Apr 20, 2022 - Politics

Scoop: Matt Wiltshire moves toward possible mayoral bid

Photo courtesy of Matt Wiltshire

Photo: courtesy of Matt Wiltshire

Matt Wiltshire is leaving his position at the Metro Development and Housing Agency to begin the process of running for mayor of Nashville.

  • Wiltshire previously served as the city's top economic development official. At MDHA, he's worked on affordable housing initiatives.

Why it matters: If he pulls the trigger on a mayoral bid, Wiltshire would represent a legitimate challenger to incumbent Mayor John Cooper in next year's election.

  • All indications are that Cooper is readying a reelection bid, but he hasn't formally announced a decision.

Be smart: Wiltshire, 48, is a Nashville native and Hume-Fogg High School graduate. After graduating from Dartmouth, he pursued a career in investment banking.

  • Mayor Karl Dean hired Wiltshire as director of economic development in 2011, a role he held under three administrations.

Between the lines: Wiltshire's job was to help recruit corporations to relocate or expand in Nashville while partnering with the state on economic incentive packages to make those deals happen.

  • Corporate relocations of Amazon, AllianceBernstein and Bridgestone's downtown expansion were among the deals Wiltshire oversaw.

Yes, but: Wiltshire's career took a turn when then-Mayor David Briley announced an ambitious affordable housing plan, and asked him to oversee the initiative at MDHA.

What he's saying: Wiltshire tells Axios he is leaving MDHA on good terms.

  • "The next step is to go out and talk to folks from across Nashville to hear what their thoughts are. I don't want to pre-judge what those conversations might reveal [about whether I should run]."
  • "I believe I have the experience and perspective and vision that the city needs at this point in its history," Wiltshire says.

State of play: Wiltshire is the second serious candidate to publicly announce they are kicking the tires on a mayoral bid. Earlier this year, nonprofit executive Hal Cato told Axios he's thinking about running.

  • Incumbent mayors have historically fared very well in their reelection attempts.
  • Cooper is the only mayoral candidate in Metro government history to unseat an incumbent when he beat Briley, who was elevated to the position following the resignation of then-Mayor Megan Barry.

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