In his first State of Metro address, Mayor David Briley outlined priorities of his new administration, honored the remarkable heroics and successes of Nashville citizens, and highlighted the city’s historic spirit of collaboration to overcome differences and achieve greatness.
Like his grandfather, who was the first mayor of Metropolitan Government and known for building consensus in what was a defining moment for the reorganization of city government, Mayor Briley said: “The work of leading us to heal our divisions so that we can find a common way forward, the work of persuading Nashvillians to provide for today while also acting today for the sake of tomorrow, now falls to me.”
Highlighting priorities, Mayor Briley emphasized that while Metro Government faces short-term budgetary challenges, his administration will seek no additional tax increases and will advance a status quo budget with Metro departments fulfilling all services at consistently high levels. He pledged belt-tightening stewardship and continued innovation and thanked Metro Council members for their partnership in the work of leading the city.
Mayor Briley said that while voters this week rejected a multi-modal transit proposal, solving congestion with effective transit solutions remains a civic priority. He started meeting with transit proposal opponents the day after the vote and said he will continue pressing for a solution that gains broad community support.
Among the unusual and often challenging events of 2018, Mayor Briley acknowledged the Waffle House shooting on April 22 and thanked the people of Antioch for their strength. He recognized the exceptional work of all the police officers, firefighters and health care workers who responded to the crisis, as well as James Shaw, Jr., who heroically disarmed the shooter.
“Armed only with his quick wits, quick feet and quick, strong hands, he disarmed the man. Without his courage, the devastation at the Waffle House would have been far worse,” Briley said.
To exemplify the spirit of unity, Mayor Briley also shared the stories of three individuals who, with the help of city services, overcame adversity and achieved success. They included:
• Lateasha Davis, who used Metropolitan Transit Authority bus service to travel to a training program that helped her secure a new career in construction that doubled her pay;
• Loai Amanuel, who won more than one student Emmy Award for films he produced at Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, including a documentary about his journey as a 10-year-old refugee from Iraq to a 16-year-old U.S. citizen. Amanuel will attend Belmont University on a full academic scholarship this fall; and
• Adanna Brown, who overcame a traumatic adverse childhood experience and went on to become salutatorian of her graduating class at Hunters Lane High School, will attend Vanderbilt University this fall to study cognitive behavioral therapy for children.
Education, through career advancement training and within Metro Nashville Public Schools, is a key feature in each of these stories, underscoring its central role in Nashville’s future, Mayor Briley said.
“Education is the biggest key to Nashville’s success. The essential work of a city boils down to creating access to educational capital, access to financial capital, and a level playing field. The first of those, access to education, often leads to the other two,” he said.
Noting Nashville’s tremendous economic growth and prosperity, Mayor Briley spoke of his strong commitment that all Nashville residents are positioned to benefit from the city’s success regardless of finances or background.
Metro will turn the former Greer Stadium site at Fort Negley into a park and move forward on construction of a new Major League Soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville in 2018. But the city’s focus for most infrastructure projects will be neighborhood and quality of life priorities such as green space acquisition; tree planting to meet a goal of 500,000 new trees by the year 2050; and sidewalk and bikeway construction, he said.
With many Nashvillians experiencing homelessness and addiction as well as limited access to affordable housing, Mayor Briley also announced the creation of the Metro Community Behavioral Health and Wellness Advisory Council to address the devastating impact of substance abuse on the community.
The mayor closed his speech with a tribute to his mother, Jeannine Briley, who served as director of Volunteer Services at General Hospital, where “she proved, like so many Nashvillians do every day, that sacrifice leads to success.”
The event featured performances by the Nashville School of the Arts Jazz Combo Group and Nashville’s 2018 Youth Poet Laureate, Haviland Whiting, who read her poem about the city and all the people who call Nashville home. Faith leaders Rev. John Faison of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church and Rabbi Shana Mackler of The Temple, Congregation Ohabai Sholom read blessings for the city.