Karl Dean

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Karl Dean
Karl Dean 2007.jpg
68th Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee
In office
September 21, 2007 – September 25, 2015
Preceded by Bill Purcell
Succeeded by Megan Barry
Personal details
Born Karl Foster Dean
(1955-09-20) September 20, 1955 (age 61)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States
Political party Democratic[1]
Spouse(s) Anne Davis
Children Rascoe, Frances, and Wallen
Alma mater Columbia University (B.A.)
Vanderbilt University (J.D.)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism

Karl Foster Dean (born September 20, 1955) is an American attorney and politician from the state of Tennessee. He served as the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. He was sworn in on September 21, 2007.[2] From 1999 to January 9, 2007, Karl Dean served as Nashville's Director of Law under Mayor Bill Purcell.[3] In 1990, 1994, and 1998, he was elected the city's public defender.[4] Karl Dean is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University in 1978 and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1981.[5][6]

Although elections in Nashville are nonpartisan, Dean, like nearly all elected officials in the city, is known to be a Democrat.[1]

Legal opinions as Metro Law Director[edit]

In March 2005, Karl Dean wrote that Mayor Bill Purcell could seek a third term, despite a 1994 referendum on "any elected office authorized or created by the [Metro] charter." This was because the 1963 charter states that there is a three-term limit for mayors, the 1994 amendment took place against a backdrop of a push for congressional term limits, and local public discussion focused on the Metro Council.[7] In January 2003, he said a proposed law to ban job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was not unconstitutional.[8]

When Metro Council members' health-care benefits came under scrutiny in September 2004, because the Metro Charter does not allow pension benefits for Council members, Karl Dean said that a health-care benefit wouldn't legally fall under a pension benefit, and therefore wouldn't be against the Charter.[9]

When asked if an amendment to the Metropolitan Charter requiring raises in the maximum property tax rates approved by the Metro Council to also be approved by Metro voters, Karl Dean said that a court was likely to find that provision of the Metro Charter invalid. This is because, he said, the Tennessee General Assembly has not authorized the charter of a consolidated government to restrict the authority of a legislative body to levy an ad valorem tax on property.[10]

Mayor of Nashville[edit]

Karl Dean announced his mayoral candidacy on December 19, 2006.[4] In the general election on August 2, 2007, he placed first with 24.6% of the vote. This advanced him to a run-off election against Bob Clement.[11] On September 11, 2007 Dean won the run-off election with 52.2% of the vote.

Dean easily won re-election in August 2011 with 79.2% of the vote.[12]

Dean left office on September 25, 2015. He is succeeded by Megan Barry, the first woman to be Mayor of Nashville.


Dean is married to Anne Davis, who is one of the four very wealthy heirs of the Joe C. Davis, Jr. and Rascoe Davis coal fortunes and a proprietor of the Joe C. Davis Foundation in Nashville. He is Catholic. Dean also has three children, Rascoe, Frances, and Wallen.


  1. ^ a b Reisinger, Brian (February 8, 2011). "Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announces team for 2011 election". Nashville Business Journal. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Cass, Michael (September 21, 2007). "Dean: "We need to raise the bar on our expectations"". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2007-09-21. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Karl Dean for Mayor of Nashville". Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b Harless, Bill (December 20, 2006). "Dean will leave law director post to run for mayor". The Nashville City Paper. 
  5. ^ "Vanderbilt University Law School :: Karl F. Dean". Archived from the original on September 8, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Karl Dean - Mayoral Election News Story - WSMV Nashville". Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  7. ^ Schrade, Brad (March 11, 2005). "Metro law director says Purcell can seek 3rd term". The Tennessean. 
  8. ^ Paine, Anne (January 31, 2003). "Metro lawyer says gay rights law meets constitutional test". The Tennessean. 
  9. ^ Schrade, Brad (September 21, 2004). "Health-care benefit shift for council questioned". The Tennessean. 
  10. ^ "2006-03.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  11. ^ "ELECTION UPDATE: Dean, Clement match-up set; Gentry & Dozier concede". The Nashville City Paper. February 23, 2007. 
  12. ^ http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/metro-election-2011-vote-totals
Preceded by
Bill Purcell
Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee
Succeeded by
Megan Barry