In a race that never was much of a contest, Mayor Karl Dean rolled to a second term, emerging victorious over three no-name candidates by collecting about 80 percent of the vote.
“Let’s get back to work,” Dean told a celebratory crowd of a few hundred gathered at the Adventure Science Center, the site of his election party. “I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
As of 9:10 p.m., Dean had 36,048 votes of 45,164 cast. James Keeton accumulated 4,614; Marvin Barnes, 2,881; and Bruce Casper; 1,201.
Dean’s re-election catapults him to another four years as the city’s chief executive, though it’s still unclear what major projects he intends to pursue. Dean has talked openly about expanding the city’s mass transit options, but has yet to identify a funding source.
His administration has also commissioned a study to analyze potential sites for a new downtown Nashville Sounds stadium. In addition, music industry leaders have approached Dean about building a new amphitheatre on the 11-acre former thermal plate site. Nonetheless, Dean has said these projects are not necessities.
Addressing the crowd, Dean stuck to the basics, saying he wants Nashville to be the “healthiest city it can be.”
“When I say healthy, I mean we need to be a city that No. 1 has a healthy, strong education system,” Dean said. “When I say healthy, I mean we need to remain a city that is safe ... And we need to be a city that is economically healthy.”
That message — education, public safety and economic development — formed the framework of his initial campaign four years ago, and ultimately allowed him to coast to his second victory this summer.
But on the same night as Dean’s triumph, preservationists of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds — property Dean unsuccessfully tried to redevelop — scored a win themselves. Davidson County voters approved a charter amendment to keep the status quo at the fairgrounds by a 69-31 percent margin. To demolish the property’s facilities and pursue redevelopment, 27 council votes would be required.
“That was expected,” Dean said. “I think all that means is that if something is going to be done there, it takes 27 votes. I think from the experience we all went through earlier this year, that sort of consensus would be necessary.
“I have absolutely no plans for the fairgrounds right now,” he said. “The council said it wants to do long-range planning. We’ll just see what happens.”