Bill Purcell (mayor)

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Bill Purcell
Mayor Bill Purcell
67th Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee
In office
May 6, 1999 – September 21, 2007
Preceded by Phil Bredesen
Succeeded by Karl Dean
Personal details
Born (1953-10-25) October 25, 1953 (age 61)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Debbie Miller
Alma mater Hamilton College
Vanderbilt University
Profession Lawyer

William Paxson Purcell III (born October 25, 1953) was the fifth mayor[1] of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, elected first in 1999 and reelected to a second term in 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party. On June 24, 2008 he was named director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics (IOP) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Purcell assumed the post on September 1, 2008. He was one of three co-chairs of the Harvard University Allston Work Team.[2] He is now in private practice of law in Nashville and an adjunct professor of Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. He is currently a Trustee at St. Bonaventure University.

Early life and education[edit]

Purcell was born in 1953 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in the nearby suburb of Wallingford, Pennsylvania. He attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York where he served as Vice President of the Student Senate and was a columnist for the school newspaper. After graduating from Hamilton, Purcell attended law school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He received his law degree in 1979 and began practicing at the West Tennessee Legal Services agency in Jackson, Tennessee.

Political history[edit]

In 1986, Purcell was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives[3] where he served for five terms. As 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. Purcell retired from the General Assembly in 1996 to became 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.

Although many suspected that he would run for governor in 1998, Purcell instead announced that he would enter the race for Mayor of Metro Nashville after incumbent mayor Phil Bredesen opted not to run for a third term. Purcell won the election against former Mayor Richard Fulton and then Vice Mayor Jay West. In September 1999, Purcell took office as the fifth mayor of Metropolitan Nashville. Purcell was reelected to a second term in 2003 with a record-setting 84.8 percent of the vote. Purcell is the second native Northerner to serve as mayor of Nashville (at least since the merger of Nashville and Davidson County in 1963); the first was Bredesen.

Purcell opted not to run for a third term because an amendment to the Metro Charter which limited city council members to two consecutive terms was worded in a way that it applied to mayors as well. Although mayors have been limited to three consecutive terms since the formation of Metro Nashville in 1963, Purcell decided not to make an issue of it, and stepped down at the end of his term in 2007. In the fall of 2007 he served as a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and later as the Dean of the school of Public Service and Urban Affairs at Tennessee State University. He was succeeded as mayor by Metro's law director, Karl Dean.

Personal life[edit]

Purcell and his wife Debbie Miller live in the historic Lockeland Springs neighborhood of East Nashville.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MAYOR PURCELL RECEIVES LEADERSHIP AWARD". nashville.gov. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell Named Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics". Harvard University Institute of Politics. Harvard University. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "Full Biography for Bill Purcell". smartvoter.org. Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
Preceded by
Phil Bredesen
Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee
1999-2007
Succeeded by
Karl Dean