Eleven years ago, David Briley finished a disappointing fifth place in the 2007 Nashville mayor's race, barely mustering 10 percent of the vote and last among serious contenders in an election later won by Karl Dean.
Now, he will be Nashville's new mayor following the resignation of Mayor Megan Barry, Dean's successor.
Briley, a liberal Democrat who resides in the Salemtown neighborhood near downtown, has taken an unorthodox path to make it to the office he campaigned for a decade ago.
Briley beat At-large Metro Councilman Tim Garrett in the 2015 race for vice mayor. But neither he — nor anyone else in the city — could have foreseen the contest for the un-glamorous No. 2 job would ultimately decide the next leader of city government.
Briley to take torch from Barry on transit referendum
By Metro Charter, Briley will be officially sworn in as mayor and serve until the city elects a new mayor during the city's next general election, which is set for August. Councilwoman Sheri Weiner, who is council's speaker pro tem, will serve as vice mayor.
Briley, 54, is a strong bet to run for the job full-time and if elected would complete Barry's term that ends in August 2019.
In the weeks ahead, he will take the torch on Barry's May 1 transit referendum on raising four taxes to pay for a $5.4 billion transit plan with light rail. Briley has been at outspoken supporter of the project.
The mid-term transfer of power is uncharted territory in the 55 years since the formation of Nashville's metropolitan form of government. And it will be led by someone who's no stranger to Nashville politics.
Grandson of Metro Nashville's first mayor
Briley, a former two-term at-large councilman from 1999 to 2007, is the grandson of Beverly Briley, the first mayor of Metro Nashville from 1963 to 1975 and for whom Briley Parkway is named.
Briley's younger brother Rob Briley is a former Democratic state representative parts of East Nashville. Rob Briley resigned as Judiciary chairman in 2007 following a high-profile DUI arrest and opted against reelection the next year. The seat is currently held by Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.
Briley, an attorney professionally, previously worked in a law firm with his brother. He's currently an attorney at Bone McCallester Norton PLLC, specializing in plaintiff’s personal injury and products liability litigation, commercial litigation and class action litigation.
Briley is married to Jodie Bell, an attorney at Bell, Tennant & Frogge. They have one son, Sam, who is in high school.
Expanded role of vice mayor
During his two and a half years as vice mayor, Briley has expanded the role of the office, at times wading into issues — most recently, the hot-button topic of short-term rentals — and serving as an arbiter on others. Briley, who as vice mayor only votes to break ties, has yet to be the deciding vote on a controversial subject.
During a new special council committee's investigation of Barry's use of taxpayer dollars during her affair, the committee had Briley recommend law firms for the investigation. He suggested two firms based in Memphis.
As a councilman whose tenure overlapped with the mayoral term of Bill Purcell, Briley was allied with the council's progressive and neighborhood-friendly council members — including then-East Nashville Councilman Mike Jameson, who is currently the council's attorney.
Led passage of ethics law as councilman
Briley won passage of the council's current ethics rules, which included the creation of the Board of Ethical Conduct and the required public disclosures of business dealings and gifts among elected city officials.
During the tail-end of his council run, Briley opposed the construction of a new baseball stadium along the Cumberland River for the minor league baseball Nashville Sounds. He was also known for his push for greenways in East Nashville and as a budget guru.
Briley, who was raised in Nashville and attended Montgomery Bell Academy, received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He later taught English in Latin America and returned to the U.S. to attend Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
2007 mayoral run was short on money, voters
In 2006, Briley announced a run for vice mayor, but later exited that race to run for mayor instead.
During the mayor's race, Briley struggled on fundraising for most of the race in a campaign that also featured Dean, U.S. Rep. Bob Clement, then-Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, and former At-large Councilman Buck Dozier.
Briley sought to appeal to the city's progressives, but many of those voters ultimately went to Dean, who was the city's law director under Purcell.
Briley's biggest skepticism came from business leaders worried about a mayor who would push progressive policies — a similar crowd that voiced criticism of Barry prior to her election. Barry ended up pushing a business-friendly agenda that was aligned with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236, jgarrison@tennessean and on Twitter @joeygarrison.