John Cooper (Tennessee politician)

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John Cooper
9th Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville
Assumed office
September 28, 2019
Preceded byDavid Briley
Personal details
Born (1956-10-15) October 15, 1956 (age 66)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseLaura Fitzgerald
RelativesPrentice Cooper (father)
Jim Cooper (brother)
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Vanderbilt University (MBA)
WebsiteGovernment website

John Cooper (born October 15, 1956) is an American businessman who is the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee. He served as a councilman at-large on the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County from 2015 until 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the brother of former U.S. representative Jim Cooper, who represented Tennessee's 5th congressional district, which was also based in Nashville.

Education and early career[edit]

Cooper was born in Nashville and raised in Shelbyville, Tennessee.[1] He earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University,[2] and his Master of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University in 1985.[2] He worked in finance for Shearson Lehman Brothers on Wall Street,[3] before returning to Nashville to work in real estate development in Williamson County, Tennessee.[4]

Political career[edit]

In 1980, Cooper worked on the congressional campaign of Buddy Roemer and the campaign of Jane Eskind for the Tennessee Public Service Commission. Roemer hired Cooper, then 23 years old, as his chief of staff. In 1982, Cooper returned to Nashville to help his brother, Jim, run for the United States House of Representatives in Tennessee's 4th congressional district.[2]

Cooper ran for an at-large seat on the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County in 2015.[5] He was elected, receiving the most votes of the candidates running for the five available at-large seats.[6]

He ran for mayor of Nashville in the 2019 Nashville mayoral election.[4] In the election's first round, Cooper led all candidates with 35% of the vote, advancing to a runoff election against David Briley, who received 25%, as both were ahead of Vanderbilt University professor Carol M. Swain and Tennessee house of representatives member John Ray Clemmons in the 10-candidate race.[7][8] He defeated Briley in the runoff election, receiving 69% of the vote.[9] He is the first candidate to defeat an incumbent mayor of Nashville in an election since its consolidation in 1963.[10] His campaign financing included $1.4 million in personal loans. Cooper raised less money for his campaign than his opponent but outspent Briley using his own money. [11] He was sworn into office on September 28.[12][13]

On January 31, 2023, Cooper announced that he would not run for reelection in the 2023 Nashville mayoral election.[14]

Political positions[edit]

Sanctuary city status[edit]

Cooper has stated that "Nashville cannot and will not be a sanctuary city."[15] In October 2019, he reversed an executive order implemented by former mayor David Briley in his last few weeks in office that reportedly discouraged local cooperation with federal immigration authorities and encouraged the repeal of state laws described as "anti-sanctuary" laws.[16]

Personal life[edit]

His wife, Laura Fitzgerald Cooper, is a former constitutional law professor. They have three sons. His father, Prentice Cooper, was the 39th governor of Tennessee. His brother, Jim was the U.S. representative for Tennessee's 5th congressional district, which prior to redistricting, encompassed Nashville and two surrounding counties.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shelton, Caitlyn (April 15, 2019). "Metro Councilman John Cooper announces run for Nashville mayor". WZTV. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Rau, Nate (July 10, 2019). "John Cooper sees bipartisan path to winning Nashville mayor's race". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  3. ^ Garrison, Joey (April 21, 2015). "John Cooper announces bid for Metro Council". The Tennessean. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Nashville mayor's race: John Cooper to run for mayor of Nashville". The Tennessean. April 15, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  5. ^ "Gilmore, Cooper carry on family tradition". The Tennessean. September 7, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  6. ^ Rau, Nate (September 10, 2015). "Cooper leads group of 5 new At-large Council members". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  7. ^ "Nashville mayor election: John Cooper, David Briley head to runoff race". The Tennessean. August 1, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  8. ^ "John Cooper leads David Briley as two head to September runoff battle in Nashville mayoral race". The Tennessean.
  9. ^ "Nashville mayor and council runoff election results". The Tennessean. September 12, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Rua, Nate (September 13, 2019). "How John Cooper will assume the Nashville mayor's office in an unprecedented transition of power". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  11. ^ "Nashville Mayor Election John Cooper Struggles Fundraising but Self Financing Outspends Rivals". The Tennessean. July 26, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "John Cooper sworn in as Nashville mayor". The Tennessean. September 28, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "New Nashville Mayor John Cooper will be sworn in Sept. 28 at Stratford HS". The Tennessean. September 18, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "Nashville Mayor John Cooper announces he won't seek second term". The Tennessean.
  15. ^ "Mayor-elect John Cooper: Nashville cannot and will not be a 'Sanctuary City'". Fox 17 Nashville. September 13, 2019. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  16. ^ Jeong, Yihyun (October 14, 2019). "Mayor John Cooper overturns Briley's immigration executive order, creates task force". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. Retrieved October 19, 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Nashville