by Moxye Staff
Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore on Wednesday entered this year’s race for Nashville mayor, declaring, “I’m seasoned, I’m experienced,” and becoming the first formidable candidate to announce a challenge against Mayor David Briley.
Gilmore, raised in Nashville, attended Howard University. She currently works as assistant dean of student conduct at Tennessee State University after prior stops at Fisk University and the University of Phoenix as a teacher. She lives with her 17-year-old daughter Anyah Gilmore-Jones.
“I have a track record of getting results,” said Gilmore, who served two terms as the District 19 council member prior to being elected to a countywide at-large seat in 2015. “I know I have the right message that will appeal to voters from all walks of life, in every zip code of our great city.
Earlier this month, the powerful Nashville Business Coalition endorsed Mayor David Briley and urged would-be candidates to sit out the special election for the sake of stability. Gilmore alluded to those concerns in her statement.
“What we need more than continuity is a mayor with a strong mandate from the voters,” Gilmore said. “We have runaway economic inequality in Nashville right now. We’ve successfully built a thriving and prosperous ‘New Nashville.’ But far too many hard-working families aren’t sharing in the fruits of our city’s success.”
The special election to fill the remainder of Megan Barry’s term is currently set for Aug. 2. However, the state Supreme Court next month will hear an expedited appeal that argues the election should be held in May.
Barry resigned from office earlier this month amid an investigation of an affair with her head of security. In addition to this year’s special election, voters will return to the polls in August 2019 to elect a mayor to serve a full term.
Historically, sitting Nashville mayors have faced only nominal, if any, opposition in elections. But Briley is in the unusual position of having not been elected for the job.
Nevertheless, Gilmore — the daughter of Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, who is running for state Senate in August — will be considered an underdog against Briley, a liberal who has quickly picked up backing from prominent members of the business community.
Gilmore’s support is strongest among African-American voters, but she will need to expand her base to win a head-to-head mayoral election. She could be challenged in fundraising against Briley, who has been aggressive early on in amassing his campaign war chest.
Gilmore said she’s “100 percent certain” she will have enough money to compete, pointing to her support during her time on the council and predicting she will need to raise between $300,000 and $1 million.
Discussing why she thinks she can win, Gilmore singled out her strong performance in her 2015 council election, where she received the most votes of any at-large member during the first-round general election. She finished second behind Cooper in the runoff election that took place the next month.
“My whole life, I’ve been a builder of bridges, bringing people together across differences in politics, background, class, and geography,” Gilmore said. “I’m eager to bring these leadership skills of collaboration, partnership, and coalition-building to the mayor’s office.”
Gilmore had shown signs of running for mayor for weeks, including appointing Lee Molette as treasurer for a mayoral campaign the day after Barry’s resignation.