Those of you following this blog know that I have taken this campaign for mayor very seriously, and I have thoroughly investigated the candidates over the past year. I make no secret of the significance that I think this election will have for our city and our future. I can say that my investigation reveals what is so often true of the men and women who volunteer to lead our communities. In general, these people are bright and capable, compassionate and concerned, and incredibly generous with their willingness to put their lives on hold to work for the good of our community. The candidates for Mayor of Nashville this time around are certainly no exceptions to that general rule, and I am confident that the discussions and debates that have occurred in this campaign will benefit Nashville and its citizens no matter who is elected.
The nature of this year's campaign is also commendable. The issues have really taken center stage, and those who have clear visions for the future of this great city/county have been pressed to describe and defend those visions. These candidates have shown that politics about ideas is still possible and that personal slander and attack are not necessary to the political process. This fact gives me even greater hope for our ability as citizens of Nashville to come together to deal with the issues that will confront us in the years ahead.
I have said all along that my decision would be based on clear criteria that are important to me. I respect and appreciate anyone whose criteria differ from mine or who evaluate the candidates differently along these lines. If you are reading this post, however, you must have at least passing curiosity about what I think, and while I have left my conclusions until now and enjoyed the conversations with many of you that have helped me to clarify my own thinking, it is now time for me to share my thoughts. As always, my goal is to inspire conversation, so please feel free to respond to this post with any thoughts it may provoke.
I have investigated the Mayoral candidates according to the standards I laid out in My Conversation with Bob Clement's Campaign. To remember, my hopes for an education mayor include:
1. Creativity, innovation, and ideas (specific ones) for helping the public schools meet the unique challenges of educating for the next century rather than the past.
2. A willingness and ability to work the legislative and bureaucratic process to secure significant and well-managed monetary increases to support those good ideas.
3. A charismatic personality and the passion to inspire the people of the city to support public education.
As I have followed the campaign and thought about the issues that confront Nashville, I have begun to believe that these criteria, good for education, are also criteria that will help to identify the best candidate on other issues as well. I have broadened my assessment criteria to include the following:
- Does the candidate have a clear vision for the future?
- Does the candidate have the political and governing skill to realize that vision?
- Does the candidate have the ability to inspire the citizens to see and support that vision?
I have decided conclusively that David Briley best meets the 6 criteria and is best suited to be the next Mayor of Nashville. I reach this conclusion knowing that it differs from those reached by some others whom I respect. I reach this conclusion confident that the other candidates would do a fine job and be excellent mayors. I simply believe that David Briley will be an even better mayor.
David Briley has impressed me with his vision. He seems to understand the dynamics of Nashville's current and future growth better than the rest. He has an effectively balanced perspective that can best be termed "wise growth." While other candidates have some very good ideas for the future of Nashville, David Briley seems to have a framing vision into which those ideas fit without becoming sidetracked or part of a single issue campaign. His sharp vision gives him a strong ability to inspire and guide political debates and deal proactively with issues that our city needs to address.
Nashville's Mayors Bill Purcell and Phil Bredesen have established a legacy of wise management and good government that has literally transformed this city over the last 16 years. The current slate of candidates for Mayor are all incredibly well qualified to continue this legacy. The city will be well-managed under Briley's leadership. However, the transformation that has taken place in the last 16 years makes the demands for leadership very different now than they were while Mayors Bredesen and Purcell were working hard to get the metro engine rolling. While each of these men is likely to keep that engine rolling at a high rate, David Briley, more than the rest, has impressed me that he has a clear idea how to be sure that the growth and development in this city will produce an even greater city and not simply more of the same. With all due respect to my friends in Atlanta, Nashville is great because it is not Atlanta, and David Briley convinces me that he understand how to chart a path for the future greatness of Nashville that will make this city both better and more liveable at the same time.
The role of Nashville's Mayor s changing with the city. We have had two great mayors who have taken us from a big, small town to the doorstep of a top tier city. Development, fiscal discipline, strong management, and growth have made this city incredibly popular and strong. David Briley seems to understand, better than the rest, what is required of a big city mayor. Big city mayors can be scary because they can lose touch with their communities, yet David Briley understands that challenge and seems very comfortable leading Nashville to greatness in ways that include all citizens of Nashville and bring us all along. Nashville will become a big city in the next 15 years whether we want to or not. David Briley understands that while the present direction is good, more of the same now will limit the potential that we have to shape our own destiny rather than having that destiny shaped completely by outside forces.
So, David Briley has an important vision, his vision is inspiring, he has the ability to mobilize effective actions both inside the halls of government and among the citizens of Nashville. He has the clarity of vision to understand the tools of a strong education system. His assessment of education issues in Nashville shows clearly that he understands not only the issues and challenges but also the relationship-building and hard work that a mayor must do in working with the School District, the School Board, and the City Council to make sure that all those involved in educating our children share the right vision for their incredible responsibility.
If you agree or disagree, I hope you will let me know. If you are in the 35% of undecided citizens, I hope you will consider my perspective, but whether you agree with me or not, I sincerely hope that you will take seriously the significance of this decision for our future as a community. Politics allows us to agree to disagree and still move forward together. The candidates in this campaign have given us all the opportunity to choose a future for our city, and we owe it to them to take that decision seriously.
David Briley has the clearest vision for a future grounded in our present strengths. He knows how to lead us to becoming a big city worth living in. He has an amazing grasp of the public policy details he will need to make good decisions, and he seems very capable of listening and hearing the good ideas that others have. He has the experience in leading, governing, coordinating, and inspiring that will enable him to bring out the very best in this city.
He can win, but that is something he cannot do without us.
That's why I'm voting for David Briley.