It has been a tumultuous year for Nashville, and the current mayoral race has done nothing to ease that condition thus far. Acting Mayor David Briley faces eleven—yes, eleven—challengers in the race, though he has a clear advantage as a former councilman and vice-mayor, and as the steady hand who has guided Nashville through its recent turbulence with relative grace.
Out & About Nashville’s Editorial Board endorses Mayor Briley as the best candidate to lead our city through the current turbulence into its continued growth and prosperity. Mayor Briley has cultivated strong relationships with business leaders, but he has shown himself responsive to the concerns of under-represented interests in this city.
Mayor Briley was not afraid to support our community when doing so wasn’t safe, even in Nashville. He supported non-discrimination when it was killed, and has always been there to vote to defend the rights of members of our community.
When Mayor Briley sat down with our correspondent Julie Chase, a transwoman, he provided unambiguous support: “I will do whatever it takes to protect LGBTQ+ rights. I have worked with the city’s lobbyists and we have already had an opportunity to weigh in on that so-called bathroom bill that was up again this year to do what was right for our city and its residents on that… I’m opposed to anything like that from a moral perspective and it’s also very bad for business on top of that.”
Mayor Briley may not satisfy voters who demand a so-called “progressive” ideological purity: he will work for and with businesses to build the economic base of Nashville. But his commitments indicate that he will do so in the interest of creating a better and stronger Nashville for all its citizens.
Amongst the contenders are a number of good and reasonable people, and no one could be faulted for casting their vote for these individuals. Erica Gilmore, for instance, comes to mind as one such candidate. Others, like conservative former talk-radio host Ralph Bristol, are much more dubious fits for Nashville, and its political scene: Bristol for instance did not shy away from defending racial profiling as a legitimate policing technique.
If none of the candidates excite you, we implore you to consider that a Briley loss would likely mean a victory for Carol Swain, the former Vanderbilt Law professor whose infamous conservatism is reported to have stepped way over the line in the classroom. You may recall that Swain has been widely criticized for transphobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, and sometimes anti-black commentary. And if all that’s not enough, the Nashville Koch brothers—the Beamans—are her biggest fans: Lee Beaman, with his deep pockets, is her finance chair!
Make no mistake: if you are a member of the LGBT community or an ally, and identify as a conservative, a vote for Swain is a vote for anti-LGBT hate, and to set that hate in power over our city. Perhaps this seems a strong way to characterize Swain, but her own words condemn her as the worst kind of bigot.
For instance, Swain recently wrote on Facebook: “It’s too bad that the LGBT activists and lobbyist feel no moral compulsion to tell people the truth about the health consequences of homosexual sexual practices. People need to know the truth before they experiment. #LGBT” This was in reference to sharing an article entitled “Listening to the Truth as Hollywood Tells Teens to Come Out.” Swain adheres to, and promotes, ideas that land LGBT kids and adults in hospitals and graveyards.
Briley is diametrically opposite Swain, and by comparison to his compassion and composure, she is chilling. Will hate come to Nashville on the back of voter apathy, or will our community gather beneath Briley’s banner to defeat the Beaman brothers’ newest rented politician?
Out & About Nashville’s Editorial Board