Finally, we're getting closer to a debate between the mayoral candidates thanks to WSMV. I'm tired of the polite exchange of prepared statements between these guys. I'm not learning anything substantive that way. I don't get to see how they act under even this little bit of pressure. I didn't learn much this evening but as Dan Miller said several times about the candidates challenging candidates: "That was fun."
I was dealing with some family stuff so I had to step out now and then.
Where was Kenneth Eaton?
Were only members of good standing from the Chamber of Commerce allowed to ask questions? I know they were co-sponsors of the event but come on--they couldn't put in a couple of regular citizens? Well, we have a Chamber Board of Education I guess a Chamber picked mayor seems the next step. They're no doubt working on the council too.
Briley came off as pessimist prophesying a couple of times of hard financial times that will come. * Of course downtimes do come. But it seems he could have presented this as a wise thing to do and not left a fearful impression of the future. The most surprising comment came from Briley when he stated in an exchange with Buck Dozier that:
...he disagrees with his fellow councilman’s proposal for the next mayor to lead a private-sector effort to build a $1 billion endowment for the public school system. Rather, he asked Dozier to commit to helping him build a $50 million endowment for Fisk University. Dozier answered affirmatively and suggested Briley reconsider helping with the $1 billion endowment. City PaperDoes Briley really think that creating an endowment for Fisk University is more important than creating one for Metro Nashville Public Schools? Why is it good for one but not the other? Maybe he will need a "Deputy Mayor of Education".
"Regarding vocational education, he said he has a problem with that term and that education in technology should be a priority — “We cannot pretend like there are going to be jobs running lathes in this community in 20 years.” TennesseanI think he's wrong. I think there will be machinists, and plumbers, car mechanics and plumbers for a good long time. It comes across as a bit snobbish to not want to call training in these vocations vocational training. These are all honest and necessary skills. We can discuss whether the public should be paying for the training in our high schools but I don't think we should accept Briley's assertion that there will be no need for lathe operators in Nashville in 2027.
Briley is 43. His grandfather and former Metro Mayor Beverly Briley left office in 1975 and died in 1980. I'm not putting much confidence in his understanding of his grandfather's job at 11 or even 16 years of age and don't consider this response a strong one to the very important "depth of experience" question.
Gentry, who is Metro's vice mayor, asked Briley how he would reassure voters that he has "the depth of experience" to be mayor.Briley, 43, alluded to his late grandfather, Beverly Briley, saying he had learned "from a mayor who's not around anymore" that being mayor is about making hard decisions every day. Tennessean
Clement and Gentry seemed pretty light weight and both had a hard time with enunciation and while that may seem a small thing to those born and raised here--it won't come off very well to those who've moved here from elsewhere and will be voting. I cringed several times wondering how they would appear to the rest of the world.
The City Paper rightly reports on Clement's previous mass transit record:
Mass transit is perhaps a sensitive topic for Clement given that two mass transit projects in Nashville he helped secure federal money for during his Congressional terms — the Clement Landport and the Music City Star — are presently facing some difficulties.They're being kind. I just don't see Clement as a real leader for the community. He kept falling back on his talking points and just didn't seem comfortable speaking off the cuff. I have no confidence that he'll be able to bring in any cash for such projects from his, as we speak, aging contacts in Washington DC. Further, it's still tax money and I'm concerned about that.
And his response to Briley's question about his voting against employee verification wasn't strong at all. He didn't even address that specific vote directly throwing down some smoke instead by saying he'd voted on thousands of bills/amendments and he was for legal, not illegal, immigration.
Dean was polished, well spoken and there wasn't much to criticize. He's right. If we get public education and safety down cold a lot of other issues will be taken care of. He didn't have a very forceful answer to the question about his support for public education when his own children were privately educated. Obviously, I think you can support public education and still not have your children in the system. Would Gentry have questioned former Mayor (current Governor) Phil Bredesen about his son's attendance at the University School?
Dozier still seems at ease, good humored and knowledgeable. He stood firmly by his vote against the "English First" bill with a strong phrase saying it was: "redundant and anemic and illegal" (OK, in the end it was anemic). He gets credit for sticking to his guns. Oddly he seemed to give Howard Gentry a soft question regarding the homeless acknowledging Gentry probably had more experience than the rest on this question.
*Update: Sean Braisted disagrees in the comments section. I don't have time to double check all the tape but I will insert here for now that in Part 5 Briley says at 1:28: "I'm incredibly optimistic about the future of this community and I, frankly, don't believe we're going to have a major budget crisis in the future...if..., if..., if....' I'll check later and see where I got the impression that he was the Eor of the candidates.