NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — This August, Nashvillians will head to the polls to vote in the Metropolitan General Election.
Earlier this year, Mayor John Cooper announced he would not be seeking re-election, creating a wide-open field of candidates in the race to be the next mayor of Music City.
One of those candidates is Bernie Cox.
Cox is a business owner, entrepreneur, and self-described “non-politician.” He previously ran for mayor in 2019, losing in the general election.
News 2 submitted questionnaires to each of the candidates running for Nashville mayor. The form featured six questions addressing some of Music City’s biggest issues—including crime rates, mass transit, homelessness, and the Metro government’s current relationship with the state government. Below you will find Cox’s answers to those questions.
How would you address the homelessness issues in Nashville?
Cox: “The homeless community have very limited options due to limited resources. You would be surprised how many have fallen due to circumstances with little or no support . . . and no back door to re-enter society. I have spoken to many in the homeless community, and a desire to remove themselves from poverty is heard in most voices. They want to be treated with respect again, and the way to do that is by providing Homeless Community Centers to train and offer showers, clothing and education for those that WANT help. ‘GIVE a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. TEACH a man to fish . . . he’ll eat for a lifetime.'”
What does the future of mass transit look like in Nashville, in your opinion?
Cox: “There has been amazing growth and development that has created traffic congestion within our city and suburbs. Many have proposed space-aged ideas that could not become reality for decades. We need to manage growth, and with that, traffic into and out of the city. That is something that nearly every candidate approaches in their platform, and rightly so. However, my position is that we must manage that growth within our budgetary constraints, which means, we should not invest billions of borrowed money now to build a pipe dream of transportation solutions. We can do more with less if we’re smart about incremental improvements. Mass transit in regards to the Nashville bus system has more than 50 routes across the city. A good place to begin would be to increase or even double that number of routes. This would be a good place to start. However, I would work with my transportation team to figure out how we increase that service in a responsible manner.”
If elected, how would you work to repair the relationship between the Metro Nashville government and the state government?
Cox: “Perhaps this question is aimed at House Bill 48 that would reduce metropolitan councils from 40 to 20 members. The argument is whether or not legislature has the authority to encroach on the local government.
I am a strong supporter to eliminate waste in the government. Eliminate, or at best, reduce our spending problem. This will be a challenge as previous administrations have incurred obligations for us, but we must not only try, we must do it. When it comes to politics as usual, the government is the problem, not the solution. It will be one of my top priorities on a weekly basis to roll up our sleeves, identify the ineffective and inefficient programs and close them. That will not make my administration popular with those affected, and will likely garner negative press at every turn, but I’m not running for the Most Popular Politician award. I’m running to solve problems for Nashville with intentions to work uniformly with state government.”
What would be your approach to addressing crime in the city and the increasing rate of violent crimes committed by juveniles?
Cox: “This is not as difficult as it may seem. Enforce existing laws and take politics out of the equation to Support Law Enforcement.
Our first responders and law enforcement are key to safety and preservation of Nashville tourism and residents. They need to be supported and believe that our city and administration have their back while they have ours. It’s about building motivation and security within the departments themselves and not allowing politics to reduce their values to protect, for fear of ridicule by government bureaucracy.”
How would you address the lack of affordable housing options around the city?
Cox: “This question cannot be directed solely to Nashville. It is a national problem that has saturated the entire country due to our continued dependence on others as opposed to independence. Politics is in the way depending if you carry a D or an R in front of your name. There is a continued divisiveness as politicians choose politics over policy, often compromising what is best for Nashville.
This is a rather open-ended, somewhat hypothetical question, so let me just respond that I firmly believe there are neighborhoods around the city in need of city-provided funding. One of my utmost duties as mayor is to see that those neighborhoods with the greatest need receive the much-needed funding to enhance their neighborhoods, regardless of property values. We are all taxpayers, therefore we are all equal in services for those neighborhoods and they should receive government funding.”
What do you believe is the biggest issue affecting Nashville and how would you plan to address it?
Cox: “I see the image of Nashville roots in jeopardy of being permanently tarnished by a flurry of mismanagement. For instance, the fastest-growing investment market in the country is in jeopardy of diluting our Music City culture and unique downtown architectural atmosphere. I will re-focus city development on those projects that enhance our heritage, protecting the tourism industry, and all while operating within our revenue streams. Our most positive characteristic of Nashville is our charm. Our historic architecture of brick and mortar, artsy streets and downtown neighborhoods make us what we have been most famously known for around the world. Let’s stay true to our roots and what got us here in the first place.”
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To read responses from other candidates in the race, click here.
The Metropolitan General Election takes place on August 3. A runoff will be held on September 14, if necessary.
Candidates have until noon on May 18 to qualify.