Phil Bredesen, the forty-eighth governor of Tennessee, built a reputation for effective leadership in business and government as a private businessman and as mayor of Nashville/Davidson County from 1991 to 1999. He campaigned for governor in 2002 on a platform to better manage state government, improve Tennessee’s schools, and reform TennCare.
As mayor of Nashville, Bredesen restored confidence in metropolitan government following the scandal-wracked administration of former Congressman Bill Boner. Under Bredesen, Music City was voted as one of the best places in America to live, work, and raise a family. Among his numerous accomplishments were building a new local library system, implementing major capital improvements in the county school system, adding substantial acreage to the county’s parks and greenways, driving down the city’s crime rate, and bringing the National Football League’s Tennessee Titans to the state. Bredesen cites his proudest accomplishment as mayor as the infusion of nearly half a billion new dollars into the local education system, resulting in the addition of more than 440 new teachers, the building of thirty-two new schools, and the renovation of forty-three others. He also implemented a back-to-basics curriculum.
Nashville saw record economic growth during Bredesen’s tenure, attracting high-quality jobs in major companies such as Dell Computer Corporation and HCA Healthcare. He oversaw the renewal of Nashville’s downtown entertainment district and spearheaded public-private partnerships that led to the development of the new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
Community involvement has been a central part of Bredesen’s life. He is a founding member of Nashville’s Table, a nonprofit group that collects overstocked and discarded food from local restaurants for the city’s homeless population, and he served on the Frist Center’s board. He also founded the Land Trust for Tennessee, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve open space and traditional family farms.
Governor Bredesen and his wife, Andrea Conte, then a nurse and later a businesswoman, moved to Nashville in 1975. Doing research at the public library, he drafted a business plan in the couple’s small apartment that led to the creation of HealthAmerica Corporation, a health-care management company that eventually grew to more than six thousand employees and traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He sold the company in 1986.
Born November 21, 1943, Bredesen grew up in Shortsville, a rural farming community in upstate New York, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University. He and Andrea have one son, Ben.