be best served by the balance that comes with keeping the same individual in office, and he has shown himself to be honest, receptive and have our best interests at heart. We can’t ask anything more from an elected official. I wish Mayor Briley and all of the candidates the best in their efforts, and I thank them all for their service to Nashville. It is now our collective responsibility to decide who is best for Nashville and to make our voices heard.