Metro Departments host Open House at Howard School

(l-r) Brenda Wynn, Howard Gentry, Vivian Wilhoite (photo by Cass Teague)

Vivian Wilhoite, Brenda Wynn and Charlie Cardwell welcomed the Metro Nashville community to meet and mingle with present and former employees of their Metro government departments at their annual post-holiday Open House on Tuesday, January 9. The annual celebration and community engagement event is presented by the three public servants who share office space. Their departments are the Office of Assessor of Property, Davidson County Clerk, and Davidson County Trustee, respectively. The event was held in the Sonny West Conference Center in the building they share on the Metro services Richard Fulton Campus on 2nd Avenue South.

“It’s a way of saying Happy New Year to all of the constituents and property owners of Davidson County and let them know our offices are a welcoming place for them to come and get their issues resolved,” Vivian Wilhoite said at the event. “We see ourselves as an ‘issue-resolving’ location. For me and our office it is a way of saying to people not only are we happy to see you and happy new year, but reminding people they can read, they can appeal their property values again this year, they have until April 27 at 4 pm to appeal their value, and this is something they can get that option every year. It’s also an opportunity to get to know what the other offices do… they get the opportunity to meet the Clerk, Brenda Wynn… and our trustee who collects the property taxes.”

Wilhoite is a native of Gulfport, Mississippi who came to Nashville to attend Tennessee State University (TSU). Upon graduation from TSU, Vivian started her professional career as a Real Estate Appraiser at the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, ascended to Chief of the Consumer Services Division and concluded her career as the TRA’s statewide representative for Consumer Education & Outreach. In 2003, she was elected to the Metro Council for District 29. In 2007, she was re-elected by 72% of the votes., and after serving eight years on the Metro Council, Vivian ran for the Office of the Assessor of Property for Davidson County. On August 31, 2016, she became the first African American to hold the office.

“It’s an event we hold annually after Christmas and we do it to celebrate the citizens of Nashville,” said County Clerk Brenda Wynn.”

Brenda grew up in Nashville and is a graduate of Pearl High School. She received a bachelor of science and a master’s degree in business administration from Tennessee State University. Brenda was appointed Davidson County Clerk by the Metro Council in August 2012. She was elected County Clerk by the voters of Nashville & Davidson County in November 2012, becoming the first African-American female to win election to a constitutional office in the County.
“They invite everybody from the community to come out and see what they do, meet their staff and just to meet-and-greet,” said Judge Allegra Walker. “Also it’s a reunion opportunity for other people who used to work in those three offices in Metro government. So that’s why I’m here, just to participate in that and support my colleagues.”

Allegra Montgomery Walker was elected to General Sessions Court, Div. IV August 2014. Before being elected, she served an Assistant District Attorney for the Davidson County District Attorneys General’s Office. In addition to serving as a prosecutor, Judge Walker served as an Assistant Public Defender for the Davidson County Public Defender’s Office. Judge Walker earned her B.S. degree from Fisk University and her J.D. degree from the University of Toledo.
“The turnout has been phenomenal, said Wynn. “We’ve been so excited to see so many wonderful folks come through and it’s our great joy, again, to do this to celebrate our citizens.”

Among the hundreds of people in attendance were former Metro Councilman Vernon Winfrey, who shared his (and everyone’s) joy over his daughter Orpah’s amazing speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday. He posed for a photo for the PRIDE with two of Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry’s daughters. Also in attendance were former Metro Councilman Kwame Lillard, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Special Projects Grant Winrow, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Director of Community Relations Pastor Thomas Hunter, Nashville PRIDE publisher Meekahl Davis, Judge Joy Sims, Rev. Judy Cummings, Rev. Howard Jones, Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, Arnette Bodenhamer, Renee Hampton, Ana Escobar and many more.

“I just look forward to it every year,” said Wilhoite. “It’s been a great turnout!”