Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard’s newly launched personal website describes himself as a pastor, speaker, consultant — and a first-time author.
Maynard, the city’s lone African-American at-large councilman, is eyeing an Oct. 18 release of his first book titled How to Lead When No One Follows, which according to the second-term officeholder, discusses the apathy of black voters in local elections.
An excerpt posted on his website:
“Many constituents have tuned us out, and I believe their apathy is justified in many instances. People come to realize that we only show up when we have a ribbon-cutting ceremony or a parade, or we have been asked to share in someone's public recognition. If there is a news camera or a reporter there, then our presence can be expected. At least, that is the impression I believe we are giving to the public.”
Maynard said that despite the progress of African-Americans following the Civil Rights Era, the black community has not made strides in its unemployment rate, high school dropout rate, health care disparity and prison incarceration over the past 25 years.
He said one of the reasons for the setbacks is a lack of engagement in local politics. “We don’t vote in large numbers in local races,” Maynard said, pointing out that some 60 percent of Metro public school students are minority yet black voters’ participation in school board races can sometimes linger around 10 percent.
“There’s this disconnect,” Maynard said. “So those who are driving policy and direction of resources at the school board level, you don’t have the participation from the voters and their engagement.”
Maynard said he interviewed voters in preparation of his book, and observed excitement from African-American voters for presidential races but the opposite for local races. “We have a significant, substantial drop off,” he said.
“What I concluded is people are voting by not voting,” Maynard said. “They’re sending a message to local elected officials — that electing you does not change or improve my quality of life.”
In presidential politics, a book authorship often precedes a run for the Oval Office. Asked about whether his book might set the stage for a 2015 mayoral run in Nashville Maynard didn’t rule out the possibility. “I haven’t really made a determination yet.”
He insisted, however, that political ambition isn’t the impetus.
“I started writing this book a year and a half ago after the 2007 [Metro general] election when I saw so much apathy and cynicism in voters,” said Maynard, whose name is commonly mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate. “That’s when I said, ‘OK, I’ve got to write a book about this.’ ”