We have spent many words on this question during the last year, and today we have arrived at the conclusion. Ultimately, anyone who really cares why I voted for Mr. Dean can simply follow my thinking all the way back.
Bob Clement was the first candidate that I considered seriously, and given the people working for him, I felt like I might like him. Unfortunately, the more I got to know him, the less and less I found his promises believable. I have to admit that the anti-tax gimmick (my word here, not Mr. Dean's) was a big part of the final straw.
When I was fortunate enough to be asked by the Nashville Association of Black Journalists to ask questions on a panel at a late forum between the two men, I saw two men headed in different directions. I appreciated the demands that had been placed on them during this lengthy campaign, and I could see the strain in their faces. Yet, I could see more clearly the strain in Mr. Clement's face. I saw and heard in Mr. Dean's answers a man who has spent the past year really studying issues he did not seem to master early in the race and doing pretty well in learning them. Particularly, the pledge to make education his number one priority was shallow last spring, but last Thursday, I saw a steely resolve that showed me the face of a man making that promise and much more fully understanding what it will take to keep it than he did at first.
In Clement, I saw a man searching for the right "formula" to win an election. I saw him moving further and further from a strategy for governing. I saw him increasingly trying to say what was expected in order to pit groups in the city against one another to score a victory. Nashville no longer sounded "good" when he criticized the officials, the progress, and the direction of the city. Since he took the city from good to not good just during the campaign, I really came to doubt that he could successfully lead us from the "good to great" he so often promised.
In the end, it wasn't too hard to select a sincere man with strong commitments, a clear sense of priorities, and a willingness and ability to learn. Will I always agree with Mayor Dean, probably not, but I feel like he will listen when I don't, and in listening to us, he will make good decisions that we will at least understand.
That is the kind of mayor I want, so I voted for Karl Dean.