Mayor Karl Dean’s re-election campaign picked up endorsements from Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall and nine other elected Metro officials Friday, an indication of the establishment support the mayor enjoys in his pursuit for a second term.
Announced before Dean turned in required candidate-petition signatures at the Davidson County Election Commission, other endorsements include County Clerk John Arriola, Trustee Charlie Cardwell, Public Defender Dawn Deaner and District Attorney Torry Johnson.
Election Day is Aug. 4. Councilman Michael Craddock remains Dean’s only credible challenger.
Hall’s endorsement is arguably the most noteworthy, as some had speculated months ago the sheriff could arise as an opponent to Dean. Hall is still considered a political force who could emerge as candidate for mayor in 2015.
“As sheriff, I can tell you Mayor Karl Dean gets it,” Hall said. “He understands there’s a time in Nashville when we need to get tough on crime. But he also understands that as a leader, he must have the compassion to deal with issues that plague our criminal justice system, such as mental illness and addictions.”
Hall is widely recognized for his implementation of the controversial federal 287(g) program, which allows local governments to screen arrested individuals as a way to detect illegal immigrants before beginning potential deportation proceedings.
Pressed for his thoughts on 287(g), Dean said, “On 287(g), I have always taken the position that it’s important as a city that we follow the law and enforce the law, and Daron does that.
“It’s a federal law,” Dean said when asked whether he supports 287(g). “And I support following the law. Going back to my experience in the criminal justice system, I think fundamentally when somebody is detained or arrested, it is important that the criminal justice system know who they’re dealing with. And a person’s background then becomes an issue. That’s just a part of it.”
Rounding out Dean’s endorsements are Register of Deeds Bill Garrett, Assessor of Property George Rooker Jr., Circuit Court Clerk Richard Rooker, Juvenile Court Clerk David Smith and Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence.
On Friday, Dean also said he signed into law Metro’s non-discrimination ordinance that requires the city’s contractors to provide employment protections for gay, lesbian and transgender workers. He said he was accompanied by businessman Mike Curb, former Republican lieutenant governor of California, as he signed the bill.
Dean said he opposes state Republicans’ efforts to nullify Metro’s action through a bill sponsored by Williamson County state Rep. Glen Casada.
“Democratically elected local governments, I think, do best in representing their citizens,” Dean said. “We have a long tradition in this country and in this state of honoring the decisions made by local governments. I think we should follow that policy here.”
Dean also fielded questions on Rep. Jim Gotto’s attempt to move Metro’s elections to coincide with presidential elections by 2016 through state legislation. If approved, Dean would have to serve a five-year, three-month term if he’s re-elected.
“I’m running for the office whether it’s for four years or five years,” Dean said. “I’d be happy to do either. Going into this, I understood it to be four years, but if it’s five years, that’s OK.
“I’m going to leave that to the legislature and to the council to sort out,” he said of the possible election change.