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Alumni News: Class Years 1970-1979

Mr. Jay West ('94) Passes Away

Thursday, March 2, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Jay West, a former Nashville vice mayor and past Metro councilman from one of Nashville's most prominent political families, died Wednesday. He was 65. Family friend David Heflin confirmed West's death but declined to disclose a cause. West had recently been admitted to Tristar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. West, son of former Nashville Mayor Ben West and brother of former Democratic state Rep. Ben West Jr. of Nashville, served as an at-large councilman from 1983 to 1995 before being elected vice mayor in 1995. West was part of an old guard of politicians from East Nashville, the onetime power base of the city. He replaced longtime Vice Mayor David Scobey and served one four-year term as vice mayor. West then ran for mayor in 1999, finishing third behind winner Bill Purcell and Dick Fulton. West also had a career as a prominent lobbyist at the Tennessee General Assembly. "Jay West loved Nashville and like his father was dedicated to a life of public service as a way to make his hometown a better place," Heflin, who is serving as the family's spokesman, said in a statement. "He played an important role and was proud of what our city has become and was excited about where it’s going. Most of all, he treasured the friendships made throughout his life.” Tim Garrett, a former councilman and state representative from Goodlettsville, was a lifelong friend and council colleague of West. The two attended the same high school, Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon. "He spent his life serving Nashville in some form or fashion," Garrett said. "He and his family have been a part of Nashville for as long as I've known." Garrett recalled how West cast the deciding vote as vice mayor to break a 20-20 council tie to pass a tax increase proposed by then-Mayor Phil Bredesen — one of the few times in Metro history the vice mayor has had to settle such a high-profile issue. Garrett worked to defeat the proposal, but he was overridden by his friend West. "Good friends are good competitors," Garrett said. "Jay was likable, he was knowledgeable, and he was very easy to meet. Politics sometimes gets down to friendships. Jay was just one of those guys everybody wanted to be friends with." Nashville businessman Bill Freeman, co-chairman of Freeman Webb Co., also went to high school with West, who was Freeman's squad leader during those school years. "He was just a conscientious public servant," Freeman said. "He didn't necessarily seek the limelight. He was a competent, hardworking, dedicated public servant who loved Nashville. He always tried to do the right thing." West, a Nashville native, graduated from Belmont University and Nashville School of Law. In addition to his time in elected office, West represented a variety of trade associations and interests as a lobbyist at the state level, including in the areas of education, health care, land use zoning and workers' compensation.

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