Mike Jameson, the second-term District 6 Metro Councilman says he is now sprinting “to the finish line” of his own political career.
Jameson has told The City Paper that come 2011, he will be finished with politics and will give his time to his family and his law practice.
The councilman, whose ‘dream job’ was to be a judge like his grandfather, who maintains solid popularity in Nashville’s most civically engaged district and who possesses as much political sway as anyone on Council, says he’s ready to sail off into the East Nashville sunset — though not so quietly.
“I’m going to sprint to the finish line,” he said. “I’m going to try to make the last two years productive and look back on this period with pride.”
Jameson’s retirement from politics bears mentioning, because his critics believe his outspoken criticisms of Mayor Karl Dean have come across as grandstanding. Jameson claims he’s even had to tell political insiders, to their utter skepticism, that he is not going to run for mayor in two years.
The fact he’s taken on the role of Dean’s No. 1 antagonist comes as a surprise to Jameson himself, since not long after the 2007 inauguration, he was quoted as calling the new administration a “breath of fresh air.”
Jameson’s track record of coming to loggerheads with Dean began last year when he accused the Dean administration (although not Dean himself) of attempting to fire Metro Planning Department staffer David Kleinfelter.
Cemented in the Dean doghouse, Jameson mostly stayed quiet until March, when he claims he got wind of the administration’s intentions to alter the long-planned redevelopment of the Nashville riverfront. The first phase of redevelopment, approved during the Mayor Bill Purcell administration and with significant public input, called for an adventure water park on the river, but Jameson publicly declared that Dean was ready to scrap everything and begin redevelopment by focusing on the downtown side of the river — the side closer to the proposed new convention center, Jameson pointed out.
After a public meeting with media on hand and cameras rolling, Jameson pursuaded Dean to include the adventure water park in his first capital spending plan.
In between the March public meeting and August, Jameson was sufficiently on the outs with the Dean administration, but then came the fiasco surrounding Music City Center invoices turned in by PR firm McNeely, Pigott & Fox. Suddenly, there was Jameson calling for an independent audit and public answers to questions about the invoices.
Dean supporters have speculated on Jameson’s desire for a higher office, perhaps a run for a circuit court judgeship, and dislike his flair for the dramatic. However, his decision to call it quits in two years may quash such speculation.
“I like the idea of serving eight years, giving everything you’ve got, and then stepping aside so some new blood can come in,” Jameson said. “It would be audacious of me, living in this district, to say, ‘I’m the best there is, there’s nobody better than me.’”
As for East Nashville residents who gave their Councilman high-fives a few weeks ago before he ran in the Tomato Art Festival run, they can rest assured he isn’t going to turn sheepish his last two years in office.
“I never thought about this office ever until a year before running for it,” Jameson said. “and it has opened the door to a brand new realm you can actually do some good occasionally, and expand your horizons and better your neighborhood. But it’s amazing how few people ever believe anybody when they say, ‘I’m not going to do it any more.’ I ain’t running for anything. I just want to do a good job with the time I have.”