Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean speaks at Vanderbilt

Todd Polk

Vanderbilt Law School graduate and former Mayor of Nashville Karl Dean spoke at a Vanderbilt College Democrats meeting this past Sunday, paying a visit to the school while campaigning for the 2018 Gubernatorial elections.

Dean had previously served as Public Defender of Nashville and as Nashville Director of Law under former mayor Bill Purcell before becoming mayor himself in 2007. During Dean’s time as mayor, the city weathered both the Great Recession of 2008 and the Nashville Flood of 2010. When asked about his favorite initiative as mayor, Dean replied that he loved the Limitless Libraries program, a program meant to connect public school students with books, music, and movies from public libraries across the city.

In his speech, Dean emphasized that his platform as a gubernatorial primary candidate can be summed up in three points: public education, public safety and economic development. The initiatives echo his priorities as Nashville’s mayor, but Dean assured his audience that he intends to give special attention to problems plaguing the rural areas of Tennessee. He and his campaign staff have already visited more than 60 of the state’s 95 counties.

According to Dean, one issue that unites both urban and rural Tennessee voters is healthcare. The state has one of the highest rates of hospital closures in country, and Dean noted that rural countries bear the brunt of the problem. For those who do have access to healthcare, insurances becomes an issue thanks to the state’s decision to opt-out of Medicaid expansion.

After the former mayor’s opening presentation, audience members pressed for specifics on how a mayor of a ‘liberal’ city could hope to win the votes of a Republican-majority state. Dean responded that reception to his campaign so far has been good. He believes his platform is one that both Democrats and Republicans could agree on.

Karl Dean is one of the two Democratic primary candidates for the 2018 Tennessee Gubernatorial Elections. VCD has also invited the other primary candidate, Craig Fitzhugh, to speak.

*Neither the Vanderbilt Hustler nor the Vanderbilt College Democrats endorse any Democratic candidate during the primary gubernatorial election.