It’s another Nashville election and another runoff: with lackluster voting numbers in the general election, every vote counts as we head into the runoff. The future of Nashville for the next four years will be decided by the small percent who actually cast their ballots. Out & About Nashville’s Editorial Board endorsements follow.
We endorse Mayor David Briley to continue as Mayor. We believe that Briley’s guidance will lead to continued growth and prosperity for Nashville in general, and for its disadvantaged communities in particular.
Mayor Briley was an active supporter of the LGBT community when doing so wasn’t politically safe, even in Nashville. He sat on the board of Nashville CARES during the AIDS crisis. He supported non-discrimination when it was killed, and has always been there to vote to defend the rights of members of our community.
John Cooper has not been proactive on behalf of LGBT rights, and he’s not taken political risks to support the community. Further, his conservatism, we believe, will hamper growth and job creation, and we do not believe that Cooper will make the difficult decisions to go out on limbs for minority communities.
During the last election we recalled the following, but it’s worth remembering. When Mayor Briley sat down with our correspondent Julie Chase, a transwoman, he provided unambiguous support: “I will do whatever it takes to protect LGBTQ+ rights. I have worked with the city's lobbyists and we have already had an opportunity to weigh in on that so-called bathroom bill that was up again this year to do what was right for our city and its residents on that… I’m opposed to anything like that from a moral perspective and it's also very bad for business on top of that.”
During his term, Briley delivered on many of the pro-LGBT initiatives Megan Barry's administration began to roll out, doubling down on some of them, and not under pressure. He:
•invested $50k ($25k x 2) in Metro Budget in support of work of LGBT Chamber
•proclaimed opposition to the various state legislation negatively impacting LGBT community
•has 20+% of mayoral staff from the LGBT community
•attended nearly every major Pride and LGBT-focused event in memory
•dedicated an LGBT Liaison as a staff position in his office
•supported and encouraged a Metro PD & Fire Department LGBT Liasion
•supported historical markers for Nashville’s first LGBT bars
•signed an executive order making Nashville the first Southern city to recognize LGBT owned businesses in procurement
•proclaimed No Name Calling week in Metro to help publicize anti-bullying efforts
•officiated in LGBT marriages
•supported marriage rights and domestic partner benefits for LGBT couples before broad public was garnered
This list is not exhaustive. Far from it. John Cooper may not have opposed most of these, but he hasn’t been a vocal supporter of any such initiatives.
Ultimately, though, Cooper would not be a disaster as mayor for the cis white LGBT community, but the depth of the appeal he holds for Carol Swain’s base is concerning for any but those in the most privileged classes of our community. He’s certainly not anti-LGBT, and has LGBT staffers and supporters. But he’s not just pandering to the right—Cooper’s positions legitimately appeal to them, because many of them are right of center.
Briley, we believe, is the more progressive candidate, and thus offers the most hope for continued growth and development in areas that count—not only in terms of new buildings but better values.
Endorsements for Metro Council
In the At Large race, we endorse:
Fabian Bedne, who has always stood for the rights of the oppressed of this city, even as he served the interests of the constituents who elected him. Bedne’s support of the LGBT, minority, and immigrant communities is unquestionable, and Metro Council needs his strong voice of moral leadership.
Burkley Allen, who has always supported LGBT rights on the Council.
And newcomer Zulfat Suara, who has proven herself to be a compelling advocate for the disenfranchised and dispossessed.
For Council District 7, we strongly endorse community member and O&AN contributing author, Emily Benedict.
For Council District 13, we strongly endorse Russ Bradford, who in the general election faced what the Victory Fund called one of the most homophobic campaigns in the country.
For Council District 23, we strongly endorse Mina Johnson, who has supported, and sat on the board of, the Tennessee Equality Project and who served her district so well in her first term.
Early voting will run through Sept. 7 ahead of the Sept. 12 runoff election.