Top Nashville mayoral candidates meet in first televised debate

The four top candidates in Nashville’s mayoral election appeared in the race’s first televised debate on June 25. Incumbent Mayor David Briley, state Rep. John Clemmons (D), City Councilman John Cooper, retired professor Carol Swain, and six other candidates are running in the August 1 general election.
The candidates discussed property taxes, economic incentives for businesses, infrastructure, affordable housing, juvenile crime rates, and the state of the city’s public schools, among other issues.
Some highlights from the debate included the following:
  • Briley and Cooper spoke about their opposition to a revenue plan that included a property tax increase. The plan was voted down by the city council recently. Swain also opposed the increase, while Clemmons said the increase was needed to fund schools.
  • Briley highlighted his affordable housing plan, which will commit $500 million toward units over the next 10 years. Clemmons said Briley has not treated the affordable housing issue as a crisis and that, as mayor, he would put money into a housing fund and create a land bank, among other efforts. Swain said her plan focuses on those earning $50,000 or less a year and using city-owned land for affordable housing construction. Cooper said his background in real estate equipped him to address the issue and criticized Briley’s plan, saying it doesn’t offer a good return on investment.
Last week, Clemmons was endorsed by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association PAC. The Nashville Education Association supported the proposed property tax increase that was rejected by the council and supported by Clemmons. This week, Briley received the Nashville Business Coalition’s endorsement, and Cooper was backed by the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police.
A runoff election will be held September 12 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote August 1. Briley assumed office in March 2018 upon his predecessor Megan Barry’s resignation and won a special election to complete her term in May 2018.
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