Friday, February 8, 2019

John Cooper will not run for mayor.

John Cooper
by Rod Williams - John Cooper has announced he will not run for mayor and has announced also that he will  not seek reelection to the Metro Council.  This is disappointing.  It was widely anticipated that Cooper would run for mayor. Cooper has been one of the best members of the Council when it comes to fiscal matters.  He has been critical of the mayor's budget priorities, critical of tax giveaways to developers, he opposed the soccer stadium deal, and last year when the Council voted against raising taxes in a close 20-19 vote, Cooper voted against the tax increase.  As one who watches the Council closely, I have been very impressed by John Cooper.  John Cooper is a Democrat and the younger brother of Senator Jim Cooper, but he may be the last sane Democrat in America.  He is by far my favorite  Nashville Democrat. I would have supported him had he ran for mayor.

In a Tennessean article today, Cooper is quoted as saying he plans to remain involved in political affairs.  He says rather than a change in the mayor's office that what's most needed is to educate people about Metro's finances and he says he will be doing that. I agree that, that is important, but how Cooper plans to have any impact once out of office, I don't know.  Even if he gets a gig as a commentator on a TV program, his influence will be minimal. I respect his decision but am disappointed.

With Cooper out of the picture, that leaves incumbent Mayor David Briley and State Representative John Ray Clemmons as the announced candidates.  Both would be bad.  Another likely candidate is Bill Freeman.  In the 2015 election which resulted in a runoff between David Fox and Megan Barry, Freeman came in, in third place. It is widely expected that Freeman will run.  Freeman is a major fundraiser for the national Democrat Party and liberal candidates and another liberal. However, he may be more fiscally responsible than the other two candidates. I don't know that but have that impression.  If the choices boil down to Briley, Clemmons and Freeman, I will most likely hold my nose and vote for Freeman. I perceive that he may be the least bad of three bad choices but I hope someone else gets in the race, but at this point I don't know of any potential candidate that would not be flaming liberal.

My perception is that Nashville is even more liberal now than in 2015 when we elected Megan Barry.  As the demographics shift to younger people and more Northeastern and California immigrants, the chance for a conservative candidate to be elected mayor dims.  Many of these newer immigrants to our city may not care a lot about the details of local governance and particular policy positions but they will vote for the candidate that they perceive as the most liberal. Issues like being pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, favoring removing confederate names and monument (not that we have many) and racial "social justice" are going to be more important than the city's debt, tax rates and an adequately funded pension plans. I hate to be so pessimistic but I do not see an opportunity for a path to victory for a conservative.  About the best we can hope for is a social liberal who is fiscally responsible. You sometime do, but rarely, find that combination.

I would like to see a mayor who would cut the number of metro employees, cut taxes, give employees their promised pay raise, put our pension plan on a sound sustainable footing, address crime, and reform our failing school system.  Since the school system is governed by an elected school board, it is difficult for the mayor to make an immediate and huge impact but the mayor can use the bully pulpit and advocate and influence. If we had the right leader who would tackle the issue, I believe the right leader could make an impact on our education system but it would not be easy.   I would also like to see a mayor who had a vision for improving transportation that relied of new technologies and markets rather than the standard nineteenth century model of fixed rail. I don't expect to find the idea candidate.

I don't think Carol Swain would have much of a chance of winning a race for mayor should she run again.  Her conservative view are too well known. If there was a sensible, pragmatic person running for mayor, such as John Cooper, I would not want Swain to run.  If, however, the only candidates are going to be Briley, Clemmons, Freedman and maybe Erica Gilmore, I would like to see Swain jump in the race.  I would not expect her to win, but if those were the choices, I would vote for her.

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