At-Large Metro Councilmember John Cooper defeated incumbent Mayor David Briley in the runoff election for Nashville mayor Thursday. Briley conceded the race after the results of early voting showed that, of around 49,000 votes, Cooper received 70 percent to Briley’s 30 percent.
Briley was the first mayor of Nashville’s Metro government (formed in 1963) to lose a re-election bid. He assumed the office upon the resignation of Mayor Megan Barry in March 2018 and won a special election in May 2018 to complete Barry’s term.
Cooper emphasized shifting focus to neighborhoods and away from economic incentives for downtown projects in his campaign. He criticized Briley’s plan to fund affordable housing through municipal bond-borrowing. Cooper said the city needs to use it surpluses more efficiently as opposed to raising property taxes.
Briley campaigned on his record since becoming mayor, saying his accomplishments included not raising property taxes, establishing a college scholarship program for public school graduates, and a $500 million public investment in affordable housing over a decade.
Briley said he had fought for progressive causes and that Cooper had a conservative approach, while Cooper called his own approach effective progressivism. Both Briley and Cooper identify as Democrats.
Among the 100 largest cities by population in the U.S., 62 mayors are Democrats, 30 are Republicans, four are independents, and four are nonpartisan. Though most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.
Nashville was the 25th-largest city in the U.S. as of 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.