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Tennessee Mayor: A Lesson In Accountability

by Samuel Abels

Politics: for some people, this is a word that is as filthy as any verbalization uttered forth at a convention of hardened sailors. From Bill Clinton, to former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, to disgraced Illinois Senator Rod Blagojevich, there have been a number of stories throughout America’s political history that have defined the way the people view the concept of the “game” that is earning both your trust, as well as your vote. Such is the case with Megan Barry, the now ousted mayor of Nashville, who has found herself caught up in a web of felony theft and infidelity.

As of Tuesday, March 6, the Democratic mayor of the home of country music, resigned amidst stories of an affair with a bodyguard and the misappropriation of thousands of dollars in city funds. The affair itself, held with Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Sergeant Robert Forrest Jr., began as early as the middle of 2016, merely a year after her election to the mayoral position. Barry claims the affair came to an end prior to the public admission of her actions. Forrest has since resigned from the department.

“It has been my honor, and the privilege, of my professional life to have the blessing, and the opportunity, to be your mayor,” Barry said in a press conference.

The former mayor also released a statement in conjunction with the revelation of her extramarital affair, on Jan. 31. “Today, I acknowledge publicly that I have engaged in an extramarital affair with the former head of my security detail. I accept full responsibility for the pain I caused my family and his. I am so sorry to my husband Bruce, who stood by me in my darkest moments and stays committed to our marriage, just as I am committed to repairing the damage I’ve done.”

She has since pled guilty to theft of property over $10,000, and agreed to reimburse the city of Nashville with $11,000, as well as serve out three years of probation for her actions.

Her successor, Vice Mayor David Briley, has become the city’s acting mayor. Briley, age 54, functioned as a member of the Metropolitan City council from 1999 until 2007.

This should serve as a lesson for those who have power, as well as those who wish to attain it. The lesson: don’t abuse the powers which have been granted to you by the electorate, by the people you ultimately shall govern in whatever capacity it might be. When you are elected to a public office, I as a voter expect you to have a higher moral standard than myself or others, to serve as an example to those beneath you, to the common folk and to inspire to move towards the greater good. The minute you tarnish that, you not only tarnish my once pristine view of your abilities and power, but in the end, you tarnish everyone’s.

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