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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nashville's next mayor

I'm encouraged that the field of candidates to become Nashville's next mayor is growing. A few months ago, there were three declared candidates, none of whom appealed to me. Now there are five community leaders who have announced for the race that have a reasonable opportunity to win next August.

This is progress, in my opinion. Nashville has been blessed with two strong mayors over four terms, and I think that these two pairs of shoes will be hard--and essential--to fill well. Beginning with Phil Bredesen's election in 1991 and continuing to Bill Purcell's current tenure, Nashville has had visionary leadership that has been a major factor in its substantial growth and development and its maturation into a more progressive city. It is important to continue that pattern, if you ask me.

It really wasn't all that long ago that Nashville had a major deficit in leadership in the office of mayor. It is hard to imagine Bill Boner running the city I call home today, and thank goodness for that. (If you are interested in more information, follow the Bill Boner link and be sure to read the three paragraphs beginning with "In 1987, Nashville Mayor ...")

I have not made up my mind regarding my vote for mayor next summer, and I sincerely want to have an open mind in considering all five major candidates. I'm going to share my impressions thus far, candid and limited as they currently are, and see how they evolve as I continue to learn more in the months ahead. Here goes:

  • David Briley, Metro Council member and originally a vice-mayor candidate: a progressive thinker with good intentions, but is he ready?
  • Bob Clement, former U.S. congressman: a career politician and an underwhelming candidate, in my opinion
  • Karl Dean, who announced yesterday: innovative, compassionate and progressive thinker who needs to increase name recognition in a hurry. (Hint: Karl, you need a Web site!)
  • Buck Dozier, Metro Fire Chief: I think Buck is an honest and respectable person. I am concerned that he is too conservative for a Nashville that is much more diverse than it was 20 years ago. I do like his education proposal.
  • Howard Gentry, current Metro Vice-Mayor: Howard is a well-respected leader and, by all impressions, a good man. I personally think he is not the best candidate because he is too mild and may not be able to build consensus across the city. I would be happy to see Nashville with a mayor who is a minority, but I don't think Howard is that mayor.
Now is a great time to visit the Web sites above and learn more about each candidate. There will be plenty of news and debate to color your impressions later, but take the time to form your own before the volume rises next spring.

Update: Kenneth Eaton, a longtime Nashville businessman, will announce his candidacy for mayor next month. His Web site has more information. Dave Pelton, a self-described energy and environmental policy expert, is also running.

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