Vanderbilt Lawyer - Volume 36, Number 1

Take a hike with Justin

by Beverly Keel (condensed from The Tennessean, July 9, 2007) Justin Wilson, '70

Justin Wilson's short-lived Nashville mayoral campaign may go down in history as the most honest political campaign ever, even if it was a ruse. His campaign slogan - "Take a Hike with Wilson: Fees, Taxes, Rates!" - was a solemn promise. "There isn't a tax I don't hike," Wilson, '70, who served as Chief Policy Advisor in former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist's administration, pledged earnestly. "When I was in state government, I drafted the largest tax increase in state history. It didn't pass, but I drafted it."

Wilson, a partner with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis and an adjunct professor who teaches professional ethics at Vanderbilt Law School, garnered the public support of fellow alumnus Aubrey Harwell, '67, of Neal and Harwell with another popular campaign promise - to ensure road kill is reported properly. "I support Justin because his wisdom is manifest by his campaign platform," Harwell announced. "I also support Justin because, like me and others, he is hair-impaired."

Wilson's facetious mayoral campaign was actually a clever way to draw attention to the burgeoning financial obligation represented by the Metropolitan Nashville government's commitment for its employees' post-retirement benefits. "These benefits will cost well over a billion dollars, and all of the candidates have conveniently ignored them," Wilson said. "And that's no joke."