Let me begin by saying that for the first time in Metro’s 52 year history the choices are crystal clear in terms of political thought and philosophy. Even thought the Council and Mayor’s Office is supposed to be non-partisan per the Metro Charter, this year’s ballot offers candidates that are clearly aligned with political thought and ideology. It very clear that those active in local Democratic Party politics are rallying around candidates that have emerged from the ranks of the party. Megan Berry is a prime example. As the Councilman elected first to represent District 15 in 2007 I have served with Megan for 8 years and know that she has always been at the forefront of legislation that pushed the reach of Metro government into areas related to social issues and government regulation designed to tell the private sector what it can or cannot do. She has left a record of votes behind her that she was in full agreement with the decisions Dean administration and which demonstrate that she is among the most liberal of Council members who have served in the past two terms. It should also be of interest that husband, Bruce Berry, who teaches at Vanderbilt, also serves on the ACLU-Tennessee Board of Directors in the role of Treasurer.
My knowledge of David Fox began with his election to the School Board and his tenure as the chairman of the Board. This was during a time when Metro Schools were in disarray. Tensions were high due to an unpopular Superintendent, spending was out of control, performance was low and the state was considering taking over the system. David exercised the leadership necessary during that time to keep the state a bay, get control of the spending and move Board decisions in the direction that Metro Schools are now moving in. He made decisions that were unpopular with many but which were in the best interest of the system and the students inside the school house walls. That ability grew out his years of experience as a businessman and as one who understand finance principles.
If you are satisfied with the direction Metro government has moved in for the last 8 years, candidate Berry should be your choice. There is every reason to believe that she will continue many of the initiatives of the current administration which includes a focus on the downtown core while giving lip service attention to the outlying communities. Both candidates will be forced to address the issue of transportation but both will not give equal attention to debt, infrastructure (streets, sidewalks and water and sewer line update/replacement) and city services.
If you’re not satisfied with the direction of the last 8 years, David Fox should be your choice. His history and his record would indicate a more moderate role of government in terms of social issues and government control as related to the private sector. He has stated that it is important to keep the momentum of the city moving but at a slower pace and that dollars which have almost exclusively been dedicated to the city center be more evenly appropriated to the ring communities. His background in finance would lead me to believe his approach to the cities debt would be deliberate and cautious.
The fact is that if the city did not acquire any more debt than it currently has, our annual payment of principle and interest is in the neighborhood of $210 million. That remains steady thru 2019 before any decline would occur. That means regardless of whoever is elected as Mayor, their first term is going to be impacted by existing debt and the manner in which they handle adding additional obligations will impact whether, or how soon, a property tax increase will be proposed to the Council.
The choice is clear; Megan Berry is a progressive, liberal Democrat and David Fox is a fiscally conservative, moderate independent who leans to the right on many of the issues Mrs, Berry is far left on. I’ve made my choice, now you must make yours.
As to the Council at Large candidates, 5 have identified themselves to one degree or the other with candidate Berry and her positions. Those 5 are Erin Coleman, Congressman Jim Cooper’s brother, John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Sharon Hurt and Bob Mendes. Robert Duval has a record on the Council as being a conservative in his views. Jason Holleman has described himself as a practical Centrist who is socially progressive and fiscally responsible. Jim Shulman previously served on the Council and was known for his balanced approach in representing the needs and concerns of the district he represented.
Its important that each person exercise their right to vote. This run-off is in reality more important that the election that was held earlier in the month. This is not the time to sit on the sidelines and let others choose for you. This is the time to vote for the person(s) you feel best represent your thoughts and values and to do all you can to get them elected.
Feel free to pass this on to others to whom you think it might be of value.
Councilman, District 15 615.889.2907