Karl Dean, Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County
When and where are you happiest?
Being at home with my family just talking, having dinner.
What characteristic do you most like about yourself?
I like to laugh.
And what do you like least?
I reproach myself any time that I am unkind whether intentionally or unintentionally.
What characteristic do you think other people most like about you?
I think people find me to be easy-going, easy to work with.
What was the last great book you read where you couldn’t put it down?
I could re-read Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield or Great Expectations anytime.
Who would you most like to meet?
I’d probably like to meet Neil Young.
What person do you most admire as someone who has done a lot of good for the world?
Judge J. Randall Wyatt, who is a judge of Division II Davidson County Criminal Courts, treats everybody with respect; he is unfailingly polite, kind, just a true gentleman. He’s somebody I look at with admiration.
Justice Al Birch is a former Supreme Court Judge, former Court of Appeals Judge, former Criminal Court Judge, who was a trailblazer in terms of being the first African American to hold many of these positions. He has been somebody who I can turn to for support and guidance. Very dignified and treats everyone with respect.
What are you most proud of in your life, other than your family?
I’m proud to be mayor; it’s a tremendous honor.
What would you be doing if you weren’t the mayor?
I loved being a trial lawyer; it is interesting. I like the preparation for trials and especially enjoyed the trials themselves.
How did you land in Nashville?
My wife, Anne. I came here to go to law school in 1978 and met my wife, Anne, in law school. Anne is a Nashville native. I have been here around thirty years. It is a great city.
What do you like most about Nashville?
I really like the fact that it’s friendly. When people ask you how you are doing, they actually want to know. The quality of life is high because of the great people here, and that is something to treasure.
What do you like least about it?
A 98-degree day in August with 90 percent humidity.
If you could wave a wand and change one thing about Nashville, what would you change?
We would have the best public schools in America. We’d be the most reform-oriented school district with the best schools.
What would surprise people to know about you?
I have a pretty good store of movie trivia pre-1990. I love On the Waterfront; that’s my absolute favorite. Followed by The Man with Two Brains.
What is your most treasured possession?
My books. If I find an author I like, I read everything by him or her.
What are some other achievements you’re extremely proud of?
Getting started on the new convention center. The city needs it.
What are you looking forward to?
Are you happy with where Nashville is heading?
Yes. Two moments that filled me with pride for Nashville and its citizens:
1. the defeat of English Only, and
2. the response to the flood with thousands of volunteers, Nashvillians helping Nashvillians.
What part of your everyday existence behind the mayor’s desk gives you the most satisfaction?
I’d say bringing Teach for America to Nashville and working on education issues. I recently welcomed the second class of students from Teach for America. That’s a pretty good feeling. And although it hasn’t received much attention, I believe the charter school incubator that we’ve launched is going to have a huge impact on our public school system in the years ahead.
What do you do when you’re not being the mayor?
My wife, Anne, and kids keep me grounded. I exercise and read.
Karl Dean is the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. He was elected on September 11, 2007. Dean’s priorities as mayor are education, public safety, and economic development. He also works diligently on efforts to sustain and improve Nashville’s high quality of life. During his nearly three years in office, Dean has acted as a strong advocate for improving Nashville’s public schools. In all three years, he fully funded the schools budget. And he has led initiatives related to reducing dropouts, improving teacher recruitment, and increasing school choice. In the area of public safety, Dean has worked to see more police officers protecting Nashville’s streets. While he has been in office, the police department has recruited and trained over 260 new sworn police officers. As part of his economic development efforts, Dean has been a strong advocate for the development of a new downtown convention center to help grow Nashville’s tourism industry. Dean first held public office when he was elected as Nashville’s public defender in 1990, a post he was reelected to in 1994 and 1998. Dean served as metro law director from 1999 to January 2007, when he resigned to run for the office of mayor