Nashville, Tennessee — Monday was Mayor John Cooper’s first day at work after swearing in during the weekend’s ceremony. His first day at the Metro Courthouse was a busy one, with the mayor having an extensive to-do list.
His first task was a meet & greet with the press. There were many photographers and reporters gathered in the press room, eagerly waiting to hear what the new mayor had in store. He opened his statement by saying what his first several orders of business were. For instance, during the conference, Cooper shared with the media some of the names who would be his first appointments.
Namely, Brenda Haywood, a former Council Member and a part of Cooper’s campaign, will be in the office of deputy mayor for community engagement. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s deputy COO, Kristin Wilson, will also join Cooper’s team to become chief of operations and performance. The media were interested the most in finding out who the finance director would be, and Cooper revealed that position would go to Kevin Crumbo, a local consultant.
Other appointments include Paulette Coleman as a member of the housing agency board. Coleman is the leader with Nashville Organized for Action and Hope.
Crumbo’s hiring raised some eyebrows, as the local businessman was reported to have secretly advised former Mayor Megan Barry on her plan to put an end to inpatient service at NGH. However, Barry’s plan didn’t go down as she had hoped. Nonetheless, Cooper still opted for Crumbo, highlighting his work at KraftCPAs. Talking about the appointment, Cooper said that he promised the citizens of Nashville to bring an influx of private-sector experience to the government. According to Cooper, Crumbo fits the bill perfectly.
When talking about Wilson, Cooper praised her former boss’ work in Atlanta (rather unnecessarily, he snuck in Reed’s African-American descent into the praise). Despite Cooper’s kind words, Reed’s tenure — with Wilson by his side — was smeared by a bribery scandal regarding procurement. The scandal meant that many city officials ended up in jail. Nevertheless, Cooper praised Wilson for “having a steady hand,” and the new mayor saw her as someone who would work hard to assure that the government was efficient and performing to the highest of its abilities.
According to the mayor, he appointed Coleman because the MDHA board needed someone knowledgeable to advocate the government’s plans for affordable housing. Cooper’s priorities are to make Nashville affordable and convenient for everyone regarding a variety of spheres, such as safe neighborhoods and fiscal responsibilities. Cooper’s goal, in his own words, is for his government to regain trust with people, and Coleman was an important part of that.
Busy Week Ahead
When the conference was over, the mayor had a meeting with Adrienne Battle, Metro Schools Superintendent for the time being. He also announced that he would have a prolonged meeting with the Finance Department by the end of the day, while he would attend a meeting with the state comptroller later in the week. Allegedly, Bob Mendes will join him at that meeting; Mendes is the new Council Budget and Finance Committee chair.
Cooper was adamant that he would make a great team with Crumbo and Mendes, despite previous disagreements with him over the rates of property tax.
The mayor is in for a busy week, and he penciled in several sit-downs with many Metro department heads, as well as organizing a reception for Councilmembers before their first official meeting on Tuesday. Cooper will also have a school visit and another meeting with Jon Cooper, the legal director. There’s no relation between the two, and Jon is currently serving as interim, waiting for his successor to be announced.
The two Coopers will discuss the possibility of building a Major League Soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds. When pressed on the topic of the soccer stadium, Cooper said he couldn’t say whether he would go on with the building plan or whether he would put a stop to it.
Potential Sale Unclear
Similarly, he evaded giving a straightforward answer to the potential sale of the downtown energy system. Cooper said that he needed to spend more time deliberating, and he would get advice from his colleagues in order to make sure he made a decision that would be favorable for the city. He did point out that he was perplexed by the nature of the sale, intended to be a single-source one, despite there being five bidders.
However, Cooper’s immediate priority is education, saying that he would have a meeting about it with Battle.