Nashville Mayor David Briley hustled to a solid victory Thursday night in the special election to fulfill the remainder of Megan Barry's term, holding off a dozen challengers.
Briley earned 54 percent of the vote, topping second-place finisher Carol Swain by 31 points. No other candidate in the crowded field broke double digits. (Full results via the election commission.)
"I will always work hard to live up to that honor, to that privilege, of having trust bestowed on me," Briley told the supporters who rallied at Cabana in Hillsboro Village. "We know that we have challenges, but I think we also deeply understand and appreciate the fact that our city is going in the right direction."
Briley secured the majority he needed to avoid a runoff and thanked a broad coalition of voters who supported him after a short sprint of a race.
Briley first stepped into the mayor’s office in March, and not by choice — he succeeded Megan Barry and admitted he didn’t love the circumstances.
Even in celebrating his earned victory, over the crowded field, he said he expects hard work and pointed to better schools, neighborhoods and quality of life as priorities.
“We have lower unemployment, we’re building more, we’ve got more wealth than we’ve ever had before. But it’s clear to me in the last few weeks and in the last few months that we have got to come together more as a community to lift up the people who are not,” Briley said.
He called recent budget constraints his greatest disappointment and was blunt about the need for local government to regain trust.
And he put out a challenge to Nashvillians to be more civil and empathetic — by seeking out and getting to know a stranger, “because we need to talk to each other a little bit more. We need to build a little bit more trust with each other. We need to come together and build a better Nashville.”
Voters Weighed In On Crowded Field
In an interview with WPLN, Swain, a conservative commentator and former Vanderbilt University professor, acknowledged defeat, and said her candidacy was really intended to raise questions about how the city is being managed.
"The whole purpose of my running was to try to give Nashville a choice," she said. "We were grossly outspent, but I think we ran a great campaign."
All 12 of Briley's opponents often took contrarian views, leaving the mayor as the only supporter, for instance, of the transit plan that failed earlier this month.
The goal of the challengers seemed to be to find ways to distance themselves from the current administration and that of Barry, who stepped down in March following revelations that she'd had an affair with her bodyguard. Barry later pleaded guilty to misuing government funds and agreed to repay $11,000.
But Walter Blackman, a voter in West Nashville, said he supported Briley, in part, because most of his challengers seemed too eager to shake things up.
“I think turnover, it can be the devil when it comes to politics," he said. "I think somebody trying to come in to prove the status quo wrong can lend itself to kind of an unfavorable move.”
Some voters commended Briley’s style — reserved and thoughtful. Others noted his long history in Nashville politics, from a grandfather who was mayor to his own time on the Metro Council and as vice mayor.
“I think he is a progressive, and at the same time I think he is a realistic progressive knowing that choices do have to be made," said Robin Webb, a voter in Donelson.
The victory means that Briley will remain in office until at least next summer, when Barry's original term would have concluded. He's eligible to run for re-election.