Nashville has spoken and elected Freddie O’Connell as its new mayor. He has a vote of confidence by securing 65% of the votes for mayor. Now he has a responsibility and obligation to make Nashville more affordable and accessible for the people who live here. In his campaign, he targeted the indigenous people of Nashville who felt that they were being force out of being able to stay here or who felt left out in profiting from what is now being heralded as the ‘It City.’ It is no secret that outside developers, investors and businesses (even visitors and tourists) are profiting through Nashville’s exponential growth and gentrification. It’s all at the expense of those who are marginalized and simply trying to keep their heads above the waters.
No progressive city should have to apologize for growth, but the people of Nashville want a growth that will take into consideration the wishes of its citizens. They do not want to be overlooked in preference to big corporate interests, private developers and investors. Too many times, elected officials have totally overlooked their constituents’ wants or needs favoring big corporations or businesses.
Some say O’Connell’s appeal to so many Nashville voters resonated when he acted alone as an elected official by voting against the domed football stadium. Many voters didn’t see it as a priority, considering it a project that should be financed by big corporations and private investors alone. His integrity and allegiance to the wishes of the inhabitants of Nashville (even if it meant going against private businesses and corporate interests) warranted him respect as a fighter for the people.
O’Connell advocated for affordable housing, infrastructure catering to safer neighborhoods with sidewalks, education that works for everyone regardless where you live, and a mass transportation system that accommodates all Nashvillians. He has committed Nashville to a mantra going forward concentrating on how the city moves, grows and works. Voters hope O’Connell is the conduit that will be able to include the common working people of Nashville with the interests of corporate business and private investors involved in making plans for our city. By electing Freddie O’Connell, Nahvillians are making a statement that we want a city that is inclusive of everyone.
To make sure O’Connell stays true to the values and commitments he campaigned on, he must be transparent and informative in keeping his constituents abreast of what is being considered or planned for the city. He must always be open to citizens’ concerns and input. As it stands now, most of the voters of Nashville have given him their seal of approval and are eager to work with him to make Nashville what it should be.
O’Connell must also be cognizant that a majority of the African American voters in Nashville helped elect him. Promoting projects to enhance and advance predominately Black communities (such as North Nashville) won’t be overlooked. Improvements to African American communities must not be put on the back burner. Hopefully, the new mayor will be visible in the Black community and offer uplifting projects to better the community. Time will tell if his motives are authentic, and we are hoping they are.
Once again, congratulations to Nashville’s new mayor. We wish him well in his pursuit to serve all the people of Nashville.