ROSENBLUM: Nashville’s newly elected mayor will benefit Vanderbilt students’ quality of life

Nashville’s recent election of John Cooper as Mayor may lead to meaningful changes for Vanderbilt Students.


Emily Gonçalves

The US Supreme Court concluded that the dismantlement of DACA was unconstitutional.

Jack Rosenblum, Deputy Opinion Editor

While most Vandy students love to take advantage of everything the city of Nashville has to offer, few are aware of the politics involved in making this city run and how the city’s leaders directly affect our students. Working in the background, politicians can make large impacts on our experience in this city, making it worth examining what they have to offer.

On Thursday, Nashville elected at-large metro council member, John Cooper, as the new mayor, replacing the incumbent Mayor David Briley in a runoff election.  These two candidates received the most votes out of ten total candidates (including former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain) in the general election back in August, but neither received the majority necessary to win.  So the city of Nashville held a run-off election Sept. 12 in which Cooper won by over 30,000 votes, representing the first time Nashville’s incumbent mayor lost the bid for reelection. 

While both candidates offered similar ideas and interests for the city, Cooper suggested much more concrete plans that would more directly benefit the Vanderbilt community.  Although Cooper and Briley are self-identified democrats, Briley argued that the mayor should be a symbolic representation of the issues that matter to people, such as gun control, climate and immigration. As mayor, Briley launched several progressive initiatives in his short time in office.  These include a college scholarship program for public school graduates, a $500 million investment in affordable housing over a decade and efforts to increase chances for businesses run by minorities, women or LGBTQ+ individuals to receive city contracts.

Cooper argued that the role of mayor is more like that of a CEO, carefully overseeing the projects occurring throughout the city and very specifically allocating funds for priorities such as affordable housing, education and infrastructure.  Cooper, who received his MBA from Vandy, has a background in real-estate and finance which he hopes to employ as mayor in this rapidly urbanizing city. Cooper plans to invest in growing neighborhoods creating more affordable housing and better education.  This is a much more effective way of looking at the role of mayor. Cooper’s vision for improving the business sect of the city as well as focusing on projects to enhance affordable housing have the potential for large-scale benefits for Nashville. This strategy is very important given the level of rising infrastructure as the city grows and as housing becomes less affordable, making him the better choice from a Vanderbilt perspective.

Practically speaking, Vandy students live and interact regularly with the city of Nashville. As cities grow, crime becomes more frequent, housing becomes less affordable, traffic becomes more prevalent and the cost of living rises.  These are issues Vandy students and faculty must deal with. Many students live off campus, have jobs or internships in the city, and spend their free time exploring the food and music scene. As the population grows, travelling across town could become more difficult, pollution could increase, and housing could become less affordable.  Having a practical business leader like Cooper may be the answer to the increasing problems associated with urban growth.

Realistically, while many Vandy students love Nashville and even opt to stay after graduation, most students are not aware of the city’s policies and mayoral initiatives.  While much of what they do goes unnoticed, we see the construction happening in the city everyday. We feel the rising costs of meals and transportation. We chose Nashville for the amazing city that it is, and hopefully the newly elected mayor can protect and better what we came here to experience.