On Tuesday, a crowd gathered at the steps of the Metropolitan Court House amid cries of “Not my mayor”, to call for the resignation of Mayor Megan Barry.
In response to the rally, Barry said in a statement, “As I go out into the community and I meet with and talk to Nashvillians, I am inspired. They tell me they want me to keep doing my job and moving Nashville forward as the Mayor and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
I just think what she did was wrong,” said one member of the crowd. “I’m not holding her to a higher standard than I do anyone else.
Mayor Barry has admitted to having an extramarital affair with her head of security, Sergeant Robert Forrest. Just prior to the Mayor’s announcement, Forrest, a 14 year veteran of the Nashville Metropolitan Police, retired and is set to receive an $80,000 pension.
Currently, there are at least three separate investigations looking into the affair and improprieties that may have occurred; particularly the misuse of public funds for trips taken alone with Forrest during the period she confirms that they were having an affair.
In her apology for the affair, Barry said, “God will forgive me, but the people of Nashville don’t have to. In the weeks and months to come, I will work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust.”
Johann Porisch, lead organizer of the Recall Megan Barry campaign says a statement that the Mayor made in apologizing for the affair is the reason he is leading the charge for the recall election.
“Once the recall election is set she will have an opportunity to present her case to Nashville,” said Porisch. “Megan Barry in her newspaper interview with the Tennessean said, ‘If you the people of Nashville will have me back, I would like the chance to work my heart out for you.’ Currently we have no say in that matter, but this gives us, and her, the opportunity to see if the voters of Nashville want her to continue to be the executive who runs our city.”
The Recall Megan Barry petition needs about 60,000 signatures from registered voters in Davidson County in order for the election commission to set a recall election. The group says that it is in the process of filing a Super PAC in order to collect donations from not just in Tennessee, but across the country.
“That will allow us to become an example for other communities where folks have an executive that abused the public trust and misused the taxpayer’s money,” said Porisch
Rally organizer Rick Williams hopes it will not come to that saying, “If she doesn’t resign, we will go forward with a recall effort.”
Standing before the crowd, Dr. Carol Swain said, “We are here because leadership matters, and so does good government. We believe our city, our state, and our children will be best served by the immediate resignation of Mayor Megan Barry. Her illicit affair with a married subordinate shows an abuse of power and pocketbook.”
“Nashville is now a city with an administration that lacks the moral authority needed to conduct city businesses without projecting an air of corruption to the outside world,” Swain continued.
Lisa Bradshaw, who is part of a group that plans to file an ethics violation, said that she is asking for the Mayor’s resignation because the mayor has “shocked and embarrassed our community.”
“As a Nashville born resident, I was proud to say that we elected our first female mayor,” said Bradshaw, “but I am saddened by her actions that have now divided the Metro Nashville community. To continue as mayor will prolong this division within our city. We deserve to heal and move forward without the distraction and cost of numerous investigations because of [her] mistake.”
Rev. Enoch Fuzz stood before the crowd and said, “When the mayor was running for office, I remember saying to hear, if you are one of the last two people, I’m gonna support you. And when she became one of those people, we held a breakfast in the black community, and I asked for African-American voters to get behind her.”
Fuzz then proceeded to criticize the Mayor for her mishandling of the city from the underfunding and attempted closure of Nashville General Hospital to the huge increase in the Nashville crime rate.
Fuzz also commented on the investigations into the mayor’s conduct, specifically a trip to Greece she took alone with Forrest for a Democracy forum. “I don’t know how long it takes, or what it takes, to figure out that the trips were not based on city business as much as they were based on monkey business,” he said. “I would think that if I am going to Greece to look at best practices, I would take a delegation of my administration to help me to judge and see what’s going on-not a policeman. Something is very wrong in city hall.”
“I want to teach everybody how you spell respect,” called Pastor Fuzz. “R-E-S-I-G-N, spells respect!”
“R-E-S-I-G-N”, repeated the crowd.