Hey look! Nashville's mayoral candidates agree on a big issue, that of supplying the city with more affordable housing. In conversations with WPLN's Tony Gonzalez, both Megan Barry and David Fox say they will look for ways to have the city consistently fund The Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, seen by many as the best vehicle to grow Nashville's affordable housing inventory. Case in point: The replacement of the River Village apartments in North Nashville with the $3.2 million, 23-unit complex pictured here.
How the program compares to other cities was on Barry’s mind when asked what she thought of the $65 million target.
“I think that a lot of this is: What are our peer cities doing? And how do we best do what’s best for Nashville? I think that number is not unreasonable.”
Scooter Clippard, a Republican donor and ex-finance chairman for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson's presidential bid, is joining with Jimmy Webb, the business partner of failed mayoral candidate Bill Freeman, to host a $250-a-plate breakfast fundraiser for David Fox next week.
Asked if his colleague's backing of Fox signaled an upcoming endorsement from the former mayoral hopeful, Freeman said: "I wake up every morning just hoping I don't come out in support of somebody."
With less than two weeks until the runoff election, the tone of Nashville's mayoral race isn't softening one bit. On Monday, Megan Barry and David Fox took to the stage at the downtown Rotary Club and traded shots related to a new Fox radio ad that calls Barry and her husband, Bruce, anti-Christian. Chris Bundgaard at News2 sums it all up here.
Part of the radio ad said “so how do Megan and her husband Bruce spend their time since it’s not in the black community. Well, I’ll tell you. They’re opposing the National Day of Prayer, opposing prayer before high school football games, fighting with Christian faith-based organizations that he called and I quote, ‘part of the Jesus Industrial Complex.’ ”
UPDATED at 7:15 p.m.: Barry's campaign provides a statement at the bottom.
First, a release from Fox:
As the voters of Nashville start making their way to the polls this week for early voting, they should know that only David Fox has the chief executive experience needed to lead the city of Nashville as mayor.
Megan Barry has never led an organizatioIn as a chief executive, but is now asking the people of Nashville to make her the CEO of Metro Nashville government.
Most troubling is Megan Barry has repeatedly said she is the principal of Barry and Associates, “an independent consulting organization for multinational corporations,” but there is no evidence of the company’s existence, nor the public disclosure of any income, as required for public office holders, related to this enterprise.
“The people of Nashville deserve to know if Megan Barry has intentionally padded her resume to mislead voters into believing that she has the chief executive experience needed to serve as the next mayor of Nashville,” said Chris Turner, Fox campaign CEO.
“With David Fox, as a successful business leader and the former chair of the Metro Nashville School Board, voters know they will have a Mayor with the experience as a chief executive ready to take on the challenges of the office on day one,” Turner said.
The Nashville Tennessean recently editorialized about David Fox’s chief executive leadership while leading Metro Nashville’s public schools: “[Fox] has solid business acumen and successfully guided MNPS during its biggest crisis — a time when the state threatened to take control of the school system because of its performance. The public schools are better off today.”
Barry spokesman Sean Braisted had this to say:
"Basically Barry & Associates is the firm Megan had when she was freelance consulting between her jobs at Nortel and Premier, and the lead principal title is just sort of a name she used when she accepted corporate money during that time. When she left Premier in 2012, she switched her LinkedIn back to Barry & Associates, but we haven't talked about that business in the campaign and hasn't been something she's made part of her various bios. It's just a desperate attack from David Fox to make an issue out of nothing. She hasn't made income from Barry & Associates since she worked at Premier, but her tax returns from that time you'll see that Barry & Associates is listed there. If Fox's strongest attack is that Megan hasn't been diligently updating her LinkedIn page, I think that says a lot for her."
What role should the mayor play in picking the next director of schools?
“If they want me to help seal the deal with a really promising prospect, I’ll do that," Fox says. "But I’m not going to get my pet candidate and try to inflict it on them because that will be unsuccessful.”
Fox says it’s more important that the board unify behind a candidate. He also happens to have already run afoul of Nashville’s two most vocal school board members — Amy Frogge and Will Pinkston.
By contrast, Megan Barry doesn’t see how she could pass on participating in the search, which has already dragged on for months without success. The at-large council member says the mayor’s role is to “go out and find the best talent.” And she expects the 9-member school board would welcome that.
“I think one of the wonderful things that I’ve got to bring to the mayor’s office is a good working relationship with the school board," she says. "I want to be collaborative with them so that we can bring the best person to Nashville.”
Joey Garrison digs in to if the African-American vote will make the runoff election.
Howard Gentry (who says he hasn't decided if he'll endorse) has a warning:
"It's going to be really based on the candidate," Gentry said when asked who he believes most black voters will support. "Black voters are not sheep. You just don't herd them around. People spent a lot time trying to influence the black vote with people (in the general election). And they're just as intelligent and just as able to make their choices as anybody.
"So, I just believe that whoever appeals to the black vote the greatest, appeals to the issues that are important to the communities that most live, will be the candidate that gets the support."
Meanwhile, Bill Freeman (who also did well in heavily African-American boxes) tells Frank Daniels he's not sure if he'll endorse. That has upset some Democrats, though it's not a total shock given the (ahem) cool relationship Freeman has with former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who endorsed Megan Barry. Furthermore, if, as Freeman repeatedly said during the campaign, he has no further ambition beyond mayor, it doesn't really damage him in Democratic politics to withhold his endorsement (or even to endorse Fox). Future Democratic candidates will no doubt cash Freeman's checks even if he doesn't back Barry.
Former mayor and governor Phil Bredesen doesn't hand out endorsements easily or often — he stayed quiet during the general election though we can probably assume he wasn't going to endorse Bill Freeman — but he's out in favor of Megan Barry.
“The founders of Metro Nashville wisely understood that our city’s government should include everyone. As mayor, I learned that the only way to build a coalition is to push partisan politics aside, and Megan Barry will do that,” Bredesen said in a release from Barry's camp.
An endorsement during the runoff from a moderate Democrat like Bredesen — who, it’s worth noting, is well liked by nearly everyone — could help Barry bring back voters who Fox may have convinced she was too much of a liberal for Nashville. And even if it doesn't convince voters, it's a certain pushback against Fox's claims.
In a statement, Fox said: "Who doesn't love Phil Bredesen. That's a great endorsement. I know Phil Bredesen and Megan Barry have been friends a long time, so I get that. I think we all aspire to be the kind of mayor he was."
And he wraps it with a jealousy-tinged bow: "The good thing is that I'm not running against Phil Bredesen. I'm running against Megan Barry."
Megan Barry and David Fox are headed to a Sep. 10 runoff election after claiming the top two spots in a crowded and costly mayoral race.
Barry, a self-styled progressive coming off of two terms as an at-large member of the Metro Council, was the top vote getter according to unofficial results Thursday night. She came in around 1,500 votes ahead of Fox, with just shy of 24 percent of the vote. If she wins in September — and Metro history is on her side, as no first-place finisher on election night has ever gone on to lose in the runoff — she would become the first woman to win the mayor's office in Nashville's history.
Fox, a fiscal conservative, beat out Bill Freeman for the second spot in the runoff, leaving Freeman to concede the race after spending more than $3.5 million of personal money and entering election day as a perceived frontrunner. Fox had opened up his checkbook as well, loaning his campaign more than $1.5 million of personal money, but had kept a relatively low profile until recent months when his campaign made a major push.
The two candidates didn't waste any time setting up the contrast between themselves in victory speeches at their respective election night watch parties. Speaking before Barry, the Rev. Judy Cummings, the president of the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship who endorsed Barry last month, told a crowd of supporters that what they had was bigger than any Super PAC or personal wealth — a clear shot at Fox, who was supported by an out-of-state conservative Super PAC mostly funded by his brother, and whose personal contributions to the campaign were only surpassed by Freeman. When she took the podium, Barry — who also contributed to her own campaign, but with a relatively small $200,000 — repeatedly returned to the idea that she intended to "earn" her supporters' votes, another bit of rhetoric that seemed aimed directly at her opponent.
For his part, Fox opened by thanking his wife, staff, and supporters and spoke at length about his brother, whom he thanked "for trying to do everything he could to help me." He went on to address two social issues — abortion and same sex marriage — that Barry has spoken on frequently. On both, citing his Jewish faith, Fox espoused a live-and-let-live view. He went on however, to put things a little more on the nose, summing up the situation by adding, "I really think there’s Megan Barry, who’s over on the far left side, on the liberal side, and then there’s generally all the rest of us.”
After Barry and Fox, here's how the rest of the field finished (based on Thursday night's unofficial results):
• Freeman: 21.5 percent
• Howard Gentry: 11.7 percent
• Charles Robert Bone: 10.6 percent
• Linda Eskind Rebrovick: 5.5 percent
• Jeremy Kane: 4.5 percent
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS