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Nashville Elects First Woman Mayor

Megan Barry was declared the winner yesterday in Nashville mayor’s race. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Nashville has a new mayor, and she represents a couple of firsts for Music City. Megan Barry is the first woman and the first Metro Council member to be elected to the city’s highest office. According to the Tennessean, she “comfortably” beat opponent David Fox in yesterday’s mayoral runoff.

Fox had a more conservative approach for addressing Nashville’s unprecedented growth. As Margaret Littman reported in a Next City feature last year:

Between 2012 and 2013, Nashville’s population grew by 2 percent, an impressive rate of growth bested by only six other big cities in the country. In 2012, the city ranked first in the nation among large metro regions for fastest job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nashville has added jobs faster than the nation in every year since 1990.

But Nashville voters favored Barry’s progressive approach, which mirrored that of outgoing mayor, Karl Dean. In fact, as the Tennessean reports:

At times over the past few weeks, Barry’s campaign felt like a bid for a third term of Dean as the candidate routinely referred to “Karl and I” as she discussed the actions of the city over the past eight years. Though Dean himself did not endorse in the race, several Dean allies, including his finance director, Rich Riebeling, publicly supported Barry.

After the election, Dean noted his support for Barry: “This is a great city and a great job, and Megan is more than capable of leading Nashville to its next plateau. I always say that Nashville’s best days are still ahead of it, and I have no doubts about that.”

Barry certainly has her work cut out for her, as Littman reported in another Next City piece titled “6 Big To-Do’s for Nashville’s Next Mayor.”

One of the things on Barry’s plate will be to address transportation in the wake of Dean’s failed bus rapid transit plan. (In the spring, Nashville civic and business leaders visited Salt Lake City and found inspiration in that city’s light-rail system.) A lack of affordable housing is also a problem.

In her acceptance speech, Barry addressed working families.

“This is really a story about our working families, and those families are the backbone of our economy who need access to transportation, excellent public education and affordable places to live,” Barry said. “Our working families need a mayor who is going to create prosperity for everyone.”