In presidential politics, authoring a book is often a prelude to a run at the Oval Office. But when a Metro councilman does the same, is that a sign a future mayoral run is in store?
At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard, who observers had already placed on an ever-changing list of a dozen others believed to be considering a campaign in 2015, might have raised speculation further last week with the announcement that his first book, “How to Lead When No One Follows,” would be available for purchase on Oct. 18.
Maynard’s book plans come with the creation of a new personal website that describes himself as a speaker, pastor, consultant — and now, an author.
Maynard, the city’s lone African-American at-large councilman, talked to The City Paper to discuss a book he says explores the apathy of blacks in local politics. Oh, and that possible mayoral run? He wouldn’t rule it out.
Tell us about the book. Why did you decide to write it?
If you think back 60 years — with Jim Crow laws, racism and segregation — we’ve come a long way. However, when you look at four areas in the African-American community, we’re worse off now than we were 25 years ago, even with all the great progress we’ve made. If you look at the unemployment rate, the high school dropout rate, health care disparity and prison incarceration, in those areas we have not made strides and improvement over the last 25 years.
One of the reasons is that our community, when it comes to local elections ... African-Americans across the nation, not just in Nashville, we don’t vote in large numbers in local races. I’ll give you a great example. In Nashville public schools, over 60 percent of the student population are people of color. And yet when you look at voter participation of African-Americans in the local school board races, sometimes less than 10 percent of registered African-Americans vote in a school board race.
In the book, I interview voters: Why are voters apathetic and cynical when it comes to local races? When it comes to the presidential race, our community gets excited. We come out and vote at the same level or even greater than the majority population. But when it comes to local races, non-presidential races, we have a substantial dropoff.
What I conclude is people are voting by not voting. They’re sending a message to local elected officials that electing you does not change or improve my quality of life.
A lot of times a politician will write a book, and then they will run for higher office. Your name has been thrown around for the 2015 mayor’s race. Are you interested in running?
The book has nothing to do with any ambition. I started writing this book a year—and-a half ago after the 2007 election when I saw so much apathy and cynicism among voters. That’s when I said, ‘OK, I’ve got to write a book about this.’ Because enough is enough.
OK. But do you plan on running for mayor in 2015?
My aspiration is to create economic development throughout all of Davidson County. ... It is to get rid of the health care disparities among people of color, and to deal with [creating] an education system that will allow every kid and student to live the American Dream. If I can do that as a pastor, so be it. If I can do it as a higher office, so be it. I haven’t really made a determination yet.