With election day just a few weeks away, Mayor David Briley and At-Large Council Member John Cooper gave impassioned answers to the biggest questions concerning Nashville’s future at the runoff mayoral debate Monday.
The debate — hosted by NewsChannel 5, The Tennessean and Belmont University at the Bill and Carole Troutt Theater, and moderated by Rhori Johnston and Jessica Bliss— gave the candidates an hour to address issues such as city infrastructure, education spending, quality neighborhoods and more.
On several occasions, Briley pointed out Cooper’s record versus the promises he has made on the campaign trail, specifically on when it came to investing in neighborhoods.
“The clear votes of my opponent is when there are opportunities to invest in our neighborhoods, before he was running for mayor, he opposed them, runs for mayor, he supports them,” Briley said.
Throughout the debate, Briley emphasized his uniquely progressive platform that values people over everything else.
“I don’t think it’s just about numbers. It’s about people. Being mayor is about people.”
Cooper’s platforms and policies focused on how intelligent spending and fiscal responsibility are the keys to support Nashville’s residents.
“You can’t help people without money. You got to get the money right.”
Education was one of the issues both candidates agreed needed to be focused on if elected. As mayor, Cooper said half of new revenue will go towards education. Briley, though, dismissed this just a “campaign pledge,” and said one of the major issues with schools are the current demographics.
“I don’t like saying it, but our schools have resegregated,” Briley said. “If we want to fundamentally change that, teachers’ pay is part of that.”
Beyond just education, both candidates also addressed first responders’ response rates, juvenile crime and the effect of tourism on neighborhoods. Briley set himself apart from Cooper with his strong stance on gun violence.
“The mayor of the city ought to stand up and say it’s time to fix the broken gun laws in this country that allow people to go around with weapons of war into a Waffle House in the middle of the night and execute people,” he said.
In their closing statements, the candidates made their cases to Nashvillians, doubling down on the points they presented throughout the debate. Briley spoke to his career of progressive policies and how he has “fought every single day” for others.
“Fundamentally some people need more help than others, and money should never stand in the way of our taking care of them. “
Cooper closed the debate mentioning the great opportunities tourism money can have on the Nashville community, reiterating that the mayor’s job is to look after the finances.
“Who else is going to look after the numbers?” Cooper asked.
The runoff election for Nashville major is Sept. 12.
Photo by Sam Simpkins, courtesy of Office of Communications.