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Karl F. Dean Edit Profile

Mayor , Nashville

Karl Foster Dean served as the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.


Dean, Karl was born on September 20, 1955 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States.


Bachelor, Columbia University, 1978. Juris Doctor, Vanderbilt University, 1981. Graduate senior executives in state and local government, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School Government, 1999.


He was sworn in on September 21, 2007. From 1999 to January 9, 2007, Karl Dean served as Nashville's Director of Law under Mayor Bill Purcell. In 1990, 1994, and 1998, he was elected the city's public defender.

Karl Dean is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School. Although elections in Nashville are nonpartisan, Dean, like nearly all elected officials in the city, is known to be a Democrat. 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 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.

In January 2003, he said a proposed law to ban job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was not unconstitutional. 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. 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. Karl Dean announced his mayoral candidacy on December 19, 2006. 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. Dean left office on September 25, 2015. He is succeeded by Megan Barry, the first woman to be 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.


  • 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.


Married Anne Davis; children: Rascoe, Frances, Wallen.

Anne Davis

Rascoe Dean

Frances Dean

Wallen Dean