At-large Metro Council Member Erica Gilmore took the gloves off Friday and blasted Acting Mayor David Briley’s Metro Nashville budget proposal for 2019.
Gilmore, who is among the top tier of candidates challenging Briley in the May 24 special election in which voters will select a permanent mayor to serve out the one year and three months in the term of disgraced former Mayor Megan Barry, said Briley has proposed a “Promises Made, Promises Broken Budget” to the residents of Nashville/Davidson County.
“The budget proposed by Acting Mayor Briley is a Promises Made, Promises Broken Budget. Nashvillians have been told we need ‘continuity’ in this month’s election. But this budget reflects continuity for some, and broken promises for everyone else,” Gilmore said in a statement released by her campaign on Friday.
“This morning, Acting Mayor Briley insisted ‘most citizens will not notice any difference at all.’ I could not disagree more,” Gilmore continued.
“Our employees nearing retirement will notice,” the At-large Council Member said.
“Young workers trying to save to buy their first home will notice,” she added.
“Parents trying to put their kids through college will notice,” Gimore noted.
“And our Metro Public School students and teachers–who will not receive their fully funded request–will notice, and suffer as a result,” she pointed out.
Gilmore was not done with her blistering critique of Briley’s budget proposal. She went on to say:
Acting Mayor Briley also promised, ‘sacrifice in this city leads to success.’ But I’m afraid this ignores that the dedicated women and men who make Metro government run have sacrificed for years–amid rising cost of living–yet see no success in the promise made to honor their pay increases.
It is a shame if we chose not to invest in our citizens, and keep our promises to our employees. Therefore, I cannot support the budget proposed by the Acting Mayor. The 3-Year Employee Pay Plan enacted by the Council last year — and which I proudly voted for — was a promise made. It’s a promise that, as a mayor, I will keep.
We should not balance the budget on the backs of our school children, bus drivers, and women and men who wear the uniform. The fact city revenues are down is no fault of the dedicated civil servants who keep our lights on, pave our roads, teach our children, and keep our city safe and running. Therefore, ordinary, hard-working folks–bus drivers, nurses, electricians, and more–should not be asked to shoulder the burden of this revenue shortfall.
“We’ve turned our back on the working and middle class of this city for far too long. That ends when I’m mayor,” Gilmore concluded.
Gilmore made waves last month when she flipped from supporting the $9 billion transit plan to opposing it shortly after announcing her candidacy for mayor, as The Tennessee Star reported on April 9:
Mayoral candidate Erica Gilmore, who currently serves as one of the five At-Large Metro Nashville Council members, has pulled her support from the $9 billion transit plan proposal, “Let’s Move Nashville.”
The announcement of her major policy shift first appeared as a series of tweets early Monday morning:
“I love Nashville. We are the greatest city in the world. This is the place where I was born and raised. This is the place we’re I’ve made my home, raised my daughter. As I said last week, as great as our city is, we face a housing crisis, crumbling infrastructure,” she wrote.
She continued, “I am pro-transit. Have always been pro-transit. I will always be pro-transit. But I can no longer support this current plan…”
“…as hopeful as I’ve been in the past that we could make this imperfect plan work, I concluded salvaging the current plan is unworkable. And on May 1 will be casting my vote against it,” Gilmore added
Gilmore was one of the large majority of Metro Council Members who voted in February to add the $9 billion transit plan to the ballot on May 1, and at the time was a strong supporter of the plan.
When she announced her candidacy for mayor in March, she reiterated that support.
Despite her embarrassing reversal on the transit plan, Gilmore was placed in the first tier of mayoral candidates, along with Acting Mayor Briley, former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, and State Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) in a mayoral forum hosted last week by WSMV and The Tennessean.
Two polls conducted in April placed Briley in the front runner status, with former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain coming in a distant second.
A Tennessee Star Poll conducted between April 12 and April 13 showed Briley in first place with 43 percent support, and Swain in a distant second, with 9 percent support.
A Harpeth Strategies exit poll of early voters in the May 1 transit plan referendum conducted between April 11 and April 24 showed Briley in first place with 51 percent of the vote and Swain in second with 9 percent support.
If any candidate wins 50 percent or more of the vote on May 24, they will become the new mayor. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff election on June 28.
Both The Tennessee Star Poll and the Harpeth Strategies exit poll got the outcome of the May 1 transit referendum right.
The final vote in the May 1 referendum was 64 percent opposed, 36 percent in support, a huge 28 point loss for the supporters of the transit plan.
The Tennessee Star Poll, released on April 16, showed 62 percent opposed, 27 percent in support, a 35 point differential favoring opponents.
The Harpeth Strategies exit poll, released just a few days before the May 1 vote, showed 60 percent opposed, 38 percent in support, a 22 point differential favoring opponents.
Dave Rosenberg, who owns Harpeth Strategies and also serves on the Metro Council, tweeted the results of the early voting exit polls on April 30, the day before the transit plan referendum:
Transit and Mayor’s Race (among early voters):
Transit referendum is down significantly. Notably, among voters who took a Democratic ballot, it’s basically 50-50.
— Dave Rosenberg (@DaveRosenbergTN) April 30, 2018
Both The Tennessee Star Poll and the Harpeth Strategies exit poll, however, were conducted before the crushing 2 to 1 defeat Nashville/Davidson County voters delivered to the $9 billion transit plan Briley supported and before the $7 million federal funding scandal that has engulfed the Briley administration, along with the previous administrations of Megan Barry and Karl Dean.
In light of that scandal, mayoral candidate Carol Swain has called on Metro Nashville COO Rich Riebeling to resign.
“The Councilwoman does not have a comment on this,” the Gilmore campaign told The Star when asked to comment on Swain’s call for Riebeling’s resignation.