Mayor Bill Purcell

  • Fall 2007

Mayor Bill Purcell served as the fifth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, elected first in 1999 and reelected to a second term in 2003 with a record setting 84.8 percent of the vote. Purcell served until August 2007. As mayor his priorities were good schools in every neighborhood, safe neighborhoods in every part of the city and a quality of life shared by all Nashvillians.

During Purcell's tenure, Nashville saw unprecedented economic expansion, earning back-to-back designations as "the hottest city in America" for corporate relocation or expansion by Expansion Management magazine. In 2006 Purcell earned GOVERNING magazine's "Public Official of the Year" honor as a mayor "who simultaneously improved his city's quality of life and spurred business expansion with an ambitious agenda that included strengthened public schools and revitalized neighborhoods." Purcell became the first Nashville mayor to receive the honor in the magazine's 13 years of presenting the Public Official of the Year awards to the nation's top state and local government leaders.

Purcell's efforts on behalf of schools drew national attention as a model for mayors across the country. The Mayor's "First Day Festival" kicks off the opening of each school year and brings the attention of the whole city and region to the importance of education. Under his administration school funding rose from $397 million to $563 million-a 42% increase over seven years.

Purcell also provided increased funding for public safety and pursued an aggressive strategy to put more police officers on the streets with more than a dozen police classes recruited since January 2000. Purcell's attention to Nashville's safety and quality of life ranges from the arts to the parks and from the Symphony to the Opry. He received the "Public Leadership in the Arts Award" from "Americans for the Arts" in 2005 for his work as the 'keeper' of one of America's greatest and most prominent art forms, music," and as "the visionary that has enabled the creation of the Music City brand, which is now being embraced in Nashville and beyond."

As mayor, Purcell focused on improving the city's infrastructure and amenities. Purcell's first act as mayor was the creation of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods. Throughout his administration he worked tirelessly to help neighborhoods work with the government to improve services. His monthly Mayor's Nights Out event brought the city government including police and fire chiefs and department directors into the neighborhoods to respond to concerns.

Purcell also created an Office of Affordable Housing to spur the development of more than 26,000 affordable housing units since 1999. He focused on increasing the availability of downtown residential units and preserving housing stock in the city's historic neighborhoods.

Prior to being elected mayor, Purcell served as director of the Child and Family Policy Center at the Vanderbilt Institute of Public Policy Studies, a nationally recognized center building a bridge between academic research, politics and best practices to benefit children and their families.

Purcell served five terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives beginning in 1986. A former House Majority Leader and Chair of the Select Committee on Children and Youth, Purcell's work in the legislature positioned him in the forefront of education, health care, workers compensation and criminal sentencing reforms.