David Briley Wins Mayoral Special Election



Nashville Mayor David Briley speaks to supporters after winning a special election to remain as mayor, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Briley took over as the city’s mayor in early March after Megan Barry resigned from her position as part of a plea agreement for felony theft charges. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Noah van Mierlo

This past Thursday, Nashville Mayor David Briley won the special election for the rest of former Mayor Megan Barry’s term. Briley won 54.5 percent of the vote, with former Vanderbilt political science professor Carol Swain coming in a distant second place.

Behind her 22.9 percent of the vote was a flurry of 11 candidates who received no more than 6 percent of the vote. Among them included some disappointed high-profile candidates such as at-large councilwoman Erica Gilmore and state representative Harold Love (D-Nashville), who many expected to give Swain a run for second place. However, since Briley received more than 50 percent of the vote, he avoided a potential runoff with Swain, which would have taken place in June.

Briley was sworn into the mayor’s office in early March, after Megan Barry resigned from the post. Barry plead guilty to felony theft over improper use of public funds, related to her extramarital affair with a member of her security personnel.

Before being promoted to the mayor’s office under unprecedented circumstances, Briley had been serving as vice mayor since 2015. From 1999 to 2007, Briley was an at-large councilman; his grandfather, Beverly Briley, was the first-ever mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville. The freeway known as Briley Parkway was named after the elder Briley – this shared name recognition surely helped the younger Briley in what was already a shortened race, thanks to a decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“Obviously, it’s an honor [to win],” Briley said to the Vanderbilt Political Review. “It’s a great responsibility and a privilege to lead the city. I’m glad that we came together and decided to put this moment behind us,” Briley said, referring to former Mayor Barry’s scandal, “and to give me a little bit of time to run the city, to get focused on what’s important to Nashville: basic stuff like running the government, trying to bring people together, building some trust… there’s a long list of things to focus on.”

Despite winning this election, Briley will only serve until the next regularly scheduled election, in August of next year. This only gives the newly-minted Mayor a little over a year to make his mark on the city, if he doesn’t run again in 2019. When a supporter yelled “5 more years!” during Briley’s victory speech, the mayor commented, “We don’t do that… we take it one step at a time.”

VPR then asked if there was anything that Mayor Briley wanted to say to Vanderbilt students, many of whom were unaware of this special election. “For somebody that’s been in Nashville for many years, I think it’s one of the clearest things to say that Vanderbilt students have played a crucial role in making the city what it is today,” Briley said. “So I encourage every Vandy student to stay here after they graduate; use their intellectual capital, their financial capital, to build a better city because it’s really important to us all.”


Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey