A low-information voter may see the two run-off candidates for mayor and falsely think they are the same — older, white men with family names that have history and meaning in local politics. They would be wrong.
David Briley has a long career of fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. As a young lawyer, he routinely defended indigent clients at no cost, represented groups like Occupy Nashville, and fought for clients like Cyntoia Brown to receive justice. He spent 10 years on the Housing Fund board and 8 years as a Metro Councilman and eventual Vice Mayor.
Before returning to Nashville 22 years ago, David Briley worked for a group in San Francisco called Neighbor to Neighbor, supporting the rights of Central Americans. He worked in Ecuador where he became fluent in Spanish. His entire career has been about service to others.
David Briley's life choices have always had the same focus, even when it comes to choosing who he would marry. David’s wife, Jodie, is a criminal defense attorney who works often at no cost to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Both David and Jodie have always spoken out and taken action against injustice, particularly as it relates to minorities, immigrants and women.
As your mayor, David Briley has:
Hired a senior team that is half female, a third African American and 20% LGBT.
Provided the largest pay raise to teachers in more than a decade – and did it without raising taxes.
Launched Under One Roof 2029 to add more than 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2029.
Launched the Equal Business Opportunity Ordinance, helping minority- and women-owned businesses have a fair shot at Metro contracts.
Passed an executive order making Nashville the first city in the South to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses.
Appointed the first LGBTQ Community Liaison within the Mayor’s Office and appointed the first full-time LGBTQ+ liaisons in both the police and fire departments.
Developed the Safe Place Program at MNPD for businesses to act as places of refuge for those experiencing or witnessing hate crimes.
Spearheaded the first government-supported area-wide collaboration on HIV and AIDS issues through his Ending the Epidemic Task Force and report.
Created Nashville GRAD, which helps MNPS graduates attend and complete community college at no cost to them.
Fully funded General Hospital and stopped prior plans to turn it into a clinic.
John Cooper has attracted the support of active conservatives like Joe Scarlett, vice chair of the Beacon Center of Tennessee board, and Lee Barfield, a board member on pro-voucher group American Federation. He also has the support of Middle Tennesseans For Donald Trump. He has no track record for supporting progressive causes or even of volunteering his time in Nashville outside of work to do so.
Mayor Briley guided the city through a terrible budget sponsored by then Budget and Finance Chair John Cooper in 2017. He righted the ship, found ways to hold down costs and increase revenues, and helped residents avoid a rush property tax increase without a public dialogue.
Briley’s FY20 operating budget gave cost-of-living and step raises to all Metro employees and teachers a 4.5% pay raise – the biggest they’ve seen in a decade; fully funded Nashville General Hospital; funded Nashville GRAD; raised starting police pay by 6.4%; and more.
Mayor Briley also passed a $351 capital spending plan for neighborhoods to improve sidewalks, parks, libraries, bike paths, greenways and schools throughout the county. And to help alleviate our city’s financial obligations, he negotiated a new lease for the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena that keeps the Predators in Nashville for another 30 years and eliminates the tax subsidy on the arena.
As Metro Council budget chair, John Cooper:
Attempted to take significant funds from the reserves.
Made promises to provide raise for Metro employees over the next three years (it’s impossible to hold Council to this promise) — and his bad budget resulted in a default the very next year.
In 2017, he sponsored legislation that set the tax rate lower than it has ever been in the history of Metro Government. This meant that many families in mid-to-high income, established neighborhoods with slower growth in property values saw their taxes go down. At the same time, emerging neighborhoods with skyrocketing home values saw their taxes go up, placing more burden on low-income homeowners. This result was deeply unfair because poorer families saw their taxes go up with no increase in Metro services or pay.
In the past two years, John Cooper has failed to put forward a budget alternative, instead choosing only to criticize. The voters should hear his plan. He should be asked to say EXACTLY what he would have done in this FY20 budget. We should be able to see what he would cut to make ends meet.
Mayor Briley has worked with the people of Nashville and the Metro Council to create and champion projects like:
Under One Roof 2029, Nashville’s largest-ever investment in affordable housing, which is hailed as one of the most visionary and progressive programs of its kind nationwide.
Nashville GRAD, which paves the way for local students to complete community college by removing financial barriers and adding vital mentoring services and more.
A complete renovation of the Nashville Fairgrounds and construction of the new MLS Stadium with a Community Benefits Agreement that ensures solid wages for workers and affordable housing options onsite.
John Cooper’s default setting is “No.” If elected, he is likely to impede or do away with these projects and more.
In the past two years, John Cooper has voted against $600 million in capital spending projects that are focused largely in neighborhoods. He voted against $60 million for sidewalks, $58 million for parks, $16 million for libraries and $3.5 million for bikeways, among many other investments.
In 2016, John Cooper was the ONLY Council Member to oppose the Inclusionary Zoning bill for affordable housing.
Mayor Briley has been working with MNPS and its new leaders to craft a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and District that will enact a comprehensive pay plan for teachers, provide vital funding to priority schools and the teachers and students in them, and chart a path for bringing more funding to the areas that need it most like early literacy and social-emotional learning.
He has been in 20+ Metro Schools this year, talking to teachers and students, and he regularly meets with Dr. Adrienne Battle, interim director, to talk about ways to move forward quickly with plans that will make a difference. He also convened an Education Kitchen Cabinet with advocates, educators, parents and administrators to outline specific plans for supporting our 21 Priority Schools. This plan is ready for Board review and has already been approved/reviewed by MNPS.
John Cooper has not demonstrated any overt interest in the future of our public schools, teachers, and students, with the exception of making empty promises to give more revenue to schools from the tourism development zone, something not allowed by law (as covered clearly in the August 9, 2019, The Tennessean).