May 15, 2024 - Politics

Mayor O'Connell assesses the state of Metro

Freddie O'Connell speaking in front of a bus.

Mayor Freddie O'Connell during his speech. Photo: Maddie Rambowski/courtesy of the mayor's office

Mayor Freddie O'Connell didn't use his first State of Metro address to make any splashy announcements.

Why it matters: Rather than breaking big news during the Tuesday speech, O'Connell's team zoomed in on investments in bread-and-butter city services during his first months in office, like filling potholes and answering 911 calls.

What he's saying: "We know that local government isn't the only part of your life," O'Connell said toward the beginning of his 25-minute speech.

  • "But I also know that when it is part of your life, we have to be operating at our best."

Between the lines: In many ways, the speech felt like an extension of the back-to-basics message that powered his mayoral campaign.

  • After his remarks, Vice Mayor Angie Henderson praised O'Connell's blend of "pragmatism and ... optimism."

Driving the news: He delivered the speech in front of a purple WeGo bus, putting public transit front of mind.

  • He said his transportation plan, which is expected to appear on the ballot in November, would improve bus service, add miles of sidewalks and streamline traffic signals.

The latest: O'Connell said the transportation plan had successfully cleared an audit that is required before it can appear on the ballot.

  • The Metro Council and Davidson County Election Commission will need to approve the ballot language.

The big picture: Nostalgia was a prominent theme of O'Connell's speech, which took place at the fairgrounds. He said he remembered going there as a child to play at an amusement park that no longer exists.

  • Although the fairgrounds' future has been the subject of intense debate for years, O'Connell didn't announce any new plans.
  • But, he said, the continued interest in the area represented Nashville's potential despite its growing pains.

"We have a great opportunity to reach for the future instead of only lamenting the past," he said.

  • "We have a great opportunity to preserve so much of what we love about Nashville and make it better."
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