August 3, 2023 Election (Nashville, TN)

Nashvillains! We’re a little less than a month from when early voting begins on July 14, which is also Bastille Day. Maybe unlike me you don’t have the date for Bastille Day memorized but I do so that’s how I’m remembering when to go vote.

I’ve linked to where I’ve found info. If I’ve missed something consequential, let me know. I’ll keep this updated as I learn things. Because this is a lot of info, I’ve set it up as a bunch of collapsible sections, so just open the parts that interest you (look for the triangles).

Image by Jameson Fink.

If you’d like to thank me for this labor of love, support investigative journalism with a Nashville Scene, Tennessee Lookout, or The Tennessean subscription or donation to the Nashville Banner.

TL;DR my endorsements

  • TN House District 51 (primary): Aftyn Behn.
  • House District 52: Obviously Justin Jones.
  • Mayor: Freddie O’Connell.
  • Vice Mayor: Angie Henderson.
  • Council At-Large: Burkley Allen, Olivia Hill, Delishia Porterfield, Zulfat Suara, and Jeff Syracuse.
  • Council: Sullivan or Cortese (4), Sean Parker (5), Emily Benedict (7), Stephanie Montenegro (9), Zach Young (10), Eric Patton (11), Jordan Huffman (14), Jeff Gregg (15), Ginny Welsch (16), Jackson or Vo (17), Tom Cash (18), Rollin Horton (20), Lisa Williams (23), Jeff Preptit (25), Travis London (28), anyone but Vetter (29), Sandy Ewing (34), and Jason Spain (35).
  • Unopposed: Kyonzté Toombs (2), Jennifer Gamble (3), Erin Evans (12), Russ Bradford (13), Sheri Weiner (22), Brenda Gadd (24), Courtney Johnston (26), Robert Nash (27), Sandra Sepulveda (30), Joy Styles (32), and Antoinette Lee (33).
  • No recommendation: districts 1, 6, 8, 19, 21, 31 (still lots of info on candidates below).

Background on some of the major issues in this race:


We don’t have enough, and what we have is too expensive. Permitting is part of the problem. WKRN talked with mayoral candidates about this issue—Heidi Campbell notes that “the state legislature has stripped the ability of local governments to require developers to include affordable housing as part of the planning process.” The Barnes Housing Trust Fund is one tool to address this issue.


Between a terrible hub-and-spoke public transit system, the failure of the 2018 transit referendum, and the influx of gawdzillions of people to the city, commutes are getting longer. We need a multimodal system.

     Titans stadium deal

The city will pay $760 million in stadium costs, and the state $500 million. About $18.6 million/year will be raised by a new 1% hotel occupancy tax. The team is paying $840 million and is, crucially, responsible for cost overruns.

I’m personally not thrilled that we’re giving the Titans a bunch of money, but Zulfat Suara has a deep dive that explains that the 1996 agreement (that this deal replaces) obligated us to maintain the old stadium, which needs renovations. Estimates on reno costs range from $300 mil to $1.8 billion (Titans estimate) and are probably at least $700 million, so paying $760 million to be done forever with this nonsense is better than letting it drag on. We should probably all blame 1996-mayor Phil Bredesen, but a lot of people are mad at Council anyway. Mayoral candidates’ positions: pro: Heidi Campbell, Sharon Hurt, Matt Wiltshire, Jeff Yarbro; anti: Jim Gingrich, Freddie O’Connell.

     Sour relations with the state

The supermajority Republican state government has a default-hostile stance towards blue-city Nashville (remember when they outlawed municipal mask mandates?), but has really ramped up the hostility since Nashville said no to the 2024 RNC (even though the GOP had already recommended Milwaukee, so it wasn’t going to happen anyway). Since then, the state government passed these laws, apparently forgetting if they hurt our economy, they hurt the whole state:

  1. Cut the Metro Nashville Council in half (from 40 to 20 members), which might negatively impact minority representation. The state rejected having a referendum, probably because Nashvillians rejected a similar proposal in 2015. The bill was blocked by the courts until at least 2027.
  2. Limits Nashville using excess proceeds from Music City Center for anything other than “paying off the debt created to build the building, maintaining the building, and any related capital expenses.” In the wake of the 2020 Christmas bombing, Music City Center is considering $39.3 million for downtown improvements, which would be illegal under this bill. Also puts 3 state officials on the Music City Center board as non-voting members.
  3. Take over 6 of the 8 seats on the Nashville’s Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (which the FAA was against) and 6 of 13 seats on the sports authority (which oversees publicly-funded sports stadiums). We’re suing.
  4. Disband police oversight boards in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. (They also passed a law in 2019 making these boards advisory only.) We may recreate a Community Oversight Board under new rules. The original COB was approved by more than 59% of Nashville residents.
  5. Passed a bill that prevents municipalities from having supermajority vote requirements, which has the effect of lowering from 27 to 21 the votes necessary to approve Bristol Motor Speedway’s proposed racetrack facility. We’re suing.

I sent an email to all candidates with a handful of questions. Open for the text of the email. Answers are with the candidates who sent them (and many, but not all, of them quote the questions again); I have only redacted home and mobile numbers that a few included, and have not fixed spelling or other errors, though some formatting was not easily replicable here and I didn’t get too fussy about trying.

Dear mayoral and council candidates,

I am a Nashville resident considering who to vote for in August. I hope that you (or your staff) can answer these questions to help me decide. I intend to share your answers online as well.

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?
  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?
  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

Thanks in advance for your answers! I very much appreciate your time.

Joanne Merriam

TN House District 51

The special election for Bill Beck’s seat will be September 14, the same date as the runoff for races in this election which don’t have a candidate who garners 50% of the vote. There are two Democrats running in the primary for this August election (Aftyn Behn and Anthony Davis) but I haven’t researched them: the below info has exhausted me and this is not my district.

Edited July 15 to add: I endorse Aftyn Behn in the primary. I spoke with a volunteer for Aftyn Behn today when I went to vote, and liked what she had to say. Anthony Davis was appointed to the seat last month and he seems fine? He’s a former councilmember and says he wants to work to get stuff done (does he know the Republicans have a supermajority?) and is apparently ducking a candidate forum with Behn. Aftyn Behn is more progressive and fiery and has talked about acting as a backup to the Tennessee 3, and Gloria Johnson (of the TN 3) has endorsed her.

TN House District 52

No Justins, no peace! Vote for Justin Jones against Republican Laura Nelson. This is the seat the Republicans are trying to steal by trumping up an excuse to expel Democrats. The two special elections are costing us about $475,000 total. Open for details if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

The Tennessee Three“—Reps. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), Justin Jones (D-Nashville), and Justin Pearson (D-Memphis)—faced expulsion from the TN General Assembly since Monday, for breaking decorum rules to join gun violence protestors after they were not permitted to speak in the Chamber, on March 30, in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville on March 27. They used a bullhorn and spoke without being recognized, in violation of House chamber rules.

Jones and Johnson were stripped of their committee assignments (Pearson didn’t have any). Republicans voted to expel Rep. Justin Jones in a 72-25 vote and Justin Pearson in a 69-26 vote. The vote to expel Gloria Johnson failed by one vote. Johnson is white. Jones and Pearson are black. The white lady surviving because she didn’t actually shout is… something. Both men were reinstated by their respective county governments.

In the history of the state, only three previous expulsions have occurred, in 1866 (“for the contempt of the authority of this House”), 1980 (for accepting a bribe), and 2016 (for sexual misconduct). Previous votes for expulsion have all been bipartisan; this one was not. Meanwhile, the House speaker probably should be expelled and made to run in the district where he actually lives, but our supermajority Republican government will never chastise one of their own.


Overview: Incumbent John Cooper is not running, but e’erybody else is. My shortlist is (alphabetically) Heidi Campbell, Sharon Hurt, Freddie O’Connell, and Jeff Yarbro but won’t decide for another few weeks (I’ll update here when I do). Edited July 13 to add: I’ve decided on Freddie O’Connell, mainly because I’ve spoken with a few of his volunteers who were really ride or die for him, and I haven’t talked to anybody who felt that way about other candidates. Additionally, polling shows Alice Rolli, Matt Wiltshire, and Freddie O’Connell as the frontrunners. Strategic voters should vote O’Connell since he currently leads the pack (voting for one of the other three listed above could end up with a runoff between Rolli and Wiltshire), but for me, this is voting my heart.

I expect this race to go to a runoff (unlikely for one person to get more than 50% of the vote) on September 14, 2023. Generally speaking I don’t like how many elections we have—I think it’s a form of voter suppression (even if not intended that way). Some folks in Nashville will have four elections to vote in, in just four months, which is bonkers!

But I do like that people have to get 50% of the vote to be elected, because it prevents what we see in my home country of Canada a lot: two candidates on one side of a major issue or in one party each get 30% of the vote, against one candidate on the other side who gets 40% and wins, even though 60% of the voters disagree with them.

I’ll be so angry if the run-off ends up being Jim Gingrich or Matt Wiltshire against Alice Rolli. So I’ll be looking at polls mid-July to see if Gingrich or Wiltshire are higher up in the polls, in which case I’ll have to be a bit strategic about my choice. This is why I’m not simply deciding now – any of the four candidates in my shortlist are acceptable to me, and I don’t want to vote my heart and then end up with one of these friggin rich centrists as a result.


NATISHA BROOKS: Former Republican congressional candidate. Her website describes her as “Conservative, Collaborative & Committed” and features tells-you-nothing statements like, “She is 100 percent for our Police Force and 100 Percent for ‘Police Reform’.” Her only qualification is that she has “owned and operated a Homeschool Academy.” Favors fixing potholes, reverting to pre-2020 taxes, and trade schools. Her answer to how to make housing affordable is to cut property taxes – also in that link, she opposes the Titans deal, and proposes more funding for mental health facilities, increased police force and salaries, and increased teacher’s salaries and teacher’s stipends. She is a “Christian conservative constitutionalist.”


FRAN BUSH: Website says she holds a Graduate Degree in Healthcare Administration & Planning from TSU, is the Owner and Director of Model Kids Learning Academy, has been a Homeowner’s Association President for over 20 years. Her WKRN Q&A says a lot of great stuff, but the answer to how she would handle the relationship with the state government makes me think she doesn’t know what she’s up against.

While she was on the Metropolitan Nashville School Board, Bush had an ethics complaint filed against her by the teachers’ union for fighting with teachers on Facebook over reopening schools. In her Nashville Scene Q&A, she blames getting only 29% of the vote on running as an independent, apparently not understanding that accepting the help of fash like Moms for Liberty alienated her base. Anyway, even if I liked the way she handled herself on the school board (and I did not), she’s really under-qualified for Mayor.


HEIDI CAMPBELL: Website. Attended Hume-Fogg. MBA from Vanderbilt. Former music industry executive. Currently a state senator where she is a member of the Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the Fiscal Review Committee, and the Transportation and Safety Committee.

Helped pave the way for the Titans stadium. Thinks we should consider moving freight rail out of the city. Opposes third-grade retention policies and would increase quality-of-life support and after-school programs.

The Tennessean profile: “Our state made it illegal to require affordable housing as a component of development deals, but we can find ways to work around this (through lease agreements and other financial and organizational instruments). In my administration we’ll create innovative and affordable housing models for artists, musicians and workforce housing for teachers, emergency responders and service workers. We’ll continue to fund the Barnes Affordable Housing Trust Fund at a minimum of $30M per year, which will be enough to support construction of 1500 new affordable units annually, and we will immediately identify public land suitable for affordable housing and offer incentives for development.” (Just read this whole article, she gives substantive answers to every question.)

Nashville Post Q&A: “This is a long game, that’s part of the Southern strategy. And a lot of this is driven by ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] and the Council for National Policy and the fact that they really do want to have a Republican-led city and a presence here that is primarily Republican and far right. And it is also driven by what [Republicans] perceive as offenses that they feel that the Nashville [Metro] Council have committed. I have been able to get a lot done in a bipartisan way. Just this week, I quietly defended and was able to get voted down an amendment to our constitution without much fanfare. And I think a lot of work can be done out of the glare of the public eye because [working in the public eye] amps things up on both sides.”

On securing dedicated funding for public transit: “Sen. Heidi Campbell, At-large Council member Sharon Hurt and Assessor Vivian Wilhoite agreed. Campbell said Nashville could secure funding from federal opportunities, and Wilhoite said she’s committed to securing dedicated transit funding as part of her push for ‘economic parity’ among neighborhoods in Davidson County. Hurt reiterated her proposal for dedicated vehicle lanes for regional transit.”

Endorsements: “state Rep. Bob Freeman, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Sen. Sara Kyle, Rep. Bo Mitchell and Cheryl Mayes, a current Nashville School Board member” and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Edited July 18 to add: her office answered my email:

Joanne, I am very sorry that this email thread got lost in the shuffle. If you are still interested, below are Heidi’s answers:

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

    This race is about a lot of things, but it ultimately centers around one question, “Are we building a city to visit or a city to live in?” The mayor you elect will be responsible not just for helping Nashville grow but also for fixing the crises we face every day. This book isn’t focused on hotbutton topics or political buzzwords. It’s about our most pressing problems and how my administration will fix them. The solutions I’ve proposed are a mixture of easily implementable programs and long-term initiatives. They focus on extending the benefits of our growth to every Nashville resident, keeping our citizens safe, strengthening our public schools, and more. I will continue to supplement this book with documents that outline, in detail, my plans to fix this city’s solid waste problem, expand multi-modal transit, and increase Nashville’s supply of affordable housing—just to name a few. Every politician can tell you their vision for the future, but only true leaders will lay out a plan to get there. That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do with this book. I want you, the voter, to understand not just what my goals as mayor are, but how I plan to achieve them. It’s the transparency you deserve from the people you elect to serve you. Whether it was eliminating my own salary while Mayor of Oak Hill to balance the budget or working across the aisle in the State Senate while still remaining a fierce advocate for the causes I believe in, I have the experience and relationships needed to lead Nashville in this next chapter of its development. I hope you will read more at

  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?


    It’s difficult to build new public transit in Nashville. Ask any Nashvillian about their top three concerns for the city, and one of them will undoubtedly be traffic. Commutes that took 15 minutes a decade ago can now last over an hour. This problem, however, didn’t take us by surprise–we’ve seen Davidson County’s traffic woes worsen year after year. And yet, we’ve taken little action to address the problem. One of the biggest obstacles to previous ideas has been the cost of land acquisition. Poor urban planning and Nashville’s rapid development have meant that most proposals cost too much to get off the ground. The Tennessee Department of Transportation studied relocating Radnor Yards out of Nashville almost a decade ago, but the proposal hasn’t been acted on. Doing so would free up the existing rail network to use for commuter rail. The best part? It would cost six times less than the transit plan proposed in 2018. This proposal would also reduce freight bottlenecks—saving money, increasing efficiency, and bringing new jobs to the mid-state. It’s a win-win situation for freight operators and Nashville transit.

    Nashville’s multi-modal transportation is virtually nonexistent. Nashville is the 2nd most car-dependent city in the United States16. Why? One of the biggest reasons is that getting around any other way is hard. Sidewalks and bike lanes stop in random places, bus stops can be miles from someone’s home, and sometimes the service simply does not exist. The Tennessee Senate just passed the most significant transportation bill in our state’s history. Funds from this can help fund multimodal connectivity like enhanced bus services, bus-on-shoulder lanes, and a light-rail route from the East Bank to the airport. If we use the Radnor Yard project as a centerpiece and build outwards, it’ll be comprehensive enough to catalyze expansion. We have access to some of the most abundant transit funding in decades. Opportunities abound between the State’s recent transportation bill and the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The Campbell Administration will establish a database tracking grant opportunities for transit so that we can take advantage of every resource.


    My plan for affordable housing follows a three step plan. The first phase is studying and identifying underused/vacant parcels that Metro currently owns. After these plots are evaluated for their “developability”–a measure that will incorporate factors like proximity to public transit, access to grocery stores, implementation of community/social services, etc.–my administration will then work with private developers to construct the units. Incenctivicaiton will come from discounted land rates along with tax, capacity, and development fee abatements (already in place under Metro’s PILOT program). The contracts offered to developers will mandate requirements for energy efficiency, building standards, maximum rents, and prices that are based on accepted formulas. Close cooperation between the Codes Department and the Mayor’s Office will ensure that these agreements are thorough and efficacious. Management of the units post-construction will be handled by community organizations, housing management specialists, and local non-profits. This process not only benefits all parties involved, but also enables for easier implementation of “wrap-around community services” that promote the health, safety, and success of residents.

    In addition to this three step process, my administration will also pursue broader enhancements and modifications that make it easier for entirely private ventures to construct affordable housing. This includes streamlining the permitting processes, removing the bottlenecks that often discourage and disincentivize developers from initiating projects. We will also work closely with groups in the film and television industry specifically to support co-op housing. When our artists can’t afford to live in Nashville, it has much broader effects on our city’s culture, wellbeing, and vibrancy. Creative professionals play a vital role in making Music City…Music City, and my administration will take action to make sure they are able to live here and not 45 minutes outside of Davidson County.

  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

    The “control” asserted by the ideologically motivated Tennessee State Legislature over our municipal autonomy threatens serious harm to our city. This past session, they voted to slash Metro Council in half and change how they vote, take control of our Metropolitan Airport Authority, hijack the Sports and Convention Authority, eliminate the Community Oversight Board, and restrict tax revenue collection. As Mayor, I will work with the Mayor’s Caucus and the state legislature—two groups I have worked hard to cultivate relationships with—to calm down the attacks and refocus our efforts on improving our constituents’ lives.


BERNIE COX: The first item on his website‘s policy page is support local police, then historical development, then transit & mobility (where he states no interest in a big project, only incremental changes), and that’s it—nothing on housing (to my mind a surprising omission for this race, and also given his job) or schools or other issues. Running as an outsider/non-politician business owner (he doesn’t say what his business is, but his Linked In says he’s a self-employed builder, and also a Entertainment Management/ Singer-Songwriter/ Audio Engineer/ Marketing, and also works in hospitality at the Marriott) with several calls to ignore party politics. I don’t think I’d endorse this guy for any position, but especially not Mayor where I do think you need some experience navigating city politics.

In this Candidate Q&A he lists this as his first priority: “Criminal Justice: I cannot be more impressed with our men and women first responders and in particular those who put their lives on the line every day policing our streets to keep us safe. Not only will I support them in their daily operations, I will also push to ensure we have the judicial will and fortitude to keep offenders behind bars. I hear the term criminal justice reform and equate that to convenient slogans such as ‘Defund the Police’ or changes we’ve seen in other large blue cities of allowing law offenders to walk free with no jail time. Rather than call for criminal justice reform, I’d like to see our laws upheld and protect our families.”

He briefly answered my email:

Joanne, sorry for a late response. I broke my back last week and will be running my campaign from a keyboard.

Issues in question are actually answered on my website:


Sent from Bernie Cox


JIM GINGRICH: Honestly, I hope this guy loses hard, not because of his policy positions but because he’s a rich guy running as a hobby. I fear his money makes him a contender.

Website. The former executive of AllianceBernstein has already spent $2 million of his own money on this race, which is pretty much disqualifying for me. (I expect mayoral candidates to have money but would like to think they have some idea of what life is like for regular wage-earners.) I have already seen multiple ads for him and have received a phone call and a text from his campaign.

The Tennessee Lookout described him: Describing his life since retiring a few years ago as “doing what retired people do, having lazy mornings with a cup of coffee, planning trips, thinking about what bike ride I was going to take in the afternoon,” he said he came to realize the city needs his vision and leadership. Gingrich has impressive credentials (and opposed the stadium deal, so there’s that), but retired-guy-seeks-hobby is not a good look as the basis for a mayoral run in a city you moved to only a handful of years ago. and in another article they say, “Gingrich, who in earlier forums sounded like someone who just moved here and knows not very much about how the city works, has also made progress: he now sounds like someone who fairly recently moved here and knows a moderate amount about how the city works.” LOL.

He opposed the Titans stadium deal. Nashville Scene profile. Favors “creative financial incentives” for developers to solve housing.

In this candidate Q&A, he suggests these actionable items for tackling affordable housing: “1. Properly invest in the Barnes fund to create more affordable housing here in Nashville. 2. Make use of the land the city owns that is ripe for affordable housing development. 3. Harness the power of the private sector to make the multibillion dollar investments in housing and make it easier for affordable housing to be built.”

Gingrich answered my email:

Hi Joanne,

Thanks so much for reaching out! If you have time, would love to discuss more, but answers below.

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

If you get in your car and you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to burn a lot of gas and you may not like where you end up. And if you’re a city that is experiencing unrestrained growth without a plan, you end up with housing you can’t afford, inadequate infrastructure, underfunded schools, higher crime, and stuck in traffic way more than you want to be. That gets worse every day here. So, what have our politicians focused on? Well, they’ve been figuring out how to provide the largest public subsidy in the history of sport to a billionaire NFL owner. And with leadership like that, it should be no surprise that our city government is spending 60% more per resident today than it spent ten years ago and we struggle to keep our roads in good condition. We have become the pay more, get less city, and that needs to change. I’m not like the other candidates on this stage. I’m not a political insider. I oversaw thousands of employees and a multibillion-dollar budget, about the same size as Metro and I got to that position because I have a career of proving time and again that I got things done. We can grow as a city and we can do it with a purpose and a plan to benefit the people of Nashville. I am going to be a mayor that works for you, not special interests, not out-of-town developers and not the insiders.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

I’ll address transit and then housing.


Years of unrestrained growth with no plan to manage it have congested our streets and made our city unsafe for pedestrians. It is unacceptable that our families and children are risking their lives to move around their community. We need to urgently deal with the fact that we have an unacceptable rate of pedestrian deaths.

We have had multiple transit studies. Yet, today our congestion is worse than ever, because those studies have gathered dust rather than created action.

I will focus on three things:

  • First, last year, we had 49 pedestrian deaths. That is unacceptable. We must fix dangerous intersections, accelerate traffic calming, and invest in sidewalks.
  • Second, let’s get the basics right. Keep our roads in good repair, get our traffic lights synced, increase the frequency of buses and invest in rapid bus service on high volume routes.
  • Third, let’s recognize that 90% of our population growth as a region in the past five years has been in the surrounding counties. We need a regional solution, an effort I will lead.


We’ve done multiple affordable housing studies. Each one tells us the problem is worse than the last time we studied it. It’s a shame that the unrestrained growth has priced so many people out of our city.

Even the people who serve our city — our teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other Metro workers — can’t even afford to live here anymore.

This is another example where the city has kicked the can. The magnitude of the challenge is now measured in tens of thousands of units needed and billions of dollars to make it happen.

That’s why we need leadership that will work for the people, instead of for out of town developers, to address the affordable housing crisis. And it starts with three things:

  • Properly invest in the Barnes fund to create more affordable housing here in Nashville
  • Make use of the land the city owns that is ripe for affordable housing development
  • Harness the power of the private sector to make the multibillion dollar investments in housing and make it easier for affordable housing to be built

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

What is happening right now with the state has all of us asking where is the adult in the room. Rather than focus on what is best for the people they serve, we have politicians seeking to score political points. I am not a career politician, and I will not play these games.

But our relationship with the state requires a strategy that extends beyond strengthening our relationship with the Governor and Legislative leadership.

The Nashville mayor is the natural convenor across the state, and we can build coalitions to aid in our debates with the state. For instance, the greater Nashville region accounted for 50% of the economic growth of the state over the past 10 years, and all of our surrounding counties and towns are part of that ecosystem. As mayor, I will invest my time building productive relationships with our neighbors. We also share common challenges with all of the other major cities across the state, be it affordable housing, crime or education.

Let’s stop playing politics and get back to solving problems.


SHARON W. HURT (currently Council At Large): Website. Masters from Belmont. Worked at Meharry Medical College for over 20 years. Was a substitute teacher in adult education. Was President/CEO of J.U.M.P. for 23 years. Currently Executive Director of Streetworks. Has been At-Large since 2015.

The Tennessee Lookout described her:

Hurt frames her campaign around the idea that Nashville is a “tale of two cities,” which she illustrates with her own daily experience of living in Bellevue while working in North Nashville. The path forward, she says, is to “restore trust in government, and the only way you do that is with truth and transparency.”

If that sounds lofty and inspirational, but kind of light on the details, well, that’s my impression of Hurt as a political figure. In person she is simultaneously charming and forcefully compelling, someone you quickly like and respect at the same time. Reading through Hurt’s Q&A with the Banner you get the sense of someone who is more about vision and justice than policy specifics. Can that be a winning formula? She won’t have the resources some candidates have, but she knows Nashville as well as any of them. As she told the Banner, “I represent people who have been underestimated by politicians, because I am one myself.”

The Tennessean feature: “A lot of people are seeing the old Nashville fade away. We need to welcome Nashville’s new residents and prosperity, but we need to make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of longtime and less privileged residents. We need to look at the bigger picture and redefine “minority”. Being a minority is not race-based but need-based. Minorities are mothers with sick children who can’t afford medical treatment, kids in underfunded public schools, and veterans.”

WKRN Q&A: “We also have to make sure that Nashville is a leader in community policing and that the police have relationships with the people they’re supposed to protect. When I was growing up, the captain of the police lived a block away from me. That’s the type of relationship we need between the police and the neighborhood.”

My husband and I have two housemates in a four-bedroom house, which was technically against codes until May 2023 (which I didn’t even know until they changed it!). Sean Parker proposed an amendment that increases the number of unrelated people who may live together to 4 in a house with 3 bedrooms or less, and 5 in a house with 4 or more bedrooms. Hurt voted for.

Also while on Council, Hurt sponsored an ordinance requiring 20% of Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to go to qualified small non-profits. She voted for the stadium (and proposed an “amendment [in the council] that has already passed first reading to make sure that minority-owned, women-owned and small, disadvantaged businesses are part of the contract”) and abstained on installation of license plate readers.

On securing dedicated funding for public transit: “Sen. Heidi Campbell, At-large Council member Sharon Hurt and Assessor Vivian Wilhoite agreed. Campbell said Nashville could secure funding from federal opportunities, and Wilhoite said she’s committed to securing dedicated transit funding as part of her push for ‘economic parity’ among neighborhoods in Davidson County. Hurt reiterated her proposal for dedicated vehicle lanes for regional transit.”

Endorsements: Local civil rights attorney Abby Rubenfeld (who I think really highly of) is her campaign treasurer. She is also endorsed by a long list of AME pastors and the Elect Black Women PAC.


STEPHANIE JOHNSON: She runs skincare business Shea + Coconut and is completing a grad degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She previously ran for Council in District 7. Her website lists her priorities as schools, housing, safety, and infrastructure (in addition to the stuff in her email below, I like this idea: “Each district council member will work with the local transit authority to implement circular transportation hubs within their community”), then she has a separate section for other issues where she talks about stuff like Native American, Black and White relations, which I find refreshing.

In her WKRN profile, she says, “What if we have an organized system where our state policy team worked on the hill, interfering with bills coming down the pipeline and organizing citizens to dismantle them before they even hit the news?” I think this is an amazing idea which could be coordinated by anybody, not just Mayor, and I hope whoever becomes Mayor will work with her on it. I really like her ideas (see her email below!) and I wish she was running for Council. I don’t think anybody should be starting at Mayor (unless they have a really robust career as a political activist, something that shows they understand intimately how the system works). I hope we see more of her in future races, though.

Johnson answered my email (links are hers):

Please see the answers below:

If you have any more questions please let me know, I would be happy to have your vote.

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

My first priority is ensuring equity across schools. We are currently 94 of 95 counties for education. We have poverty rates that go well beyond 90% in some schools. Our children and families are hurting. Once in office I will be visiting every single school across metro to access needs face to face to see for myself how needs can be met. In addition, I want to push our school funding to $1.5 Billion. Right now we do not get our fair share of money from the state, many do not know that there is a public engagement period and process to ensure we do get our fair share of funding along with the formula. With the creation of our state policy team that will work between city and state, we will be on top of this. In addition, we need to change over our school buses from diesel, and green our buildings. In addition, schools can utilize their land and build housing for teachers on it. In addition, I was given a request by one school that if they could have anything, they would want support staff for parents who are having issues with their children at home. I have already reached out to my counseling connections to see if there is capacity for them to start something like this now. We must move our schools from 94th to top 5.

The next priority is housing. We have to create a new plan for our city with metro planning, as the current one has hurt our city too much. We have to have new conditions when it comes to how permits are given out and what areas can be rezoned. There are vulnerable populations living in Nashville, and we have to ensure they are not displaced. I will meet with the metro council and implement an unhousing housing plan, focusing on the 8,000+ metro students and the 3,000 individuals living on the streets. When you divide 3,000 people by 35 districts, you have 85 people per district to house. For our students, we would work under the school board and with youth advocacy nonprofits to ensure students are housing secured, and not just living in hotels. Next, we set the scale on our housing stock and look at each district, we take the top five that have the lowest percentages and those districts will take stock of their land and abandoned properties that are available for MORE HOUSING. Then, we Land Bank these properties (less than 20 states are using these resources). We also use community development financial institutions. Pinnacle Bank is already doing this, all we have to do is recruit more financial institutions among the districts to buy into the health of their community. In addition to Social Impact Bonds.

The next top priority is safety. We have 35 districts and 5 of them have the highest crime rates (2,8,15,19,21); community leaders, metro police, and district council members will meet to implement a plan and look to other cities to address how we will all work together as a community to become the big city with the lowest crime rate in the country. One of our greatest resources is the APU’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.

In my first six months we will have a 35-district gun buyback event. Implement nonviolent conflict resolution training throughout schools and ensure teachers have De-Escalation training with hostile students. Work with our local hospitals to launch hospital-based violence intervention programs. Work with our school board to develop a program for children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 schools to teach the students strategies and nonviolent methods to resolve conflict in collaboration with community organizations. These ideas were adopted from Senator Lamar’s bill SB0017.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

The GRNC has access to $3.1 Billion dollars for transit and I will be an active member ensuring that Nashville gets their projects funded for our roads and for new housing projects, including bus hubs in every district that needs them the most. Each district council member and community members will work with the local transit authority to implement circular transportation hubs within their community. Leading door-to-door campaigns encouraging and educating residents on new alternative transportation methods. Metro has to visit and vet the contractors we pay to pave our roads. Introduce alternative methods to paving our roads/recycling plastics – our trash dump is almost full, working on ways to encourage the community to compost and building partnerships to reduce recycling waste (a lot goes to the dump). Stephanie will check neighborhoods to assess sidewalk needs, road needs, housing damage, and how we can better prepare for dangerous storms. She will look at the alternatives to having above-ground wiring to limit blackouts and internet outages.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

For state relations we need an organized system where our state policy team (will be newly created) works on the hill, interfering with bills coming down the pipeline and organizing citizens to dismantle them before they even hit the news. That is the type of work I will bring to Metro. It’s time to stop playing defense and go on the offense. This is the only way Nashville wins.


FREDDIE O’CONNELL (currently District 19): Website. Nashville Scene Q&A. The Tennessee Lookout describes him as “a policy-forward progressive — not one who just reflexively leans left, but rather one who puts in the work.

Used to serve as Board Chair of Nashville Mass Transit Authority and strongly believes in implementing a meaningful transit system. On the roommate issue (see Hurt above), he voted for; he voted against installation of license plate readers.

Like Gingrich, he voted against the Titans stadium deal, which he also proposed amendments to.

He says, “Transit is a pathway to affordable housing” and favors dedicated transit funding.

In this candidate Q&A, he says, “We have to get back to prioritizing fundamental government work, like getting trash and recycling picked up on time, filling potholes, and addressing backlogged sidewalk and drainage issues if we want to bring our quality of life back to where it should be… We can immediately get to work on low-hanging fruit like community transit centers, crosstown transfers, and better coordinating construction-cased closures. We’re the last top 25 American city without a meaningful transit system, and it’s time to change that.”

On securing dedicated funding for public transit: “Metro Council member Freddie O’Connell said the public had valid concerns with the 2018 transit referendum, and he will ‘reinvest in the conversation about dedicated funding’ as mayor. ‘This is our biggest missing ingredient for the success of this city and you can count on me to lead the effort to get it done in my first term,’ said O’Connell, a former board member for the agency overseeing the city’s transit system.”

Endorsements: Bob Mendes.


ALICE ROLLI: Her website states she has served as “Assistant Commissioner of Strategy for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development where her portfolio included the Research Division, the state’s international offices, Launch-TN and the Tennessee Entertainment Commission. At the federal level she served as Special Assistant and later Campaign Manager for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, the now-retired Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the only person popularly elected both Governor and U.S. Senator for Tennessee.” She is Republican and fiscal conservative (in that same link she gives a cautious endorsement for the Titans stadium deal). Thinks we shouldn’t have turned away the RNC and favors a rewritten, simplified zoning code and more police.


VIVIAN WILHOITE: Website. Davidson County property assessor who has also been on Metro Council. Nashville Scene Q&A. Favors the city offering its vacant land to affordable housing developers and expanding I-840 so trucks avoid the Nashville loop. In this candidate Q&A she has an in-depth list of affordable housing fixes, and says we should have let the RNC come here.

On securing dedicated funding for public transit: “Sen. Heidi Campbell, At-large Council member Sharon Hurt and Assessor Vivian Wilhoite agreed. Campbell said Nashville could secure funding from federal opportunities, and Wilhoite said she’s committed to securing dedicated transit funding as part of her push for ‘economic parity’ among neighborhoods in Davidson County. Hurt reiterated her proposal for dedicated vehicle lanes for regional transit.”

Her campaign signs say, “VIVIAN MAYOR”—no last name, no date.

Endorsements: District Attorney Glenn Funk.


MATTHEW A. WILTSHIRE: His response to the state leg cutting Council in half was to blame city officials for not working with the state, which I think is disqualifying right there. Nashville Scene Q&A. WKRN Q&A.

The Tennessee Lookout described him as, “A genial and telegenic fellow who is good at summarizing issues without necessarily offering specific positions or commitments, Wiltshire is the candidate out of central casting (middle aged white male division) whose non-elective gigs in three mayoral administrations have had him rubbing elbows for years with the city’s movers and shakers.”

Supports the new Titans stadium and per the Scene, “has been christened The Chosen One by this city’s fraternity of economic development and chamber apostles.” Has sufficient personal funds to be able to loan himself $349,000.

In this candidate Q&A, he says, “In 2011, I joined the Mayor’s Office to tackle one of the biggest challenges our city had ever faced — sky high unemployment. Over the next eight years, working with three different mayors, we brought the city’s unemployment rate down from more than 8% to 2%, the lowest of any city in the country. Then, looking at the next big challenge the city was facing, I left the mayor’s office to join MDHA and work on affordable housing.” Per his website, he delivered 4,000 affordable housing units in 3 years with MDHA, Nashville’s public housing authority.


JEFF YARBRO: Website. State senator and attorney. His Tennessean profile lists his top 3 priorities as education, public safety, and livability (which encompasses housing and transit). Nashville Post Q&A. Helped pave the way for the Titans stadium. Thinks we should consider a public-private partnership for a dedicated highway lane to the airport.

The Tennessee Lookout described him: “Like Campbell, Sen. Jeff Yarbro claims that his perch in the legislature has positioned him better than most to dilute city-state toxicity, having ‘built relationships and established respect with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and inside the administration.’ And like Campbell, Yarbro seeks to put a happy face of accomplishment on the reality that Democrats can get very little done in the state house. Now in his third senate term, Yarbro sums up his time there as ‘trying to be a functional leader in a dysfunctional time.'”

On securing dedicated funding for public transit: “I believe the next referendum that the city has for dedicated funding for transit has to succeed, so I’m not going to pre-commit to rushing it, but I will commit to beginning that work and hoping to get it done in the first term.”

Vice Mayor

Incumbent Jim Shulman (below) is running against District 34 council member Angie Emery Henderson. I’m voting for: Angie Henderson.

Two candidates:

  1. ANGIE E. HENDERSON (currently District 34): Her website says she has a degree in Growth & Structure of Cities and has worked in marketing and fundraising. She’s been on Council for 8 years, so she is term-limited now.

    While on Council, she sponsored a sidewalk bill and proposed a bill to modernize curbside parking. She voted against installation of license plate readers, opposed the stadium deal, and supported eliminating minimum parking rules, saying, “We aren’t doing away with cars, this isn’t some sort of parking armageddon, but it will start to shift the local market. Land use policy is inextricably linked to climate policy.” She supports protecting Nashville’s tree canopy during development.

    Watch her give an invocation against hate and her The Tennessean interview.

    Nashville Scene Q&A: “I think there have been some concerns around how we do our committee work. We’ve been through an unusual time, and so I try to extend some grace in that regard. I don’t think that it was particularly helpful, as we first came into this term, to create five or six brand-new special committees to be chaired by folks who had just arrived at the council. You’ve got to be intentional about the knowledge that you garner over the years.”

  2. JIM SHULMAN (incumbent): Current Vice Mayor. His website says he’s on the Boards of Nashville Children’s Theatre and Nashville Sister Cities. Former CEO of Safe Haven Family Shelter, which he left in December after a workplace review about alleged “hostile behavior from Shulman to the board“. Formerly led Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

    As Vice Mayor, he’s responsible for maintaining order in Council meetings. He had a confrontation with residents regarding public comment in June 2020.

    Watch his The Tennessean interview.

Council at Large

Incumbents are Bob Mendes (not running), Sharon Hurt (running for Mayor), Burkley Allen, and Zulfat Suara.

I’m voting for: Olivia Hill, Delishia Porterfield, and Zulfat Suara because I’m excited about them, and Burkley Allen and Jeff Syracuse because they’re incumbents I like fine (I discuss this some more in Allen’s write-up below).

Don’t vote for: Chapman, Cheng, Downs, Hellwig, Ramirez, Ray, Vandivort, or Williamson.


BURKLEY ALLEN (incumbent): I’m voting for her because she’s solid and experienced, and our new Council will only have between 9 and 23 incumbents (out of 40 people), if I’m counting right. I’m not usually swayed by incumbency, but given how hostile the state government is against our city right now, I want as many people as possible who know what they are doing right out of the gate. At most 57.5% of Council will be incumbents (and realistically it’ll probably be less than half), so it’s not like this strategy will result in a lack of new ideas. I’m voting for both incumbent At-Large candidates (Allen and Suara). The District incumbents running for At-Large are Jeff Syracuse, and Delishia Porterfield, who I’m voting for, and Russ Pulley who is too far to the right for me.

Website. Nashville Scene Q&A. Voted for installation of license plate readers.


TONY CHAPMAN: Republican and born-again Christian about whom I can find very little.


CHRIS CHENG: He and his wife own Hot Sauce Nashville. His website says he’s an Army Ranger Veteran who studied Business and Public Policy at Harvard, and states, “I’m running for Metro Council to advocate for safe and sustainable infrastructure improvements, represent small and local businesses, preserve our parks and recreational spaces, and invest in our libraries and art hubs.” (I like that he has a whole section devoted to the arts.)

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so make of that what you will.


CHRIS CROFTON: Writer and musician. He wrote his advice column about Jim Shulman 3 years ago for criticizing constituents at a Metro budget meeting, and has some good stuff to say about the disparity between what we give our police force and what we give community and social services. Here he is talking at Council opposing the Titans deal and how our roads and schools are deteriorating (he clarifies his “this is socialism” comment here—apparently he thought the pro-business elements on Metro Council are Republicans?). A few more advice columns: why you shouldn’t vote for Trump; gun control; fascism and money in politics; and gerrymandering and supermajorities (“A gerrymandered supermajority shall inherit the earth.” -Satan).

This guy strikes me as a bit of crank the same way that I am a bit of a crank. He’s not temperate and would certainly make Council meetings lively, which might translate into more reporting. And I would enjoy watching him be the thorn in Jim Shulman’s side if Shulman wins Vice Mayor. For the incumbency reasons I mention above, I’m not voting for him, but he’s my most likely back-up if one of my choices drops out or has some kind of scandal in the next month.


STEPHEN DOWNS: Ran in District 7 in 2019. At that time, he was an executive secretary at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and cared a lot about sidewalks and community policing. His website says he’s a military veteran who “was educated by the likes of civil rights activist and organizer of the civil rights movement Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Dr. Rhodes, Dr. Easley and others” at American Baptist College. He also has a BS from TSU and a paralegal degree from UT Knoxville.

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so make of that what you will.


QUIN EVANS SEGALL: In attorney Evans Segall’s Nashville Post Q&A, she states she wouldn’t have voted for the Titans deal, doesn’t like the license plate readers, and has interesting ideas on expanding childcare. She co-owns a title company and has been on Nashville’s Industrial Development Board since 2018, where she actually scrutinized deals instead of being a rubber stamp. Her website includes blog posts about funding and expanding small business and minority and women-owned business grants and expanding childcare in Nashville.

I like her, I think, and in a less crowded year she might win my vote.

Evans Segall answered my email:

Hi, Joanne! Please see my responses below. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks so much, Quin

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them? The highest priority we have right now is making sure we have a livable, affordable City. That requires having a government that can proactively work to help citizens during our rapid growth. We know Nashvillians are struggling to afford housing and childcare, our schools lack needed funding, the potholes don’t get fixed, and trash doesn’t get picked up. We need a government that can be brought up to today’s standards so that it is more responsive to the needs of our residents and helps solve, not create, Nashvillians’ problems. We must create new Metro programs for needs (e.g., how to accept private money for public goods). We must update our out-of-date Metro laws and programs (such as our zoning code). We have to take a long-term view of Metro’s budget so our departments can better plan for infrastructure needs. This better Metro means more effective affordable housing incentives, capacity to pass a transit referendum, and an ability to find other solutions to our affordability issues.
  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville? With respect to transit, we need 3 things: (1) create dedicated transit funding, (2) increased crosstown connectivity and increased stop frequency for WeGo routes, and (3) a complete system of greenways, sidewalk, and bike lanes in high use and unsafe corridors. With respect to item 1, dedicated transit funding will require a referendum. For items 2 and 3, we have to fix our budgeting so we are commited to funding these solutions in a sustainable way, as well as rely on dedicated trnsit funding through a referendum.

    For housing, we have to create a dedicated office of housing. This office must work to increase communication among Metro departments so that available incentives for affordable housing are being deployed when needed. This office should also work to address updates needed in our zoning code and planning and codes departments so that we can get important, supported housing developments through planning stages more quickly. Finally, we need to use our Metro land to build housing through devleopment deals and longterm leases, since when we use our land, we can control the affordability of the housing.
  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government? If the conflict is unconsitutional, we should challenge it. But we should also work to build more bridges with other local governments in our region and throught out the state. We know that transit and housing costs are huge regional issues, and we know that despite political differences, the Middle Tennessee region is looking for solutions to these problems. If we want to prevent conflict at the state level over these issues, we need to regionalize our efforts at tackling them. It is pretty easy for the State to single out Nashville, but it is much harder to single out multiple local governments working together to solve our problems.

RONNIE E GREER, SR: Greer represented District 17 until he was term-limited, and then immediately ran for an At Large seat in 2007 (which I assume he lost, but can’t find anything about) and again in 2015, when he got 3.3% of the vote.

Remember when he called criticizing him for accepting free movie tickets against the ethics rules “an insult to even my deceased mother and father, grandmother and grandfather”? Neither do I, and it’s probably not important, but I think it’s funny.

I can’t find a website for him, or much current information.


ARNOLD HAYES: Website. He was treasurer of the referendum to establish the Community Oversight Board and Chaired the COB in 2022.

Hayes answered my email:

Good morning,

Thank you for reaching out to the candidates. My answers are in the body of this email and attached in a PDF file.

Arnold Hayes
Candidate for Council At-Large

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

    With so many issues in our city it’s hard to narrow down to one item of concern, but overall, the highest priority should be fighting for the underserved. This item speaks to people not having food to eat, a place to live, and not feeling safe, in a city of enormous wealth. Some of these are outlined in my evolving platform.

    • Fight for the underserved.
    • Push for caring prosperity.
    • Push for Affordable and Emergency Housing.
    • Help make Nashville a safer city for all.

    First, I want to convey that fighting for those on the margins, advocating for equity for all is in my DNA. My journey began in the small-town of Calhoun, Alabama, located in Lowndes County — a place previously referred to as “Bloody Lowndes” because of the overt racism and violence against African Americans to maintain segregation. In spite of this, I was raised in a relatively safe environment on my grandparents’ farm, surrounded by community, until going outside of my bubble where I witnessed “Colored” water fountains. A defining moment in my life occurred after the Selma to Montgomery March, when SNCC workers stayed in the county to assist in defending, mobilizing and registering Black voters. During this period, I attended mass meetings, and witnessed the first county African American candidates, since reconstruction, risk their lives to run for office. Faith in God is also important to my journey. Whether advocating for equity of the marginalized in the corporate world or social justice and/or police accountability in Nashville through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), NOAH, the Community Oversight Now, or the NAACP. Holistically this is what compelled me to enter the 2023 race!


    There is nothing wrong with prosperity, but it needs to be caring. Ensuring that the least of these aren’t further harmed by developers because they are only an afterthought in the negotiations. Far too many poor and working people lack the basic resources of shelter, food, and a living wage to continue to live in Nashville. Too many productive citizens are moving to surrounding counties just to make ends meet. This has to change!

    What I witnessed this past Christmas Day, made me more determined to do something to make change. Seeing hundreds of people who came to the Nashville Rescue Mission on one of the coldest days of the year, because they were left with no other choice, is one of the reasons that I am running for Council At Large. People like them and others deserve better, especially in a city of enormous wealth. Against all odds, the Rescue Mission did a great job managing this situation. However, I was so disappointed with the small portions of food that was served to the needy. This was probably the only meal of the day for most of them. I said to myself, “Who is trying to help these people?” Even though I had been contemplating a run, that day solidified my decision. The city’s dealmaking on projects like the East Bank and Titan Stadium should better ensure that those on the margins are part of the upfront negotiations and not an afterthought. I will push for a BETTER more caring Nashville!

    AFFORDABLE AND EMERGENCY HOUSING We need to continue to support the Barnes Fund as one of the ways to address long-term affordable housing. However, short-term emergency housing during the summer is often an afterthought, and needs to be reevaluated. For example, what are the minimum and maximum temperatures that have to occur before Metro emergency shelters are opened? We also, need to focus more on effective ways to measure the magnitude of the housing crisis in Nashville. Is the current data used to guesstimate the number of people without affordable or emergency housing accurate? I will push for Affordable and Emergency Housing in Nashville!


    A Safe City for All cannot be achieved in a vacuum. City and State leadership need to strive to create an environment conducive to protecting its citizens, including our children. A holistic approach will provide a fighting chance at improving public safety and at the same time could enhance the recruitment of police officers. Protecting all means all, both citizens and sworn officers.

    Let’s acknowledge that policing is a challenging job. The reality is that we have assault weapons on the street, relaxed open carry laws, and presently a lack of background checks. I submit that a toxic environment makes it much more difficult to recruit police officers. We applaud police officers for running into danger as in the case of the Covenant mass murders, but why not work on eliminating the danger in the first place. As a council At Large Member, I will work tirelessly to educate the public of the need for systemic change in reference to sensible guns laws.

    Then there is the issue of police accountability. We are entering year five of the operation of the Community Oversight Board, and it is widely acknowledged that there have been some improvements in oversight of the police. We have a MOU between MNPD and the COB. There have been significant policy improvements, like the soft empty hand control reporting.

    If we are to have a safer city for all, it is critical that the incoming mayor and Council lead the way in insisting that we support the Community Oversight Board. The problem of community trust in the police, and police accountability, want just go away.

    Nashville is yet to effectively address the issue of mental health and policing. The co-response model with the combination of police and mental health professionals was chosen instead of a community-driven model backed by seasoned advocates that centered the expertise of mental health professionals. Let’s create a Nashville where police are less likely to address increasing mental health issues. The reality is that police officers don’t want to perform the functions of social workers. So, addressing mental health helps police officers too. I will continue to push for a Safer Better Nashville, including police accountability!
  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?


    Quite frankly this is an issue that is evolving for me. As I campaign, I am being educated more on the problem. Some things are certain with respect to transit:

    • We need a holistic approach.
    • The cost to solve transit will be high
    • Transit is a regional issue.

    We need to continue to support the Barnes Fund as one of the ways to address long-term affordable housing. However, short-term emergency housing during the summer is often an afterthought, and needs to be reevaluated. For example, what are the minimum and maximum temperatures that have to occur before Metro emergency shelters are opened? We also, need to focus more on effective ways to measure the magnitude of the housing crisis in Nashville. Is the current data used to guesstimate the number of people without affordable or emergency housing accurate? I will push for Affordable and Emergency Housing in Nashville!
  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

    City government should stay alert and be prepared to push back on attacks from the state. A “deer in the headlight” approach should be avoided. The Council and Mayor could have been more proactive in protecting the people of Davidson County. Reacting to the systematic attacks by our supermajority GOP Tennessee General Assembly on the lives of Nashville and other Democratically controlled cities is not enough. There appeared to be no compressive plan to anticipate what was coming, and being prepared to push back. It is more important that we have someone in Nashville’s local and state legislative bodies that will stand up and push back on the infringement of our rights. We need to do everything possible to protect the rights of voters, Black and brown people, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ + community, and workers.


Hellwig answered my email:

Hi Joanna,

Thank you for reaching out. Sorry for the delay in returning your e-mail, but I am a campaign of one and don’t have a staff to reply on my behalf.

Here’s my responses to your questions as numbered.

  1. I see two of the biggest issues facing Nashville is Safety and Security and proper infrastructure development, or lack thereof. Crime, specifically retail theft, is on the rise and is underreported. I have seen firsthand as a victim going to court in Davidson County that the justice system often doesn’t do much to hold offenders accountable. In fact, many shoplifters know that if they do end up going to court that they will never receive any jail time – regardless of how many times they commit theft. In addition, if an individual is actually in jail, in Davidson County. they do not have to go to court if they do not want to, The Sheriff’s Office refuses to transport a person to court if they don’t want to go. As a victim this can be quite frustrating because I am subpoenaed and expected to show up, but the defendant doesn’t have to and there’s no consequences for them not to. The court will simply schedule a new future date and issue subpoenas and hope that the defendant wants to show up at that time. I have had this happen on three different occasions for the same individual for the same thefts. The case is still unresolved. Theft and organized retail crime is an everyday occurance and most citizens are simply unaware how frequent it is and how many tens of millions of dollars are being stolen every year in Nashville. This issue is largely left to go unchecked by the current judicial system in Davidson County. I would like to see more Metro officers hired and the current retail and property crime unit expanded to help better address this growing and dangerous issue in our community.

    The other big issue is infrastructure development in Nashville. I would like to see a more comprehensive short-term and long-term development plan. A plan that not only addresses the need for more roads and maintaining of them, but that also includes adding and expanding of sidewalks in our communities. Too many residential communities do not have sidewalks, so residents are left to walk in the street if they want to walk around their own neighborhood. This is not safe. I believe we need a bold, long-term infrastructure developement plan that brings the future of transportation into the present day. A plan that connects the thriving airport more easily and directly to downtown and the surrounding areas of the Nashville.
  2. I believe I addressed the transit issue above, which is sorely needed. As for affordable housing, I too struggle as a renter to find affordable housing in Nashville. Nashville is thriving and that is attracting many new businesses to move here and open businesses here and in turn new residents are moving in faster than the current housing inventory can accommodate. It is an economic issue of supply and demand. Without smaller square foot housing being allowed, this issue will only continue to persist.
  3. I see the role of Metro Council as advocating for and supporting the interests and needs of it’s community to the state legislature. As a member of Council, I should have an open and honest conversation with state legislatures and begin to build those individual and personal relationships. I strongly believe that most conflict, positive or negative, can be resolved and addressed through personal relationships. Or at the very minimum, at least one’s views and opinions can be expressed and shared.

Brian Hellwig

In a follow-up to my email, I asked if he had a website, and he referred me to his Facebook account, which lists his profession as Asset Protection Specialist at The Home Depot, and a number of recent posts are about shoplifting. It appears he repurposed his personal Facebook page for his campaign, and there’s a few videos of him goofing around with friends and a Star Wars/Bohemian Rhapsody meme which made me laugh. It’s not very robust from a campaigning viewpoint.


OLIVIA HILL: I’m voting for her because she’s a personal friend who is just an awesome person, and also because I think having a trans voice on Council will be extremely necessary as we move into a time when our relationship with the state government is particularly fraught.

Her website mentions that her honors include Vanderbilt’s Chancellor’s Heart and Soul award (2019) and LGBTQIA Advocate of the year (2020). She is the Power Plant Supervisor at Vanderbilt University, a Navy veteran, and a Board Member at Nashville LGBT Chamber. She will be a Parade Grand Marshall at Pride this year.

Edited June 22 to add: Endorsed by Register of Deeds Karen Johnson and Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.


YOLANDA HOCKETT: Her website states that she has 29 years of experience in Juvenile Corrections, raised $85,520.70 for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in district 1. She ran for Metro Council District 2 in 2019 (Kyonzté Toombs won).


HOWARD JONES: His website describes him as “a father, faith leader, and veteran school administrator” who served in the Juvenile Court System and owns Kingdom Cafe & Grill, and lists his priorities as public safety, education, and housing, with an emphasis on “the next generation, not just the next four years.”

Jones answered my email:

Thank you!

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

a.) Housing Affordability – Housing is a human right, and Howard will fight to ensure that affordable housing is truly affordable in Nashville and Davidson County. He believes we can build a city that is accommodating to all residents, whether they’ve been here for two months, two years, or two generations.

b.) Equitable Transit and Mobility – Transit accessibility can reduce housing prices, raise local business revenues, promote public safety, and increase employment opportunities for residents. A successful transit plan provides equity across racial and economic groups.

Howard will prioritize cyclist and pedestrian safety by advocating for safe bike lanes and sidewalks throughout the City, and ensure WeGo Public Transit routing decisions are made to the benefit of all residents.

c.) Equitable Education – Our schools are the heartbeat of our City and they deserve elected leaders that are personally invested in supporting their success. Our schools, our kids must always be a top priority. Howard will fight to make sure that improvements are made to our urban and suburban schools alike, making sure every student in Nashville Davidson County has an opportunity to learn in the best schools in the nation with caring, qualified teachers.

d.) Safety – Safety is a basic necessity in our city that we cannot live without. Howard knows that we must face our challenges with smart and tough leadership that attack short-term crime challenges, prioritizes our resources, focus on preventing violence and gun crime, and address the long-term roots of the crime in our City.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

With the population expected to grow and increasingly diversify, we need to urgently address the lack of affordable housing. Part of the solution will result in revising outdated zoning laws to allow for more housing options tailored to both smaller units and multi-generational dwellings. It will also mean incentivizing development along WeGo Public Transit corridors. Without sufficient available land for development, we will need to reexamine policies that hamper the redevelopment and reuse of underdeveloped land and determine if their utility is still indeed valid in today’s Nashville and Davidson County.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

To address the relationship with lawmakers, the City should engage in productive and civil discourse, communicate the potential negative consequences of the proposed changes, and advocate for a mutually beneficial solution that preserves local control and autonomy. It is also critical for the City to ensure that the voices and needs of its residents are heard and represented in any negotiation or decision-making process.

Sent from my iPhone


Edited July 3 to add: Nashville Scene < href="">Q&A was published June 30.


MARCIA MASULLA: Her website describes her as an “entrepreneur, nonprofit leader, and city-wide connector.” She built Nashville Fashion Week and is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Nashville Fashion Forward Fund. She founded the non-profit Tiny But Mighty Fund, which raises funds and awareness for animal welfare and rescue. She’s a mentor for Vanderbilt University’s Wond’ry innovation and entrepreneurship program, a member of Giving Kitchen’s Nashville Community Engagement Council, and a board member of YWCA, Inclusion Tennessee, and Arts and Business Council. You can tell she’s a millennial because there’s a g.d. video instead of a policy page. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In this candidate Q&A, she talks about having worked in the mayor’s office: “I worked in the Cooper administration first as a contractor that was focused on outreach, both incoming and outgoing. A lot of that work was focused on areas including people of color, LGBTQI+ community, small businesses, nonprofits, the arts and culture scene. It was a lot of the things I’ve been doing for years, and making sure we were bringing those people to the table. When I transitioned from a contractor to officially working for the office, I had the title of director of outreach and scheduling.”

Masulla responded to my email:

Hi Joanne,
Thank you for reaching out. I hope that you are doing well and good?
I just launched my campaign on May 1 so it’s been a flurry so apologies for the delay in response.

  1. Safe neighborhoods and schools, affordable housing, and transit options should be at the top of every candidate’s priority list. These issues are certainly at the top of mine. But they aren’t the only issues that confront our city. If elected, I will prioritize hard work and finding smart, effective options that benefit all Nashvillians. I have real-world experience in activating creative solutions to solve difficult challenges. From bringing resources to hardworking small businesses to amplifying and preserving our creative economy and artists, I have been a champion for our working class and know that our best outcomes happen when we work together to find a compromise.
  2. While Nashville’s economy and GDP are thriving, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people who have lived here for generations, people who helped grow the city, to now afford to live in the city they call home. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand solution to this problem. We need to continue to work together incrementally to find numerous solutions. First, we need to prioritize this issue and work to find an efficient pipeline to success. We need to continue investing in the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing. From long-term private and public partnerships to both incoming and established businesses, our city’s business community, like Amazon currently, can both benefit from and contribute to our city’s resources. We need to work to prioritize resources and permitting for affordable housing developers. Our city needs developers who want to be partners in the growth of our city, not just benefactors. From the Metro Planning Department, Department of Public Works, Department of Codes and Building Safety, Metro Water Services, and the Nashville Fire Department, we need to continue to expand and update our processes so they are equipped to work in symphony together. And we need to continue our efforts to maximize the Property Tax Freeze and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to benefit as many as possible. Our hardest-working Nashvillians should all have a safe, comfortable, and affordable place to call home.

    We are the only city of our size that does not currently have dedicated funding for mass transit. Our inability to solve our transit issues will continue to, both metaphorically and literally, halt our ability to move forward as a city. We must proactively invest in a transit system that allows connectivity and encourages the mobility of our city’s people. Investment in WeGo has led to innovations like QuickTicket and now riders are no longer required to carry cash and coins to use our transit network. Right now, somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of all trips we make are less than 3 miles in distance. To the extent that we can get people to take more of those trips using something other than our cars, the better our road, transit, and traffic systems will operate. We need more frequent service, dedicated lanes, more hours of operation, and continued investment in neighborhood transit centers like Hillsboro, and upcoming areas like North Nashville, East Bank, and SoBro. The more routes that don’t have to go into WeGo Central downtown, the better we’re connecting our neighborhoods and making our transit system work for its riders. Mobility for seniors is another topic that we should all be paying close attention to. Metro Social Services just identified mobility and housing as our senior population’s two areas of greatest need. The ability to get to a bus stop for some seniors is what prevents them from using a system that would be a great benefit. There are volunteer nonprofits like SeniorRide that help seniors get to the grocery store and doctor visits. We need to figure out how to extend partnerships with WeGo to make our system more accessible to seniors. We need to continue to innovate like the Mobility On Demand pilot program that offers reduced fee Ubers & Lyfts to the nearest transit station/stop. More pilots. More innovation. More smart thinking. And that starts with long overdue dedicated funding.
  3. We all lose when we don’t work together, period. I am grateful that the court upheld the rights of Davidson County voters to make decisions for themselves, but we must prioritize rebuilding this damaged relationship. The more time and resources that we spend at profound odds, the less time and resources we have to serve our constituents. The role of government should be to effectively function through practical compromise. Davidson County and the surrounding areas serve as home for more than 2 million of Tennessee’s 7 million residents. We account for more than 52,000 businesses, and a record-breaking $9 billion in visitor spending last year. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tennessee is the second fastest economic growth US state. That growth is largely based on Nashville’s contributions to the state of Tennessee. Nashville’s success is a key component of our state’s overall success, and our state legislature should be working to support our city. While should be engaging from a position of strength, we need to find a working relationship with the state legislature that benefits Nashville and all Tennesseans.

Thanks for being engaged. I hope that I can earn your vote and here’s my campaign website if you can and are able to make a contribution.

I’m for us!



DELISHIA DANIELLE PORTERFIELD (currently District 29): Metro Councilmember and special education coach Porterfield supports redirecting law enforcement resources to other purposes and was a state co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. I’m voting for her for the incumbency reasons mentioned above, and I like her progressive politics.

She also nominated Justin Jones back to his seat after his expulsion.

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Porterfield voted for. Was absent for the vote on license plate readers. She sponsored an ordinance requiring 20% of Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to go to qualified small non-profits. She serves on Education Committee (Chair), Budget and Finance Committee (Member), and Health, Hospitals and Social Services Committee (Member). She’s also President of the Minority Caucus and is involved in efforts to allow the Community Oversight Board to continue.

When she ran for TN House rep District 52 last summer (the seat Justin Jones won), The Tennessean interviewed her: she has a Master of Education in Special Education and a Tennessee State University Bachelor of Science in Africana Studies and is Director of Leadership and Advocacy for a non-profit, and supports “expanding healthcare, protecting voting rights, supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, reproductive rights and healthcare as well as improvements to our quality of life through infrastructure improvements in the district, fighting for better pay and wages for working class people and fully funding education.”


Edited July 3 to add: Nashville Post < href="">Q&A that I missed.


RUSS PULLEY (currently District 25): His website says he’s a former firefighter (Chesapeake Fire Department), police officer (Virginia Beach), State Trooper (Virginia), FBI Special Agent, and U.S. Department of Labor Investigator. His Council service includes Public Safety, Beer and Regulated Beverages Committee (Chair), Health, Hospitals and Social Services Committee (Vice Chair), and Codes, Fair and Farmers’ Market Committee (Member).

His Nashville Scene Q&A talks about why he was in favor of the Titans stadium (“For me, it came down to revenue bonds for a new stadium with potential for revenue streams that don’t come with the old one, versus general obligation bonds and there’s no telling how much money that could cost us”) and why he pushed to increase police funding in 2020 (“All the homicides we experience here in Nashville throughout the city, I just couldn’t become convinced that moving money away from the police department, putting it to these other areas, were going to help solve that problem”).

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Pulley voted against. Voted for installation of license plate readers.


GILBERT RAMIREZ: His website says he has “volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Nashville Food Pantry, Give Back to God, and more” and is “an active member of the Knights of Columbus #544 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the TN Immigrant and Minority Business Group (TIMBG), and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.” His priorities are listed as infrastructure, transportation, property taxes, education, affordable housing and Metro services and safety.

His website also says he joined the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department in 2006 and was liaison for the Hispanic/Latino and minority communities under the El Protector Program for 11 years (presumably starting in 2008). He was decommissioned in 2019 due to his allegedly charging unauthorized fees for camps for elementary and middle-school children and his promotion while in uniform of Global Fun N Food, managed by his domestic partner. I couldn’t find any follow-up on this story in the news, but he doesn’t seem to have been given the job back. He says he was innocent and left after he was outed in retaliation by the police department.

He is President of the Filipino American Association of Tennessee, Inc (this bio has him still in the El Protector program, which is confusing, but it’s his second term so I’m guessing it just hasn’t been updated since he was elected the first time).

Ramirez answered my email:

1) Affordable Housing because Nashville has been experiencing a repaid growth which has led to an increase in housing cost due to the economy and increase of prices of materials to build homes. As the population grows we will have a shortage of affordable homes for the residents of Nashville. One developer that led the increase in Affording Housing is Habitat of Humanity. This organization doesn’t need the funding of city government. They get their supplies by donation, grants, and volunteers. They could build more than forty homes per year if we prioritize their building inspection over profit developers. Traffic Congestion and Transportation infrastructures is another situation we are facing daily. We need to address these issues by improving the traffic flows by expanding the road works and adding bike lanes.

2) I have seen the issues with Transportation for years and what we need to do is to expand and improve bus service. We need to increase the frequency and coverage of routes and ensure reliable and affordable transportation options. Also, we could explore options like Monorail on the interstate to decrease the congestion of traffic flows on the major Interstate coming to Nashville during working hours and major events in downtown Nashville. We could add more buses during peak hours to decrease vehicle usage and reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of life. Finally, we add more substations throughout the city of Nashville to have connecting routes without having the buses going to the main hub in downtown Nashville. This will increase usage of buses throughout the day for the community.

When comes to Affordable Housing we need to partner with developers by providing incentives for the construction, and implementing inclusionary zoning policies that require developers to include affordable units in new projects. Work with non-profit organizations like Habitat of Humanity to build more units. They are many other options we could do but we need to act quickly and smartly.

3) When conflicts occur between a city government and a state government it depends on the issues, specific circumstances, and the legal framework in place.

The city government can take legal actions to challenge or contest actions taken by the state. This can involve filing lawsuits, seeking injunctions, or utilizing other legal measures to protect the rights and autonomy of the city. Another example is that we could engage in dialogue, arbitration, or seek third-party assistance to facilitate discussions and reach mutually beneficial solutions. We as City officials must work within the bounds of the law while we are protecting the interests of our voters and advancing the well-being of our communities.


INDRANI RAY: The Tennessean says she has a master’s in economics from Vanderbilt, previously worked for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Tenncare, is CEO and President of consulting firm Harpeth & Blair, LLC (which doesn’t have a page about her or indeed much information at all), and quotes her: “As community members, we are willing to pay taxes, taxes that are invested in the community for the growth of the people, and it is not happening.”

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so make of that what you will.


Edited July 3 to add: Nashville Post < href="">Q&A that I missed.


ZULFAT “Z” SUARA (incumbent): When she was elected to Council At-Large in 2019, “she became the first Muslim to be elected to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and the first immigrant elected to an at-large position. She is the first Muslim woman elected in the State of Tennessee and the first Nigerian woman elected to any office in the United States.” She’s on Metro Council’s Minority Caucus. She is treasurer of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

In fiscal year 2021 (2020-2021), she served as chair of the Metro Council Affordable Housing Committee.

She sponsored an ordinance requiring 20% of Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to go to qualified small non-profits. She has also worked with housing advocates and developers to reach affordable housing agreements. She advocated for implementing social-emotional learning programs in MNPS schools to address childhood traumas (like our recent floods, tornadoes and pandemic).

I’m voting for her for the incumbency reason given above for Burkley Allen, but I’d vote for her anyway. She is the kind of Council person I find exciting: progressive, thoughtful, detail-oriented, and a great communicator. On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Suara voted for. Voted against installation of license plate readers. Her website does a deep dive into her yes vote for the Titans stadium (if this issue is important to you, her whole post on it is worth reading).

Suara answered my email (note: she mentions answering late, and took 3 days to reply, which I think is fine. I did not try to retain her yellow highlighting in formatting here, instead I used italics):


Apology for the late response. I have been travelling and got back Tuesday night and my daughters high school graduation was Wednesday. So it has been a busy week. Please find my responses highlighted in yellow below

Best regards

On Sun, May 21, 2023 at 9:08 PM Joanne Merriam wrote:

Dear mayoral and council candidates,

I am a Nashville resident considering who to vote for in August. I hope that you (or your staff) can answer these questions to help me decide. I intend to share your answers online as well.

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? Housing What issues would you like to address and how will you address them? Housing, Budget Educaton

This council and mayor have added more money to affordable housing than before. The funding for Barnes fund has increased. We have a new office of homelessness with a $50M allocation. We also added a dedicated funding source of housing. Personally, I sponsored 3 bills that have a direct impact on housing. First, I sponsored a bill that directs 50% of future Oracle property taxes (subject to council approval) to Barnes Fund.

In addition, I sponsored a pilot program that provides education, outreach and attorneys for Nashvillians facing evictions. Nashvillians should not lose their home because they do not have the resources to defend their right. Finally, I sponsored a bill that mandates that 20% of Barnes fund should be given to small business. This allows us to diversify our housing inventory as well as the producers and types of housing

What I would like to do in this term if elected, is ensure that residents are aware of this opportunities/resources and take advantage of them. Second will be to continue to look for innovative ways to fund and increase housing

Metro only funds MNPS but cannot control its policy. As education chair this year. I invited the MNPS board chair and staff to the metro education committee meeting. I want to continue fully funding our schools but believe there has to be accountability, cooperation and collaboration with MNPS

I hosted budget conversations all 4 years, that breaks down the budget on Facebook. I then turn the facebook conversation into a blog/newsletter. You can view oast conversation on my facebook page or Metro You tube channel. You may also read it on my website at Over 1,000 people read my newsletter and have told me they found it useful. If elected, I would like to continue this. Communication is vital in building trust and breaking the budget in layman terms ensures our citizens understand what we are doing.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?. See above or my answers on houisng. I am not a expert on transportaion but unitl we find a long term solution, I beleive we should increase the frequency and dependability of our buses. Cosidering the cost of parking downtown, I would ride the buses if they are frequent, reiable and with extended hours

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government? To build a relationship before conflict. To try and work through ocnflict whne it arises and to fight back if all else fails. As one of the people that sued the state over council size, we must stand for our residents and repersnt them the best way possible. It has to be a balance and we must be prepare to do all three


Edited July 3 to add: Nashville Post < href="">Q&A that I missed.


JEFF SYRACUSE (currently District 15): His website says he holds a music degree from Middle Tennessee State University and an MBA from University of Phoenix. He is Associate Director of Customer Relations at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). On Council, he has served as President Pro Tempore (2019-2020) and as a member of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Parks, Library, Arts and Recreation Committee.

He lists his top issues as supporting neighborhoods, historic preservation and protecting the music ecosystem in Nashville, the intersection between transit and affordable housing, and continuing his work as President Pro Tempore in modernizing Council itself.

He was a Nashville Business Journal 40 Under 40 winner.

This summer, he’s chairing a series of hearings about gun violence and school security. On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Syracuse voted for. Voted for installation of license plate readers. Supported the stadium deal.

I’m voting for him for the incumbency reasons mentioned above.

Syracuse answered my email, after I sent it to his government email because I noticed his campaign email had bounced:

Hey Joanne, apologies I missed this! And yes indeed, my server went down, but I did get it fixed pretty quickly. Sorry about that. I’ve been inundated with emails in regards to budget, the new Music, Film, & Entertainment Commission, and then I’ve been laser focused on my three special meeting series in regards to School Safety & Gun Violence, which kicked off last Wednesday. The next one is this Wednesday 6pm at Hillsboro HS. [That was June 21–Joanne.]

I’m here catching up on emails in preparation for third and final reading of the budget tomorrow.

Here’s my answers:

  1. The highest priority I believe broadly is sustainable and inclusive growth. Nashville is a big success, but we must now double-down on efforts to ensure growth is benefiting everyone. Your next question is about transit and housing and I will go into detail in answering that question, but from a big picture perspective, sustainable and inclusive growth will come from getting those two issues correct. NashvilleNext envisioned how to do this and I still believe in it, I just don’t believe we’ve implemented the proper metrics to ensure we’re meeting our stated goals of the plan. I believe in that same regard that protecting our culture and history are a big part of ensuring we achieve balanced growth. In my 25-years here in Nashville and in the music industry, I have seen first hand how the lack of federal Copyright law evolution during the “digital revolution” has negatively impacted the working songwriter and musician in Nashville. They have been hit with a one-two punch with affordability now as well. We must ensure that our rapid growth and development stop steamrolling over the very special culture that is bringing people to Nashville in the first place. We cannot become a victim of our own success and we must work on local policy making efforts to support our working creatives just as other cities are doing. I want to help lead that effort. I also want to help leave Metro Council better than they way I found it. As elected officials, we are so focused on our jobs and districts that we don’t stop to think about ourselves as a department and how we need to invest in ourselves to meet the changing demands of the job in this rapidly growing city. It’s definitely a second full-time job and we need to focus on support of our staffing level and professional development for them as well as proper onboarding for Council Members so they can be effective and well trained on Metro government operations. I began working on this as President Pro Tempore in 2019 and I’d like to continue the work that also includes a more thoughtful layout of the second floor of the courthouse to include more accessible and transparent committee rooms that allow us to do our work. The funding for this has been secured and I’d like to complete the project.
  2. The intersection between transit and affordable housing is intrinsically linked and we need to be intentional about including both topics together as speak about solutions. In my district, I have worked to revitalize the heart of Donelson with a new library as the civic anchor of a walkable town center, across the street from a regional transit hub that could include a new FiftyForward Donelson Station with potential senior affordable housing above. Those kind of cultural, affordable, and inclusive aspects of growth are good for both long-term residents as well as new neighbors. I want to help new Council Members with understanding NashvilleNext and their particular community plans with a focus on how growth in their districts contributes to the greater needs of our city and region. To help implement solutions, we need to find more ways to incentivize the private sector as they continue to build in Nashville. MDHA and the non-profit sector seem to be contributing the greatest amount of affordable housing, but we need to find ways to also include the for-profit sector as well.
  3. While litigation is always on the table when State overreach occurs, let’s work on focusing on those bipartisan issues that we can agree on. Transit issues should be a win-win for all local municipalities and the State. We must find ways for Nashville to lead the State as opposed to us always being on the defensive to State overreach. The special three meeting series on School Safety & Gun Violence that I am leading is one such example. We need to find ways to partner with local municipalities across the State and beyond who are victims of gun violence and mass shootings to take the “rising tide lifts all boats” approach to form coalitions that can help create needed policy change. It’s a long term strategy that we must take in order to make lasting and pragmatic change occur.

Thank you, Joanne! My apologies again for the delay and my tech issues.


Jeff Syracuse
Metro Council Member, 15th District
Metro Historic Courthouse
One Public Square, Suite 204
Nashville, TN 37201


Edited July 3 to add: Nashville Post < href="">Q&A that I missed.


DELORIS “D.D.” VANDIVORT: States in her email to me that was on a school board in MO. The Tennessean says her “concerns include the ‘use and abuse of TIF districts,’ lagging infrastructure, overuse of zoning variances for new development, drug use issues related to homelessness and a lack of affordable housing for young families.”

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so make of that what you will.

Vandivort answered my email:

Thank you for being a person that cares. I hope that this helps. I am a political outsider and only want to serve the people in the community by working together. I want to serve with honesty, integrity and accountability. I have lived in Nashville for 23yrs and have been involved in different seasons of my life and now that my kids have grown and family obligations have changed I have a new season to become more involved in Nashville by taking my life experiences to do it. I don’t have a long list of community organizations because I do things for others in a more personable way, not looking for recognition from others. I’ve had a very full first half of my life and hope to have a very full second half of my life serving others.

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

    Fiscal responsibility is always the highest in any political arena. When you are taking other people’s money to spend, it should be done with honesty, integrity, and accountability. It isn’t something to take lightly, and definitely not to spend like you may your own, because when you spend your own money, it is usually for things you want and not what others may see as important. So, spending needs to be used on things to benefit all that contribute and not just the squeaky wheel or special interest. These are some areas I have in addition to what you have asked.
  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

    Again, looking at the whole picture. What the needs of each area are and as a whole to be able to compliment those already in place, to the areas of question and support a safe transition from area to area. Housing is my heart. I know that over building is a great concern to me. I like my neighborhood the way it is without adding multiple houses in the area that don’t fit the overall look and conveniences of the neighborhood. That’s why I bought where I live and also enjoy the feel of it. I know that cost is a big factor for some due to forced over assessed evaluations causing builders to only want to build here and live outside the area for profit without concerns of the existing residents. The city also needs to be throttled down on giving out variances changing the already existing overlays for these builders without true insight of these residents, and not just the recommendations of council members that have used their positions to profit also. What does affordable housing look like? That depends who you talk to, and how much they are willing to spend. Are little houses the answer? Depends how they are built and where they are. I personally live in an area where houses are 600 to 1450sqft in size. The house across the street from me is 600sqft and is being rented for $2400 a month and the average cost is $350,000 for 600sqft and goes up from there. A tiny home can cost you an extravagant amount. Homelessness is also another issue when it comes to housing. Some of those that are homeless, would like to get housing. I know that the majority that are homeless in this City, and in a lot of cities, choose to be homeless, which is a lot related to mental health, and like the ability to live off the grid and not under the conformity of society’s expectations. There is more to the eye than what most understand. Are their possibilities that houses can be built more affordable? I would like to think so. I like how habitat for humanity builds homes. May be there is a way that can be done for young families that want to live where they grew up with a different expectation of assisting and of course buying it instead of it being given to them. I would love to hear the ideas of the community.

    Transit definitely needs to be looked at. What is the appropriate type for Nashville. I have traveled extensively in the US and also abroad. There are a lot of questions from the city that needs to be answered on funding, type desired, what do the neighborhoods really want, and how can we responsibly do it. I will take everything into consideration and I do not take anything lightly when it comes to making decisions for the whole. I served on a School board in MO where I was fiscally responsible for all in the district and also had to stay within the budgeted funds that we received to meet the needs of all students with in the constraints of the local expectations and state law.
  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

    Conflict of interest or within the law? The law needs to be upheld by both. Recently I have not been pleased to see the animosity by both. There should not be overreach of either. They both need to act like professionals and be able to sit down and talk to one another and not just lash out like children in retaliation. I know there are political barriers that I have seen both push on the other. Decisions that are made due to political parties. So sad. I have seen areas become partisan which should not be. I don’t agree with school boards being set as a partisan platform and I also do not believe that area of service should be paid for their service. I don’t believe the council should turn down events due to party lines either, and that retaliation for some legislation is made due to the same. We will never all agree on everything. I know that we all have some things in common that are easily settled and some things that may have to be totally thrown out, but some differences can be accommodated with a win-win attitude.

    Fiscal responsibility of both areas is important to hold those in office with accountability. Transparency of why there is a conflict needs to be allowed to the constituency. Pettiness of control issues need to stop! Respect for all is a must. What is done by the local government also affects the state as a whole. Where should the lines be drawn are in the constitution of the state and laws within the community that should compliment one another and not cause division.

JONATHAN WILLIAMSON: His website states he is a political strategist, lifelong Nashvillian, and graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication. He chairs the NAACP Nashville committee on Communications, Press and Publicity.

He lists his top issues as public health policy, protecting Nashville arts, increasing youth engagement, and fixing the Nashville housing crisis.

Edited June 22 to add: Welp, turns out Williamson has made anti-Semitic tweets and comments.

Below are all the council district candidates. I won’t vote in any of these (I’m in District 3, where Gamble is running unopposed). I used to live in District 16. Below I present what information I could find, and endorse where I have an opinion, but I am not familiar with a lot of these candidates, so please supplement with your own research. Find out your Council District here.

Council Districts 2, 3, 12, 13, 22, 24, 26, 27, 30, 32, and 33

I’m not researching folks who are running unopposed, including Kyonzté Toombs (2), Jennifer Gamble (3), Erin Evans (12), Russ Bradford (13), Courtney Johnston (26), Robert Nash (27), Sandra Sepulveda (30), Joy Styles (32), and Antoinette Lee (33), all incumbents, and Sheri Weiner (22) and Brenda Gadd (24), who are not.

Council District 1

Incumbent is Jonathan Hall (not running). Vote for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


RUBY BAKER: Her website has a list of accomplishments, including serving on Metro Nashville Speed Limit Reduction Committee and HUBNashville Steering Committee, and being President of Bordeaux Hills Disaster Relief Fund, Inc. during the 2010 flood.

She also ran for this seat in 2018 and 2015 so longtime district residents will be familiar with her even though I am not.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Baker, a longtime neighborhood association leader in Bordeaux Hills who previously ran for the seat in 2015 and 2018, says, “The community wants someone committed, dedicated and stable,” referencing her decades of work for the state.


SEAN DAILEY: His website says he has a BA in Political Science from UT Knoxville and an MA in Civic Leadership from Lipscomb, served in the TN Army National Guard, and is a workforce development committee member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Middle TN, and lists his top priorities as affordable housing, education, criminal justice reform, local business support, and environmental protection.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Dailey says the next councilmember should treat the district’s natural beauty and open space as a feature. “My vision for District 1 would be to realize those assets and develop them while conserving them,” he says. “If you don’t recognize them as an asset, when this sprawl starts to happen in District 1 as it has in other neighborhoods, you’re going to lose the very thing that makes District 1 great. We have an opportunity to get it right and be one of the best districts in terms of conservation, in terms of being an affordable place for people to live.”

Dailey answered my email:

Hi Joanne, it’s a pleasure to hear from you. I’m so glad you reached out to me and I hope the below answers are helpful in making a decision about which candidate(s) in the upcoming election best represent you. In addition to my responses to your questions, please visit the website [] for more information about our campaign. Also, don’t hesitate to provide your feedback and perspectives to help me understand your positions as well. I’d love to create an open dialog with you and others like yourself to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

As a candidate for the Metro Council in Nashville, I believe the highest priority for our city right now is addressing the affordable housing crisis and ensuring that all residents have access to safe and affordable housing. This issue affects individuals and families from all walks of life and has far-reaching consequences for our community’s well-being.

To address this issue, I propose a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, I would advocate for the allocation of resources toward the development of affordable housing units across the city. This can be achieved through partnerships with developers, incentivizing affordable housing construction, and exploring innovative financing options.

Additionally, I would work towards implementing policies that protect tenants’ rights and prevent unjust evictions. This includes advocating for stronger rent control measures and promoting affordable housing preservation so that existing affordable units are not lost due to redevelopment or rising rents.

Furthermore, I believe it is crucial to engage in community outreach and involve residents in the decision-making process. I would establish forums and platforms where community members can voice their concerns and ideas regarding affordable housing. By actively seeking input from those directly affected, we can develop targeted solutions that truly address the needs of our diverse population.

Lastly, I would prioritize collaboration with other city departments, nonprofit organizations, and private entities to maximize the impact of our efforts. By fostering partnerships, we can leverage additional resources, expertise, and funding to accelerate the progress toward resolving the affordable housing crisis.

In summary, the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now is addressing the affordable housing crisis. Through a comprehensive approach that includes the development of affordable housing units, tenant protections, community engagement, and strategic partnerships, we can work towards ensuring that all residents have access to safe and affordable housing. Together, we can create a more equitable and thriving Nashville for everyone.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

My position on the housing crisis in Nashville is detailed in the previous question, and I appreciate your focus on such a critical issue. With regard to transit, I recognize that improving our city’s transportation infrastructure is crucial for the overall well-being and prosperity of our community. I believe in developing a comprehensive and sustainable approach to address transit issues effectively.

Firstly, I would focus on expanding and enhancing our public transportation system. This includes investing in the expansion of bus routes and frequency, ensuring reliable and convenient service for residents across all neighborhoods. I will work towards increasing the number of buses and implementing smart technologies to improve efficiency and reduce wait times.

Additionally, I would prioritize the development of a robust and interconnected network of bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly pathways. By investing in alternative modes of transportation, we can reduce traffic congestion, promote active lifestyles, and create a more sustainable city. I will collaborate with city planners, transportation experts, and community stakeholders to identify key areas for improvement and implement strategic solutions.

Furthermore, I strongly support the exploration of innovative transit options such as light rail, streetcars, and ridesharing programs. These options can provide efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to car usage. I will actively seek out funding opportunities, engage with relevant stakeholders, and work towards implementing feasible and sustainable transit projects.

In order to address transit issues effectively, it is essential to engage the community and gather input from residents. I will hold town hall meetings, establish advisory committees, and utilize online platforms to ensure that the voices of Nashvillians are heard in the decision-making process. By involving the public, we can better understand their needs and preferences, and tailor our transit initiatives accordingly.

Lastly, I believe in the importance of collaboration between the Metro Council, transportation agencies, and private sector partners. By working together, we can leverage resources and expertise to develop innovative solutions and fund large-scale projects. I will actively seek out partnerships and explore funding opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

When it comes to conflicts between the city government and the state government, I firmly believe that the role of the city government is to advocate for the best interests of Nashville and its residents. While both levels of government have their respective roles and responsibilities, it is essential for the city government to assert its autonomy and act in the best interest of our local community.

In the face of conflicts, it is crucial for city leaders to engage in open and constructive dialogue with state officials, seeking common ground and working towards mutually beneficial solutions. I believe in fostering strong relationships and effective communication channels between the city and state governments to address conflicts in a productive manner.

However, if the interests and priorities of the state government directly contradict the needs and values of our city, it becomes imperative for the city government to defend the rights and welfare of Nashville’s residents. This may involve challenging or opposing state actions through legal means, advocating for legislative changes, or utilizing public platforms to raise awareness and rally support.

Furthermore, it is essential for the city government to collaborate with other local municipalities and advocacy groups facing similar conflicts. By forming coalitions and working together, we can amplify our voices and create a stronger collective impact.

It is important to note that maintaining a productive working relationship with the state government is crucial for securing funding, resources, and support for our city’s initiatives. Therefore, while advocating for Nashville’s interests, it is also necessary to seek common ground and collaborate on issues where alignment can be achieved.

All the best,
Sean Dailey
Leadership| Integrity | Courage
District 1 Candidate for Council


ROB HARRIS: His website says that he “worked his way up from an intern to the Mayor’s Office, serving as the mayor’s city council liaison.” He has a bachelor’s in business administration and finance and a master’s in business administration and supply chain management. His wife is a Metro teacher.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Harris, another contender, says his experience “in the backroom meetings” as Mayor John Cooper’s liaison to the Metro Council prior to this current job has helped prepare him to serve on the council. … Harris wants to work on infrastructure in Joelton (a priority mentioned by Baker, too), bring new private- or public-sector tenants to a city-owned former hospital and assisted living campus in the district, and attract limited development to the district’s busiest corridors while limiting growth in other areas.


JOY SMITH KIMBROUGH: An attorney. She also ran for Tennessee 20th Judicial District Criminal Court Division II as a Democrat in 2018 (the incumbent won). A Tribune feature says she has a Bachelors in Chemistry from TSU, a Masters of Science, and a law degree; she clerked for the Honorable Robert Rigsby in Washington and interned for the TN AG; she’s now a Civil Rights Attorney and “ferocious advocate for social justice” who helped get us a Community Oversight Board. I can’t find her website if she has one.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Kimbrough, who as an attorney has represented the families of Nashvillians killed by police officers, jumped in the race just a few days before the qualifying deadline. “It was truly the last minute,” she says. “I had been trying to recruit people to run. … I couldn’t really get anybody to do it. I saw one of [the other candidates] in a picture with a developer. It sparked something in me. It was that quick.”


TIMOTHY THOMPSON: I can find a lot of Tim Thompsons in Nashville but not any who talk about running for council.

The Nashville Scene story on this race doesn’t mention Thompson, so I am guessing he didn’t respond to their calls.

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so make of that what you will.

Council District 4

Incumbent is Robert Swope (not running). Vote for: Sullivan or Cortese.


DAVETTE BLALOCK: She was a Republican candidate for the TN House in 2016. I can’t find any mention of her party affiliation on her website, which says she’s “a strong advocate for responsible development, traffic calming, and a government that works for the people” and says she’s been endorsed by Robert Nash, Randy Foster, and Robert Swope. She has already served two terms on Metro Council, so she ought to be term-limited, but they redrew the district maps in the interim (and maybe being term-limited lapses? I dunno).

The Nashville Scene story on this race: Blalock says traffic is the biggest issue in the district, and relatedly, one of her top goals going into office is to create a roundabout on Edmondson Pike. She also wants a park on Edmondson Pike and Clover Lane. During her first term in office, she put the brakes on zoning that allowed for more than two units on a property — halting tall-and-skinnies.

Blalock answered my email:

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

Nashville needs to get the flow of its departments working efficiently. We need to fully fund our police, fire and education departments. I will go into the departments and look for ways to help processes streamline and be more cost effective. I will always support our metro employees to have a higher or compatible wage as other cities our size.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

I will bring builders and non-profits together to look for solutions while increasing the Barnes Fund. We can also increase the maximum amount of earnings to get the elderly tax freeze. As for transit, I support bikes and the sort where wanted and needed. Safe walking spaces for close neighborhoods. But for the main transit issues we need to look into all the latest technologies to think outside the box to make our traffic not as congested. I will work with TDOT to better accommodate buses or the like on state roads.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

The council has the right to voice their opinion as a whole. I believe communication between the two bodies is a must. I vow to bring both together with meetings to discuss certain topics and to alleviate confrontational personalities.

Davette Blalock
Broker, Blalock Realty Group


MIKE CORTESE: His website says he’s an Adjunct Professor at Belmont University and an Opportunity Development Manager at Dell Technologies. (It also mentions his family has two dogs, but there are no pictures of the dogs, to my disappointment.) I appreciate that he lists mental health as a priority but am disappointed that his page on education has no specifics.

The Nashville Scene story on this race indicates he’s trying to run as the centrist peacemaker Adult In The Room: “I have people who voted for Donald Trump twice with my signs in their yard, and I have people who voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden with my signs in their yard,” Cortese says. “I believe that’s a place where I can really shine.”

Cortese answered my email:


Thank you for reaching out. Here are some responses to your questions. Feel free to reach out again if you would like to discuss any of these further. Have a great evening!

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

  • Keeping Nashville Affordable
  • Creating a Better Quality of Life for Residents: Reinvesting revenue from downtown back into our communities: Road upgrades, sidewalks, greenspaces, community services, etc.

Those are two pillars of my campaign, but they are not possible unless there is a strong and consistent dialogue between our communities and the local government. I have a plan to make sure our community is engaged and informed. Please see the resident engagement section on my website.

I am happy to dive deeper into this section and explain how I will utilize my professional experiences in entertainment, higher education, tech, and working with a start-up to implement these ideas and bring value to our community. Just let me know if you’d like to meet for coffee or jump on a call.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

TRANSIT: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and the city had a robust public transportation system. My Aunt, who lived 1 borough away from us, suffered from schizophrenia and did not have a driver’s license. It was because of public transportation that she was able to be a productive member of society. For her entire career she took 1 trolley and 2 buses to work everyday.

The public transportation system in Pittsburgh also created huge economic opportunities for businesses and communities of all sizes. Residents who did not have access to a vehicle were able to gain employment downtown, in the suburbs, and in the surrounding urban areas, all because of the robust system that was in place.

I have been in Nashville for 22 years and I have seen the gridlock get worse by the day. I am committed to helping city leadership create a robust but fiscally responsible transit system. We have to get a plan moving soon as the growth in Nashville is projected to continue for the next decade and beyond. I shudder when I think of a Nashville that is significantly more populated, without a suitable public transit system to ease the gridlock.

HOUSING: In the 70s a blue collar worker could feed a family, buy a house, go on vacation each year, and send his/her kids to college working 40 hours a week. That is not the reality anymore and it is a result of policy choices made over the past 4 decades.

We have to find a solution. Nashville’s future depends on it.

I will work to bring all stakeholders together to find a path forward that gives young Nashvillans the same opportunities to build wealth that previous generations had. There are many creative programs and policy solutions available to us, but to find the best solutions for Nashville specifically, we will need representatives for all stakeholders at the table talking.

NOTE: Nashville is very attractive to tourists and major corporations. I believe we can leverage those two assets to reduce the overall tax burden on residents when it comes to implementing solutions for these two problems. You can also find more information at my website regarding policy ideas to help keep Nashville more affordable for current residents.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

I think the overreach by the state legislature is an attack on every Tennessean’s rights. The legislature holds more power than the city government so we have to be strategic and very consistent in our efforts to protect our rights. Here are our 3 main assets:

  1. Build a Case: We have to make a more convincing case to voters across Tennessee. We need to show them how the legislature’s overreach is an attack on their rights and civil liberties. It cannot only be a Nashville issue. Voters in every county of Tennessee have to understand that any Government overreach is an assault on their freedoms as well. They have to feel it and be able to relate it to their personal situation. Once Tennesseans feel that attack viscerally the legislature will have no choice but to pull back or be voted out of office.
  2. Beat Them in Court: We have to challenge them in the courts whenever possible. Every loss we add to the legislature’s scorecard will fuel the case we are making on the communication front.
  3. Consistently Show Up: We have to engage every time the legislature steps over the line. The more voices we have the easier it will be to show other Tennesseans the dangers in letting the legislature run over resident’s rights and civil liberties.

Mike Cortese


BRIAN SULLIVAN: His website says he’s the CEO of Sully Public Relations and on the boards of Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and Covenant of the Cross Ministries, and is the Davidson County Co-Chair for Tennessee Equality Project. His issues page lists public safety, health, DEI (“Strong City Council leadership that stands up to the state when they attempt to reduce our council size or pass discriminatory laws that affect our residents”), education, and development.

The Nashville Scene story on this race: Brian Sullivan, a former journalist and current PR agent, says street racing is a big issue in the area — something Swope has also spoken against recently. He wants to encourage area businesses to be part of the Safe Bar program to combat drugging in bars, and wants naloxone distribution to become ubiquitous. Sullivan is involved in the nonprofit world, and hopes to see the council replace some of the American Rescue Act funding set to run out for organizations like the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition in 2024.

Sullivan answered my email:

Joanne! I am SO SORRY for the delay. My top priorities:

  1. Street racing/speeding is a big problem for residents in my district, and many complain about hearing it at all hours of the night. So, that’s one.
  2. Ensuring that Council stays the course in challenging unconstitutional and discriminatory overreach by the state to protect our city council, our boards, and our marginalized communities.
  3. Safety and funding for community initiatives that currently have their funding at risk, such as Nashville Cares and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
  4. Proposing a charter amendment so that council has the ability to propose an override vote when the Benefit Board makes decisions we feel are unfair to Metro retirees who were promised certain benefits and healthcare providers, and in situations in which we feel necessary medical coverage isn’t being provided to Metro employees/retirees.

I hope this helps. Please reach out if you have any additional questions! You can also find me here:

Twitter: @Sully4Nashville
Instagram: @Sully4Nashville
TikTok: @Sully4Nashville

Council District 5

Incumbent is Sean Parker (below). Vote for: Sean Parker.


TERRI LAINE KLINGNER: I can find very little about this candidate, but the Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so make of that what you will.


SEAN PARKER (incumbent): I endorse him for the incumbency issue mentioned in Burkley Allen’s write-up above, but I also like him.

The Nashville Post talked to him in 2021 about development, the Oracle campus and Dickerson Road: “One of the major roadblocks is the current configuration of Dickerson Road. Stringent sidewalk guidelines for new development have led to parcel-by-parcel improvements, and additional sidewalk work is slowly progressing. The WeGo No. 23 is already one of the most popular bus lines in Nashville. I’m hopeful the state will continue working with us to improve safety and transit on Dickerson (which is a Tennessee Department of Transportation road).”

His Facebook‘s most recent post is from Monday, offering help with a chainsaw for those affected by downed trees. His Twitter is more active.

Sean Parker proposed an amendment that increases the number of unrelated people who may live together to 4 in a house with 3 bedrooms or less, and 5 in a house with 4 or more bedrooms (which made my living situation—4 unrelated adults in a 4-bedroom house—no longer illegal). He has also worked with housing advocates and developers to reach affordable housing agreements.

Voted against installation of license plate readers. He advocated for implementing social-emotional learning programs in MNPS schools to address childhood traumas (like our recent floods, tornadoes and pandemic). He sponsored a bill in autumn 2020 to allow increased outdoor restaurant seating.

Council District 6

Incumbent is Brett Withers (not running). Vote for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


CLAY CAPP: His website. He’s a public defender and formerly served as legal director for the Tennessee Justice Center.

Nashville Scene story on this race: “Capp, a public defender who grew up in Nashville and formerly served as legal director for the Tennessee Justice Center, says his top campaign priority is protecting and funding Nashville’s public schools. But he sees a necessary fight on the horizon as the Tennessee General Assembly attacks reproductive health care access, LGBTQ rights and Nashville’s ability to self-govern. Capp says he’s prepared for that fight because he advocates for clients every day in the courtroom.”


BRANDES B. HOLCOMB: He’s a family attorney with Martin Sir & Associates and volunteers at Room In The Inn.

Nashville Scene story on this race: “Brandes Holcomb says he’s seen East Nashville transform through the two decades he’s lived there. He lags significantly behind in funding and name recognition and does not have a campaign website, but says his top priority is making it easier for residents to understand what’s behind the decisions that shape their neighborhood.”


DANIEL MCDONELL: His website. He’s an urban planner.

Nashville Scene story on this race: “Memphis native McDonell has held a variety of transit-focused roles since moving to Nashville in 2012 and currently manages the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Planning Office. He says he likes to ‘nerd out’ over how to make intersections safer, develop new solutions for commuting and secure the best funding for infrastructure projects around the city and state.”

Council District 7

Incumbent is Emily Benedict (below). Vote for: Emily Benedict.


EMILY BENEDICT (incumbent): Her website says she works in real estate and, through the Greater Nashville Realtor Association, serves on the Affordable Housing Committee. She has been on the boards of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Pride, and the Tri-State Minority Supplier Development Council. In Council, she sits on the Budget & Finance, Health, Hospitals, and Social Services, Public Works, and Planning, Zoning, and Historical Committees.

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Benedict sponsored and voted for. Voted against installation of license plate readers.

For comparison with the only information I could find about Danny Williams (below), she answered this 2019 survey:

On metro budget: Our values are affirmed by the way we educate, compensate, house, and transport our residents. We need to improve our schools, pay our employees a living wage, provide options for attainable housing, and invest in a transportation system that will meet our future needs. It takes tax dollars to accomplish these things. We must explore the NCCA reserves, and make sure developers pay their fair share, in addition to a review of a tax increase.

On education: Our school board decides what to do with their budget; my role on the council will be to provide enough money so they can provide wage increases to our teachers, bus drivers, and support staff, in addition to having enough money for operational supplies like textbooks for all students. We cannot attract and retain talent without a robust compensation package. I support a 10 percent raise for our teachers and at least $15 per hour for staff.

On housing: I’d like density growth mainly along and adjacent to our corridor streets. Currently there is zoning that allows more density in areas that do not have the bandwidth for the type of growth we have seen. The Barnes Fund has been effective, and we must keep funding it so non-profit organizations can continue to build more affordable units. This is a wage issue too. I will fight to increase wages for our public employees.


DANNY WILLIAMS: I can’t find a website for this candidate.

Williams ran against Nancy VanReece for Council in 2019, when he answered this survey:

On metro budget: Raising Property taxes seems to be the ONLY answer everyone comes up with, yes I agree that SCHOOLS and PUBLIC SAFETY are things necessary for more funding. I would like to see an audit of the city’s financial structure and see what our tax dollars are being used for when these above aforementioned should be a priority. I would like to research other funding measures.

On education: The cost of education in the county has become a problem that needs to be addressed. I have ideas for funding, but would like to explore the government’s treasury and what is being paid out now. From what I have observed, frivolous spending seems to be the norm for this current council and administration.

On housing: I feel that the government should research along with developers who want the same to help many of our citizens. Scout areas for development, perhaps working with neighboring counties to address this problem. Right now it appears that many developers and investors are in it just for profit, not helping less fortunate residents.

Council District 8

Incumbent is Nancy VanReece (not running). Vote for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


MARTEZ COLEMAN: He doesn’t seem to have a website but has a campaign Facebook with a lot of photos. He also ran in 2019.


DEONTE HARRELL: I can’t find a website but he has a Linked In which says he’s a realtor and “Beautification Commissioner” with “experience in data analysis, payment integrity, audit coordination, & team coordination.”

Council District 9

Incumbent is Tonya Hancock (below). Vote for: Stephanie Montenegro.


TONYA HANCOCK (incumbent): Her website says she’s on the Council committees for Education, Government Operations and Regulations, and Rules, Confirmations, and Public Elections.

I know I’m saying vote incumbent in a lot of other races, but that’s in service to having a Council that can hit the ground running opposing whatever new shenanigans the state government decides to throw at us. Hancock voted against the resolution to oppose halving Council’s size. She also voted against the RNC coming to Nashville—but “not for political reasons, she said.” I don’t think my incumbency reasoning necessarily applies here.

She co-sponsored legislation to “improve energy efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of building design and construction and strengthen home construction requirements for tornado resistance.” On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), to my dismay, she voted against. Voted for installation of license plate readers.


STEPHANIE MONTENEGRO: Her website says she was born in Colombia and moved to Nashville at age 10. She was a Parent Outreach Translator for Metro Schools, and is now a paralegal. She lives with her wife, two children and two rescue dogs (no photos of the dogs though).

Her priorities are Madison-focused housing and development (“Nashville is currently facing a Housing Crisis and it is imperative that we continue to invest in affordable housing and incentivize development that prioritizes the well-being of residents.”), safer and better streets (“We can save lives by ensuring all crosswalks are properly marked, installing bus shelters, and implementing effective traffic calming measures. Madison deserves connectivity into our current WeGo infrastructure…”), and fully-funded schools (“I will work with the School Board and other council members to increase teacher and support staff pay, which in turn, will reduce our teacher shortage and ensure proper student-to-teacher ratio in the classroom.”)

Council District 10

Incumbent is Zach Young (below). Vote for: Zach Young.


JENNIFER FRENSLEY WEBB: Her website says her family owned Bob Frensley Ford, and she owns a construction company with her husband. It doesn’t have an issues page, which after looking at a gawdzillion campaign websites I am seeing as a red flag for “potential stealth Republican.” The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so make of that what you will.

Webb answered my email:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to share with you .

  1. Public safety- Getting our fire department the much needed equipment , resources and firehouses to serve the Nashville residents.
  2. Housing issues – make affordable housing be a part of all negotiations or Metro has to invest . I do not have details but I know Metro owns a lot of properties and a lot of those properties are losing value as they sit unused/maybe propose a plan using these resources for the homeless.
    Transit issues- I would research other cities our size and see what has worked from them and then implement a 3 year. 5 year and 10 year plan that works with Nashville’s growth .
  3. I feel is it the responsibility of those that are elected to serve to put aside their individual desires and work for what is best for the District they represent and the city they serve.

Thank you
Jennifer Frensley Webb


ZACH YOUNG (incumbent): His website

He is the lead sponsor of the Fairgrounds Speedway bill. On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Young was absent that meeting. Voted for installation of license plate readers.

Council District 11

Incumbent is Larry H. Hagar (not running). Vote for: Eric Patton.


JOE DELUCAS: His website says he’s lived in Nashville since 2018, is a poet and musician and has “over 25 years in retail/restaurant management”. It’s a bit of a Web 1.0 rambling nightmare to read (especially the page that’s black on dark green) but his main issues seem to be homelessness and a feeling that Larry Hagar did nothing and he is fed up.

DeLucas answered my email:

Hi Joanne,

Thank You for reaching out

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

I don’t know that there is a “higher” priority, so to speak, as they all are equally important but I am running on.

-Curbing overpopulation and unnecessary destruction of our “Green areas” for homes

This can be accomplished by simply denying building permits.

-Fixing the roads from the crater like potholes at every turn. We can create street maps with the severity of issues and budget properly to fix them.

– Lowering crime by working with local police for a higher presence of officers trained in de-escalation not force.

-Eliminating the homeless camps by identifying the root cause of why they are homeless and assisting them in finding the help they need to not be homeless. Whether that’s helping them find a job, seek medical help etc. Kicking the homeless out of a camp doesn’t solve anything it just moves the issue to a different location.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

Joanne I’m not sure what you mean by Transit and Housing issues so if I answer this incorrectly please let me know and give me clarity on your question.

I spoke on this briefly at the Nan Candidate Forum Saturday Morning, where out of the 4 people that pulled petitions to run for council in District 11 I was the only one to bother to show up.

We discussed unaffordable housing. I stated the problem is we, as a city, are issuing permits to builders to tear out our wooded areas and build several hundred $400 -$500 thousand dollar homes.

When all that is being built are unaffordable homes those homes will always be unaffordable to the average Nashvillian. We, as a government, need to regulate the builders and fluctuate our approval of the building permits between lower income housing and the middle and upper tier housing.

For transit I’m unclear if you mean the traffic situation or public transportation.

Unfortunately Nashville got itself into the traffic mess by continuing to build and bring in new locals without a clear plan to widen roads, build other routes etc. I want to investigate these options and work on a clear plan to rectify the situation but the building of new routes will take years to complete. We need resolution now and I’m not sure it’s possible. If you have suggestions please let me know.

I want to hear from you


3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

Joanne I love this question because the root cause of conflict is “ego” and retaliation to that ego. In this case city government did something state government didn’t like so they retaliated. The only way to bridge that gap is open minded, ego free, dialog. Listen to each other without an “I’m right no I’m right response” and find common ground to solve the problem.

I hope these responses help you clarify what you’re looking for.

I can always be reached at this email address but you can learn more about me on my website

It’s still under construction, as I’m building it myself, but the Meet Joe, Why I’m Running and Donate tabs are live and ready to view/use.

This is my first time running for office and after seeing the neglect and under-representation District 11 was receiving I felt compelled to run. I’m not doing this for ME, I’m doing this because WE need it.

Someone needs to take the power back and the politics out of politics

Thank You So Much For Reaching Out To Me

Joe DeLucas

Candidate Davidson County City Council District 11


SHERARD EDINGTON: His website indicates that he is endorsed by incumbent Larry Hagar and Rep. Darren Jernigan. The website is pretty sparse and doesn’t have an “about me” or “issues” page but at least it has a nice dog picture.

His Facebook also lists as supporters Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, Council Member Kevin Rhoten, and former Council Members Phil Ponder, Feller Brown, and Justin Johnson.


JEFF ESLICK: His website indicates his top three priorities are safety (“Nashville’s police force has been recognized for outstanding performances in recent extreme situations. We should use this positive momentum to hire new recruits, while retaining our experienced officers and add better protection to our schools.” – note this is referencing the Covenant School shooting and the Republican idea that adding more guns and police to schools is the answer), Nashville’s growth (“Managing and making space for new construction should be done with respect for current residents and neighborhoods.”), and homeless encampments (“It seems for every encampment that is closed, several new ones pop up. Letting the encampments continue to grow isn’t healthy for the people living in them or the residents living near them.”).

His website doesn’t say he’s a Republican, but he talks like one, and the Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so draw your own conclusions.


ERIC A. PATTON: His website says his top priorities are schools, services, and small businesses (and his about page has a dog picture! Doing campaigning right.) He says, “Enough talk of skylines and stadiums. It’s time we pull focus back to where it belongs – the people who live in Nashville!” but then there are no specifics at all about how he wants to address any of this. (His Twitter does have a campaign ad.) Luckily, to answer that, Patton answered my email:


Thanks for reaching out. Let me do my best to answer.

1- My platform is more support for schools, services, and small businesses.

We need to support teachers better. I also want to shift more to a community school system that provides more services to the families that school serves.

We need better infrastructure and to bring focus to our everyday needs and stop worrying about skylines and stadiums. Transit that’s real and makes sense. Incentives for builders and property managers to build and rent affordable homes. Making it easier for folks who make $70K and less not have to have three roommates to make rent. And build more entry level and workforce housing that won’t just get sucked up by the short term rental market.

And while we’re going to continue to grow, we need to prioritize the businesses that are already here. Making sure they get higher consideration in the bidding process and making sure that small businesses have what they need to succeed while ensuring they are being good neighbors where they’re planted.

2- That’s definitely part of the services section. The biggest reason I chose Old Hickory Village where I live was because it was in my price range. It also had the best amenities in my price range – I mean have you seen our views over here?! But OHV is a model for the rest of the city. You’ll have to increase density in other places, but keeping houses affordable and making sure you can get to town in a reasonable amount of time is how you’re going to have to move forward if we’re going to be a city that has working class people (like me) in it.

3-People are talking at each other. Not to each other. It’s happening everywhere. The state government overreach has got to end. The attacks against the LGBTQ community have got to end. The attacks against reproductive and gynecological health has got to end. It’s bad for citizens. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for everyone. We all lose when we stop talking to each other. We can go to table and disagree, but come to terms with things that will help folks. Like expanding healthcare and raising what they give to education. Folks aren’t talking to each other. That’s got to change. If the state overreaches, Nashville should file lawsuits. But we also need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to work with who we can work with and support bettee candidates in districts with divisive, awful incumbents.

Does that answer your questions? Let me know if you want to chat further.

Eric A. Patton

Council District 14

Incumbent is Kevin Rhoten (not running). Vote for: Jordan Huffman.


JORDAN HUFFMAN: His website says he’s an ETSU grad who works in healthcare technology. “He has also served as President and Vice-President of the Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Alliance and is currently serving on Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s Board of Directors and the MNPD Community Advisory Board for the Hermitage Precinct.” His involvement in the DHNA means he has experience with hurricane clean-up. He also “led the effort to organize the first Christmas Tree lighting in Hermitage by planting a community Christmas tree in front of the Hermitage Library.”

He has a long list of prioties with specifics like: “I will also work to make data from HUB Nashville more proactive by analyzing high traffic litter areas in order to combat this ongoing problem.” ; “Increase compensation rates for MNDP officers so that we can recruit and retain top talent.” ; “Increasing the amount of protected bike lanes will continue to offer residents safer options to get from point A to point B without having to walk or drive.” ; “We can begin to work towards solving this problem by expanding the Metro Nashville Homeless Impact Division.” ; “My vision for our community involves the creation of a “Downtown Hermitage” that would be located in the area surrounding the Hermitage Library, MNPD Hermitage Precinct and Hermitage Community Center.”

Edited June 18 to endorse him and add: endorsed by councilmember Russ Bradford (for whom he used to be campaign manager), Nashville Launch Pad‘s H.G. Stovall, Rep. Darren Jernigan, councilmember Kevin Rhoten, and civil rights icon Vencen Horsley.

Huffman answered my email:

Good morning Joanne,

Thanks for reaching out. Please see my answers below in blue. [Note: I didn’t try to replicate his blue text.]

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

Our city faces numerous challenges that are all important. I have included the top three issues that I am focused on for my race in District 14.

  • Our growing homelessness crisis is the biggest issue in Hermitage due to it’s urgency: While there is no easy solution, there are things that we can do in the short-term to begin to remedy this situation.

    – We must first bring all key parties (churches, non-profits, community groups, etc) who are working in some form to address different aspects of this crisis together in order to get everyone at the table. It is Metro’s responsibility to lead this effort and to get everyone on the same page so that we can coordinate a proactive plan of attack that addresses the short and long-term needs of our homeless population. There is currently little to no coordiation between all entities that are working to solve different aspects of this growing issue.

    – Increase substance abuse and mental health services. Many members of our homeless population suffer from one or both of these problems. I have spent quite a bit of time in the Hermitage homeless camps and can verify this personally. A substantial chunk of the $50 million in federal funding that Metro Nashville received should be allocated to these services.

    – Increase housing options for our homeless population. It is estimated that we will need at least 600 permanent supportive housing beds over the next five years in order to support our chronically homeless population. We broke ground last year on a $25 million dollar facility on 2nd Ave that will have 90 residential units. Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in renovating properties currently owned by Metro such as nursing homes, warehouses and other large structures? We must look at options such as this in order to maintain a level of fiscal responsibility while also continuing to provide adequate housing options for this vulnerable population.
  • Addressing our cities crippling infrastructure: Additional sidewalks, protected crosswalks/bike lanes, road repair, funding for our schools in dire need of repair, stormwater issues, expanding transit options, increased green space, etc. Our city must prioritize pedestrian infrastructure moving forward ASAP. We do not have a choice simply because it is a safety issue to our residents and visitors to our city. Over 50 pedestrians lost their lives just last year due to inadequate walking options.

    There are things that we can do now such as:

    – Setting a goal to more than double the overall percentage of Nashville roads with sidewalks in the next 5 years. We are currently sitting at around 19%. I would propose we set the goal at 50%. We then can tier streets based on variables such as pedestrian accidents, fatalities, daily automobile totals on the road in question, etc. We can then create a tiered prioritization list that allows us to proactively solve our sidewalk crisis and prevent more unnecessary deaths in our communities.

    – Conduct a study on the most dangerous intersections in Metro Nashville and implement a formal pedestrian traffic study in order to implement the safest pedestrian crossing design possible.

    – Implement more bike lanes throughout our city. This will dramatically increase the risk of pedestrians and bikers getting into accidents.
  • Controlling incoming development in a responsible manner: I will always prioritize the needs of District 14’s neighborhoods. If a developer wants to build in D14, they will need to present a plan to me that shows how their project will benefit the community. That is non-negotiable.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?


Long Term

We owe it to the citizens of Nashville to create new revenue streams specifically dedicated to funding transit solutions. Doing so through a tax at the expense of tourists is the most viable option in my opinion. Our city has established itself as one of the most sought after travel locations in the country and that will not slow down anytime soon. We must take advantage of this opportunity in order to increase transit options. Specifically, we need to fund a light-rail. This venture will cost several billion dollars over the course of many years. The quicker we can dedicate a revenue stream for this need, the better.

Short Term

I’m a big fan of the proposal in this year’s budget that will create a dedicated bus lane down Murfreesboro Pike. I am hoping to see more dedicated bus lanes in high-traffic areas in the next four years.

Adding covered/easier to access bus stops. We can’t expect more folks to ride the bus if we don’t provide anything more than a bench without any coverage from the rain/sun. We also will continue to have challenges to get folks to ride the bus when we force them to cross high-traffic areas to access certain bus stops. The bus stop at the corner of Lebanon Pike and Old Hickory Blvd in Hermitage is a prime example. This bus stop sits in between busy lanes of traffic and a highly-utilized turning lane. It’s not feasible to ask folks to risk their life to take a form of public transportation.

I would back the creation of a dedicated funding source to address these short-term solutions, while also planning ahead to solve our transit issues long-term.


12 years ago, I lived in a 1-bedroom apartment here in Nashville. My rent was $1,100 a month. That same apartment now rents for over $1,800 per month with little to no renovations. Here are a few ideas I have that I believe will allow us to wrap our arms around our housing crisis.

  • I would like to see Metro implement regulatory guidelines around rental rates. Companies that are deliberately price-gouging would be subject to a higher property tax rate.
  • Limits on the amount of properties that can be purchased by one entity (corporation or person) within a calendar year. Too many greedy entities are buying up a large share of homes for sale just to sell them as is for a big profit or to rent them out. This is a dangerous trend that needs to be regulated in order to keep the home buying market fair and equitable.
  • Create affordable housing options by repurposing currently owned Metro property should be a priority. We currently have a large number of city-owned buildings (nursing homes, schools, warehouses) that are sitting vacant. These properties could be turned into quality homes/units that are affordable, safe and healthy options for individuals who would qualify for them.
  • Increase investments into proven solutions such as the Barnes Housing Trust Fund in order to continue producing quality housing.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

Great question here. First off, we need to oficially adopt home rule in Nashville to protect us from future rulings targeted specifically at our city. Currently only 14 cities have formally adopted home rule in the state of Tennessee (Not including Nashville). It is my hope that the three judge panel hearing the Metro Council Reduction case will rule in favor of Metro. This will give us the precedence of home rule, but we still need to formally adopt it nonetheless.

The next 4 years are likely going to be worse regarding blatant attacks on our city. It will be up to our Council to push back as much as possible in order to protect our city and it’s residents. I for one am ready for the fight. This is my home. My family has lived in Tennessee since before it was a state. I refuse to be ran out of this great state and plan standing up for the Tennesseans that believe the same.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you need clarification.



R.J. MAMULA: His website says he’s “an Inventory Auditor for Under Armour Sport Equipment Company and a tax professional at H&R Block” who was appointed as Secretary of the Davidson Democratic Party in 2021 and elected in 2022 as District 14 Executive Committeeman, where he was “an outstanding voice of the working class, pushing for higher wages, affordable housing, and programs to combat homelessness.”

Mamula answered my email:

Dear Joanne,

Thank you so much for reaching out.

1. I think the biggest priority for Nashville right now is making it an affordable place to live, especially by tackling the affordable housing and homelessness issues. This is important to me personally as someone who pays rent and whose family once had a close call with a foreclosure. Here is how I want to address them:

A. Use tourist dollars to help residents, rather than spending resident dollars on tourists.

B. Incentivize developers to build affordable housing rather than luxury housing. Many developments have been promoted as affordable housing but end up becoming luxury housing.

C. Increase funding for the Barnes Fund.

D. Eliminate red tape that makes it hard for affordable housing developers to do business in Nashville.

E. Have the city partner with charities such as Room In The Inn (which I have volunteered with) and Rescue Mission.

2. For housing, see my answer to question 1. For transit, I would start by expanding the buss service with more stops. As more resources become available, we can work on expanding rail services. I also envision revamping Briley Parkway as a bypass for through Nashville traffic.

3. That is a tricky question because the state has no interest in working with us. Many mayoral candidates are campaigning on standing up to or working with state government, but I am unsure exactly how they plan to do that. Fortunately, the courts have sometimes filed in our favor. I would also try bypassing the state and getting federal funds for what the state won’t work with us on.

Again, thank you for reaching out and don’t hesitate to contact me with any further concerns.

Kind Regards,

RJ Mamula

Council District 15

Incumbent is Jeff Syracuse (running for At Large). Vote for: Jeff Gregg.


JEFF GREGG: His website says he has a “business background and success as a health and wellness advocate” and he’s chaired the boards of some music and arts organizations. It’s pretty light on details. Looks like he’s endorsed by the incumbent Jeff Syracuse and a bunch of others, one of whom (who is not a very public person, so I won’t name her here) is a good friend whose judgement I trust.


DAN JONES: I can’t find a website for this guy, but the Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so uhhh.

Edited June 18 to add: website (which has a pictured of him with somebody holding a Trump 2024 sign and shows that rightwing mayoral candidate Natisha Brooks endorses him) and Facebook (which confirms he’s Republican. Like a lot of the Republican candidate websites, his does not have an issues page. But *horrified laughter* this guy is a nightmare: here he says, “Still Pure Blood and Proud of it!” while sharing an earlier 2020 post about a “reopen CA” protest ; here he is at what looks like the same anti-mask demonstration (a sign in the background reads “there is no virus”); he’s one of those chuckleheads who got mad at Bud Light for partnering with a trans actor ; and he is still, in the year of our lord 2023, using the term “scamdemic”. He seems be a MAGA true believer who’s just excited to be “in the in-crowd”.

Council District 16

Incumbent is Ginny Welsch (below). Vote for: Ginny Welsch.


ALEXA LITTLE: I can’t find a website for her, so my opinion is based solely on her email below – she seems sincere and well-intentioned, but I don’t see any reason she would be a better Council member than Welsch, who I think has been phenomenal.

Little answered my email:

Hi Joanne,

I’m sorry for the delay, I’m home with covid this week and it is a beast! Thank you for your email, I love neighbors who take the initiative and get involved.

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

As a nashville native, I remember what this city used to be and while the downtown growth as been amazing for our pocket book, I feel the neighborhoods have been pushed aside. We had our taxes raised and immediately trash service came to a halt. Our roads are a disaster as is much of our storm drains and culverts. It would be a shame if the lack of appropriate infrastructure is what causes Nashville to fall. In short, we need to refocus our efforts on neighborhood needs.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

I recently went to a transit forum. They went around the room and asked each of us what we thought was most needed. The answer was light rail almost unanimously. The head of WeGo told us it was never going to happen. I think that is short sided and a requirement if Nashville is going to continue to be livable in 30 years. All bus and rail stations need to be built with low income development in mind. Miami has done a great job with this one and we should be looking at other cities for answers rather than a flat out, ‘it ain’t gonna happen.’

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

This is a hard one. I’m new to this and need to learn more about what is and is not possible. When the state tried to force us to redistrict just 30 days before election season, my answer was to strong arm them. Make a statement. We make most of the state’s money and that should give us the upper hand. I was told that’s not possible. I have lots to learn.

Thank you for reaching out. I really do appreciate it and hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any follow up questions.


GINNY WELSCH (incumbent): I’m endorsing Ginny, who I volunteered for in the last council election, partly for the incumbency reason I mention in the At Large section under Burkley Allen’s write-up, but mostly because I have really liked her work so far. She votes the way I would like, and sends out a really informative e-newsletter. She gets some flack on Facebook for not always replying to questions there, which I understand can be frustrating, but seems unfair when most Council members don’t engage with social media at all (and, I mean, have you seen social media?, I get it, it’s awful).

Website. On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Welsch sponsored and voted for. She sponsored an ordinance requiring 20% of Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing to go to qualified small non-profits. Voted against installation of license plate readers.

Welsch answered my email:

Hey Joanne-
Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s a bit crazy right now with budget hearings going on. See my answers below. Hope all is well!

  1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

    That we create a city for the people that live here. I think we spend too much time and money on the big and flashy, and not enough on the nuts and bolts. The Titans deal is a case in point. It’s a very bad deal that will have an ongoing negative impact on how we can address the issues that most concern the people of Nashville. The NASCAR vote is coming up soon, and it’s the same thing. Too much money invested in something that will not only not benefit the city, but will actually present some harm. And we’re doing these things and taking from everything that keeps our city moving and makes it such a great place to live. What makes a culture is people. Not buildings, not amusements, but people. And if those people leave, then no matter what the landscape looks like, the culture is dead. And I fear we’re on the path toward that. Council has power to shape our future but too often, as we’ve seen during this term, council has given its power away to our detriment. And that has to stop.

    My top priorities are affordable housing, homelessness and language equity. And I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. Encourage and support affordable housing in community benefits agreements in all relevant Metro funded projects, when allowed; work to get more viable Metro land donated to the community land trust; work to create an incentivization program to increase the amount of land donated to the community land trust; work to create a community land bank and prioritize building affordable homes on metro owned property; support PILOTS and other incentives to increase housing stock overall. I am also working to make sure that Metro doesn’t squander $50m in APR dollars for homelessness with our response, which I fear right now we are on the path to doing. There is no real plan in place, and we are not actually housing people, just sweeping up encampments. It’s a disaster.

    For language equity, I got a Spanish language closed captioning system put in place in Chambers, and got money allocated for a dedicated Spanish language channel on Metro Nashville Network, to simulcast all meetings broadcast on MNN in Spanish, and I want to expand the number of language interpretations we provide. I also got funding for the first Title VI compliance officer in Metro, under the Human Relations Commission. So we’re on the way.
  2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

    See above on housing. As for transit, I’ve asked for more money for WeGo to expand service, hours and frequency across the board. I hope we have a Mayor who can articulate and move a bold vision on how to upgrade our entire system and move the city forward, because without that, I fear we’re lost.
  3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

    To fight. The state is going forward with taking over the city of Nashville piece by piece, even if they aren’t saying it out loud. We need to use every legal and legislative tool we have to fight, even knowing that our constitution doesn’t give us a lot of legal leeway. Because we just saw when the state tried to cut the council size in half that if we are willing to get in the fight and use everything we have, we can win. I don’t believe everyone in Tennessee is as extreme as this fascist legislature and I think we need to build on that.
  4. Ginny Welsch

Council District 17

Incumbent is Colby Sledge (not running), who endorsed Terry Vo. Vote for: Jackson or Vo.


TONYA ESQUIBEL: Her website says she is a loan officer for home mortgages and has a radio show, The Tonya Esquibel Real Estate Show. She has a Bachelor’s in Christian Leadership. Her website doesn’t have an issues page.

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so make of that what you will.

Nashville Banner/Scene story on this race: “She places a strong emphasis on public safety, specifically on bolstering the Metro Nashville Police Department, and feels the biggest issue District 17 faces is future plans for the fairgrounds.”


TEAKA JACKSON: Her website says she’s a Senior Litigation Paralegal, a Tennessee Supreme Court Civil and Victim-Offender Mediator, the founder of nonprofit Love Thy Neighbors, and a board member for Tennessee Justice Center. Her priorities are affordability, public safety, and quality of life. She is in the Davidson County Democratic Women organization.

Nashville Banner/Scene story on this race: “Jackson is the only lifelong Nashville resident of the three. She attended Metro Nashville Public Schools and now works as a litigation paralegal. Jackson is also the sole founder of Love Thy Neighbors, a nonprofit geared toward community outreach through programs, events and initiatives providing services to marginalized groups. Her top priority is affordability.”


TERRY VO: Her website says she wants District 17 to “grow as an inclusive community that protects the history and character of neighborhoods, acts with integrity, advocates for affordability and safety, supports multi-beneficial development, increases civic engagement, and promotes kindness and mutual respect to all.”

Nashville Banner/Scene story on this race: “Vo has spent the least time in Nashville of the three candidates — relatively, at 14 years — but says she has become deeply ingrained in her community through nonprofit work and her service on the Chestnut Hill Neighborhood Association. Vo has the endorsement of Sledge, and largely seems to adhere to similar ideas. She places a strong emphasis on housing and community development.”

Council District 18

Incumbent is Tom Cash (below). Vote for: Tom Cash. (I guess, wish I knew anything about his opponent at all.)


TOM CASH (incumbent): A former English and Government teacher at Hillsboro and Hume-Fogg, in his first term on Council he served on Codes, Fair and Farmers’ Market, Education, Planning, Zoning and Historical, and Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Committees.

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Cash voted for. Voted for installation of license plate readers.


ANGUS PURDY: I can’t find anything about this guy. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Council District 19

Incumbent is Freddie O’Connell (running for Mayor). Vote for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



Nashville Scene/Banner: “Originally from D.C., Hendricks served as outreach adviser to presidential and congressional campaigns, aide to three members of U.S. Congress and as national director of the NAACP’s Youth and College Voter Empowerment Program. He is currently a Fair Board commissioner. He says he wants to help people by bringing together corporate and community partners as well as state and local legislators.”


JACOB KUPIN: According to his website, he is “president of the Historic Buena Vista Neighborhood Association and serves on the city’s participatory budget committee.”

Nashville Scene/Banner: “Kupin identifies himself as the ‘neighborhood guy.’ After the former New Yorker fell in love with Nashville 10 years ago, he says, he worked to embed himself on a granular level through real estate and neighborhood associations.”

Kupin answered my email, after asking for more detail (“I will be back in touch with answers. What part of town do you live in? What do you see as the biggest issues on your end?”), so I have added italics for the bits he’s quoting from my answer:

Thank you for your patience. Happy to discuss in more detail.

Housing: affordability and related to that, homelessness (the unhoused being harassed due to the new state law outlawing camping on public lands, and the distress and safety issues for both housed and unhoused people who live near and in encampments).

As a residential realtor focusing on affordable options for first time buyers, this is a top priority for me. I spent my morning today at Room at the Inn and am meeting with MDHA next week. I want to engage organizations to support our unhoused.

Transit: increased traffic and the terrible state of our public transit.

As a former New Yorker, I have seen what an effective transit system could look like. I believe it is important to work with those already engaged in the transit system to improve their experience and to grow our transit system.

State/city conflict: when the city decided not to host the RNC (a decision I agreed with – why lose money on an event for people who hate us), and the Republican supermajority retaliated by making us redraw boundaries (that was stayed but we still wasted time and effort, and will have to deal with it next election). I am also concerned about our Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ populations if the state government continues to ramp up their rhetoric and laws against these groups. I am hoping for some creative problem-solving from Council to help mitigate some of the harm from vindictive state lawmakers.

I have already begun meeting with state lawmakers. In my business experience though I am a Democrat I have met with Republican counterparts to build bridges and create positive change. My philosophy through life I would carry into council is to build bridges where I can, and push back where I can’t to successfully accomplish change. It is imperative we protect our Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ populations.

Thank you for your concern and interest!



Nashville Scene/Banner: “Turner notes his passion for the city is a natural result of being a multigenerational Nashville native and product of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Vanderbilt and Belmont. He currently works for a sales and marketing firm.”

Council District 20

Incumbent is Mary Carolyn Roberts (not running). Vote for: Rollin Horton. (I guess, wish I knew anything about his opponent at all.)


SCOTT GILLIHAN: I can’t find a thing about this guy.


ROLLIN HORTON: Attorney Horton’s website says he’s Board Member and Crime & Safety Chair of the Nations Neighborhood Association as well as Officer and Regional Vice Chair of the Davidson County Democratic Party. He was a United States Senate Law Clerk (Senate Committee on Finance). He has a cute dog. His priorities are sidewalks, housing, education, and public safety. He’s endorsed by the incumbent Mary Carolyn Roberts.

Council District 21

Incumbent is Brandon Taylor (below). Either of these candidates seem like they’d be great.


JAMEL R. CAMPBELL-GOOCH: His website says he’s a TSU grad and community organizer for North Nashville with the Black Nashville Assembly.

Nashville Scene story about this race: “Campbell-Gooch proudly identifies as a lifelong North Nashville resident who’s witnessed both the strength and beauty of North Nashville and the systemic ills that made 37208 the most incarcerated ZIP code in America. For years he has been speaking his politics, reflected in the platforms of politically aligned groups like the People’s Budget Coalition and the Black Nashville Assembly, which he founded and where he organizes. He is an uncompromising critic of the police and the carceral state and has told voters that, if elected, he will work for large-scale change by investing in public goods and services while divesting the city from prisons, surveillance and aggressive law enforcement.”


BRANDON TAYLOR (incumbent): His website says, “I’ve worked to serve underrepresented communities through fundraising for The Boys Scouts of America, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Meharry Medical College. I currently work as the Director of Major Gifts for Nashville Rescue Mission.”

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Taylor voted against. Voted against installation of license plate readers.

Nashville Scene story about this race: “In perhaps the most radical political act of his first term, Taylor tried to amend the Titans’ deal to secure tax revenue for the city’s general fund as the deal’s terms moved through council in April. With public opinion shifting against the deal, the legislative maneuver — referred to in council lore as the ‘Taylor Amendment’ — was perhaps the most significant council effort to change the terms of the deal and earned Taylor favor among Campbell-Gooch’s comrades on the activist left.”

Council District 23

Incumbent is Thom Druffel (below). Vote for: Lisa Williams.


THOM DRUFFEL (incumbent): His website says his top priorities are to:

  • Protect and enhance our neighborhood’s natural beauty and amenities.
  • Facilitate stronger community engagement and networks.
  • Correct Metro’s Education Inequities by supporting its key drivers.
  • Increase government transparency and accountability in its spending.

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so he’d be an exception to my “vote incumbent” general rule for this election.

Nashville Banner/Scene story on this race: “Druffel argues it takes time to make an impact in Nashville, and wants to grow his experience as a councilmember. He says he’s aiming for long-run problem-solving, also pursuing a Ph.D. in education. He has experience managing 40 hotels across the country.”

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Druffel voted against. Voted for installation of license plate readers.


LISA WILLIAMS: Doesn’t seem to have a website (yet?).

Nashville Banner/Scene story on this race: “Williams argues a new, passionate perspective is needed to accomplish progress. She says she has experience taking difficult concepts and making them available to the public through her time working in the technology transfer division of the NASA Ames Research Center in California. … Williams wants to focus on accessible voting, ‘continuing to inspire innovation’ and the relationship between affordable housing and transportation.”

Williams answered my email:


Great questions, I hope this helps narrow down your list of possible candidates for this election cycle.

If you are in District 23 I would appreciate your vote for Metro Council.

Lisa Williams

1. What do you consider the highest priority for the City of Nashville right now? What issues would you like to address and how will you address them?

I see Nashville at a crossroads and want to be sure we are choosing carefully how we build our city for the future. As I look forward and envision the Nashville I want my children and grandchildren to live in, I know we need to make some adjustments. In your next question, transit and housing are top of the list for how we do that. Our city has an aging infrastructure that has not been maintained in a way to match the pace of our growth over the past two decades. This needs to be addressed as well as continuing to train and fill staff positions under the umbrella of Metro including first responders, educators, sanitation, and parks employees.

2. How will you address transit and housing issues in Nashville?

Affordable housing is inextricably linked with accessible transportation. Nashville and the surrounding area need to consider partnering to improve our transportation options. As we do this it will allow for individuals and families to attain housing that is more affordable, while being able to eventually grow into home ownership. With the current nationwide home shortage Nashville can also consider many other options including expanding The Barnes Housing Trust Fund which would open opportunities for more homes to be built.

3. What do you see as the role of city government when there is a conflict with the state government?

This is a question that is simple and yet recently fraught with difficulty. On issues where the state clearly has overarching power the city needs to work as best it can to accomplish the joint goals. This would be something like an intercity commuter rail system. A project that would be mutually beneficial to the state and city or multiple communities. But if the state sets forth changes that over step established boundaries, such as the city charters, this needs to be challenged by the city, town, or metro area of concern. Lately, it has felt as if a few of the General Assembly members would benefit from studying middle school civics again.

Lisa Williams
Metropolitan Nashville Council District 23 Candidate

Council District 25

Incumbent is Russ Pulley (running for At Large).Vote for: Jeff Preptit.


DAVID ACKERMAN: His website says he is “deeply invested in the fields of public education, public transit, and traffic management.” It also has a video I didn’t watch because I have a whole life to live and I’m not spending it watching campaign videos. His platform page mentions that he thinks one way to reduce crime is to increase police presence which made me think, hmm, maybe he’s a Republican, but I couldn’t find one thing on his website about political affiliation – but hey presto, the Scene confirms it.

His about page mentions working in education but not what he does – the Nashville Scene says he “works for a higher-education software company.”

Nashville Scene story on this race: Ackerman is regional vice chair for the Davidson County Republican Party, though he says he remains “committed to keeping this a nonpartisan race.” According to his website, Ackerman is running on the concepts of affordability, transit, education and public safety. “In every area of our government, there’s always room for improvement,” says Ackerman. “So it’s looking for, ‘What is that need, and how do we get on board to make that happen?'”

Ackerman answered my email:


I appreciate you including me in your email poll. I am running for Council District 25. Overall, my planned approach is to work with my fellow council members to address the issues facing Nashville and the 25th District. I also plan to have civil discussions with our state representatives and senators to address the needs of Nashville and the 25th District.

The need for an holistic transit plan is great for Nashville as well as the region surrounding us. This transit plan needs to consider many aspects including:

  • What are the transportation modalities needed to provide the best transit plan?
  • Public transportation options, walking, bicycling, driving, rideshare, etc.
  • What are the sources of funding for the plan?
  • Public funding from Metro, public funding from the State, public funding from surrounding counties, public / private partnerships, etc.

We also need to look at how do we address the cost of living within Nashville, especially as it relates to housing costs. There are several models that may work for Nashville. We as a council need to discuss which of these models (or combinations) work best for all of Nashville.

I would welcome a conversation with you.

David Ackerman


JEFF PREPTIT: His website says he’s a Tennessee native and the child of Haitian immigrants with a degree in Political Science who worked for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism as an open source intelligence analyst before getting a law degree from Lincoln Memorial University, working with the Nashville Public Defender, then becoming a Nonprofit Civil Rights Attorney. His top priorities are community safety, development and infrastructure, education, and housing.

Also his website features a nice photo of a dog, A++, no notes, all campaign websites should have dogs on them.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Preptit, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, has support from Democratic state House Reps. Caleb Hemmer and Bob Freeman. ‘I’m running on … equity, justice and community safety,” says Preptit. “I firmly believe that if we have those principles embedded in the policies that we enact, we’re going to have a better Nashville that actually works for the folks who live and work here.” He was the only candidate who addressed stormwater infrastructure during conversations with the Scene, and his website highlights matters including community safety, housing, education, development and infrastructure.

Preptit answered my email:

Hi Joanne,

Thank you for reaching out. With regard to your questions:

  1. Community Development and Infrastructure/ Community Safety. We have had a lot of investment and development in Nashville but our communities are not getting the same level of investment. Here in District 25 we need to ensure that we are investing in community infrastructure that creates safe and walkable neighborhoods that have sidewalks, protected bike lanes, protected walking lanes, updated storm water infrastructure, increasing the capacity of our fire station 20 to service a growing population.
  2. We must have a strategic plan that seeks to address issues in the immediate term while having an eye toward future improvements as well. We need to increase the number of high frequency bus routes as well as expanding the number of bus routes. To ensure that we are able to sustain our growth we must develop more efficient means of moving people and commerce.
  3. The state has actively been working to take local governance away from our city and we need elected leaders who will stand up for Nashville and for democracy. At a bare minimum our leaders must be ready to explore all options in defending Nashville. We must be the decision makers for our city. Likewise, I stand ready to elevate the voices in our community at every level and work with our local institutions to ensure that we have a robust response to efforts that undermine our most basic democratic principles.

ROLANDO TOYOS: His website says he’s is the Founder and CEO of medical/surgical eye care practice Toyos Clinic, and that when he was in medical school he became active in the Republican Party. He since ran as a Republican for Shelby County Commissioner and for U.S. Senate. He and his wife are both ophthalmologists. Like a lot of the Republican candidates in this election, his website doesn’t have an issues section.

Nashville Scene story on this race: Toyos, the son of Cuban immigrants, compares his bid to running a medical practice — he wants people to discuss their problems openly and holistically. He says he wants available city services such as law enforcement to keep up with the growth the city is experiencing. “I’m running for my constituency,” says Toyos. “So what I’m trying to do is do some outreach now and see what issues are important to them.”

Council District 28

Incumbent is Tanaka Vercher (not running). Vote for: Travis London.


DAVID BENTON: The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so make of that what you will.

His website says he “Practiced pharmacy” for over 30 years, is Vice President of his Homeowners Association, “Likes to workout” (I think this is a weird thing to include), and “Won the Bausch & Lomb Science Award in High School” (same). This is the entire text of his issues page, which is just not enough to know what he actually wants to do:

Public safety (i.e. work on excessive speeding, car thefts, response times)
Property Standards
Community Amenities
Safe Schools
I want the residents of District 28 and all of Nashville, including our tourist, to feel safe walking down the sidewalk at night.


TRAVIS LONDON: His website says he’s a “Financial Operations Analyst for a donut factory in Lebanon” and his priorities are to expand public transportation, support public schools, fix the roads, promote walkable neighborhoods and efficient city services, and invest in affordable housing (with a bit of detail on each item). His Twitter shows him waving a pride flag and his Instagram has nice pictures of his doggo and friends who are drag queens so I feel like he’s my kind of people.

London answered my email:

Good morning Joanne!

Thank you so much for reaching out! Here are my answers to your questions:

1.) I believe Nashville biggest priority should be to upgrade our infrastructure to support the expansion of the city. Our roads need fixing, we need more multimodal transportation options, and walkable neighborhoods by providing sidewalks, specifically on busy roads to make local businesses accessible.

2.) One of the best ways we can fix transit is by investing more in it. I live off of Murfreesboro Pike which is bus route 55. Most bus stops past Donelson Pike aren’t covered and lack benches. They’re just poles in the grass on the side of the road. So I would like to see each stop covered and have a bench for people who are using it. I also think we need more routes and more stops in the southeast part of the city.

For housing, I believe we can offer more incentives for developers to build more affordable housing units rather than luxury apartments.

3.) I believe that the government is to operate at the will of the voters. So if the state government continues to try and override the will of the voters the city should continue to fight and support those policies supported by the voters.

If you have any other questions, please let me know. I look forward to helping district 28 and Nashville create a more equitable future.

Best wishes,


Council District 29

Incumbent is Delishia Porterfield (running for At Large). Vote for: anyone but Vetter?


TASHA ELLIS: She is in the Davidson County Democratic Women organization. And that is literally all I can find about her.


JAMA MOHAMED: I can’t find a website.

Mohamed answered my email:

Hi Joanne,

Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to engage in the upcoming election. I appreciate your effort to get to know your candidates better. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

1. The highest priority for Nashville, in my view, is affordable housing. If I hadn’t bought my home in 2016, I would not be able to afford to live here. Rapid growth and gentrification have pushed out many of our residents, and I believe it’s crucial that we address this to maintain the diversity and vibrancy of our city. In addressing affordable housing, I’m open to considering diverse approaches such as inclusionary zoning, community land trusts, affordable housing trust funds, rent stabilization policies, enhancing tenant protections, and promoting accessory dwelling units. I’m looking to learn from public policy experts within the city because, as an art school graduate, I do not have all the answers. If a clear solution existed, I hope that someone would have already tried to implement it. Being transparent, I am still learning, and my primary goal is to represent District 29 to the best of my ability, fostering a thriving community for all. That might mean getting out of the way of people that know more than me.

2. Transit and housing are intertwined issues in Nashville. I will work to improve our local MTA service and advocate for the development of a local transit hub in Antioch, ensuring our residents have equitable access to public transportation. Hopefully, a strong transit system can help alleviate some housing pressures by making more areas of our city easily accessible. As mentioned before, affordable housing is a priority for me. I aim to learn as much as I can to help shape policies that increase affordable housing options and ensure our residents can secure a roof over their heads.

3. The role of the city government when there is a conflict with the state government is to fiercely advocate for the needs and rights of our local community. City officials must stand as a barrier to state preemption when it threatens our community’s right to self-governance and diversity. While it’s important to work in harmony with our state government when possible, I believe the primary duty of city council members is to serve the needs of their local constituents first. I am committed to supporting efforts aimed at combating such overreaches. While I acknowledge that the state government has a role in shaping laws that affect us, it is inappropriate for it to make petty laws specifically targeting certain counties, including ours. The established processes should be followed when it comes to matters like school funding or council composition.

I hope this gives you a clearer understanding of my stance on these issues. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. I look forward to possibly having your support in the upcoming election.

Jama Mohamed
Candidate for District 29


JOHN REED: His website says he works with the Tennessee Democratic Party, has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Minor in History from UT Martin, he was at the Tennessee Three protests, and he has founded a small business. His priorities are:

  • Keep Nashville Affordable
  • Connect Our Neighborhoods
  • Uplifting Small Businesses
  • Advocate for Reproductive Justice
  • Support Nashville’s K-12 Schools
  • Safeguard Democratic Institutions
  • Defend LGBTQIA+ Rights
  • Protect Our Green Spaces

Of course city council is not going to give him the opportunity to overthrow Dobbs but I do like where his heart is at.


MICHELE VETTER: I can’t find a website for her, but the Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her, so yeah.

Council District 31

Incumbent is John Rutherford (below). Vote for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LELANN EVANS (write-in)

LELANN EVANS has a write-in campaign. I don’t know why he didn’t run normally.

He started the nonpartisan educational company Our Future Voters LLC. His website appears to be down.


DIA HART: Her website says her priorities are responsible development, increased safety and security, fiscal responsibility and good stewardship. She says, “I have had several experiences during my life’s journey. I have grown through my US Peace Corps experience, to working with social service networks like The Rotary Foundation, serving Non-Profit agencies, working with teams in the Project Management sector, and Healthcare institutions. I have been fortunate to help implement programs, coordinate projects, and manage grants that have brought help and relief to families.”

The Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses her.


JOHN RUTHERFORD (incumbent): His website says he’s an Air Force veteran who works in “Nashville’s nonprofit sector, with experience in Defense contracting.” His priorities are strengthening our community, addressing veteran homelessness, “embrace a strategic and sustainable approach to welcoming and integrating New Americans into all parts of our community”, building a new fire station in the district, and adding a third Veteran Service Officer (VSO) to the city government. He supports the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) (which I also give monthly to – as an immigrant myself, I’m a big fan).

On the roommate issue (see Hurt/Mayoral race above), Rutherford voted against. Voted for installation of license plate readers.

Council District 34

Incumbent is Angie Emery Henderson (running for Vice Mayor).Vote for: Sandy Ewing.


LUKE AUSTIN ELLIOTT: His website says he will “work to allocate resources to law enforcement” and “prioritize the development of smart transportation systems, such as intelligent traffic management, connected vehicles, and integrated public transportation systems.” He’s a financial analyst. His top priorities are controlling tourism, crime, infrastructure and being fiscally responsible.

Nashville Scene story on this race: “I think our district in particular needs somebody who can negotiate, and I can get meetings with these people,” Elliott says. “I’m not going to grandstand on social issues and things like that. I am a Republican, but I mainly am a numbers guy — that’s what I do for a living.”


SANDY EWING: Her website says her top priorities are infrastructure, protecting green spaces, and “resilience” for which she mentions government transparency, including social and environmental concerns when considering ROI, making sure the city systems can withstand natural disasters, and making sure “developers are adhering to the city’s Low Impact Development standards that protect our watersheds.” She has held leadership positions as a volunteer for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and is a member of the Tennessee Advisory Council for Access to Technology.

Nashville Scene story on this race: “As we grow,” she continues, “we need to make sure that we do so in a way that is sustainable, economically, environmentally, socially, that pays attention to issues like providing affordable housing for our first responders, for our musicians, for our artists, for people who are at lower income brackets and need options close by where they work, so that they can live in Nashville proper, because that’s better for everyone.”

Council District 35

Incumbent is Dave Rosenberg (not running). Vote for: Jason Spain.


CARSON SMART: I can’t find a website for him, but the Tennessee Voter Guide, which consistently endorses Republicans, endorses him, so yeah.


JASON SPAIN: His website says he “worked for Congressman Bob Clement, for whom he served as a legislative aide, House Budget Committee staff, and field representative. He then joined the administration of Governor Phil Bredesen, focusing on legislation and policy.” He is Executive Director of the non-profit Tennessee Public Transportation Association and volunteers with Hands On Nashville and Keep Bellevue Beautiful.

His policy priorities are development (“Jason will encourage and support development that positively benefits our community, and he will oppose any development that would harm Bellevue’s unique character and natural landscape.”), school safety (“The tragic shooting at the Covenant School is a reminder that our leaders must take steps to keep our schools safe. The safety of our children should always be our first priority, and Jason will focus on opportunities to prevent another senseless act of gun violence in our schools.”), and infrastructure/transit (“As Nashville continues to grow and congestion continues to worsen citywide, it is clear that we need more mobility options. Sidewalks, bike lanes, public transit, and road improvements should work together to form a multimodal network that a) gives people alternatives to sitting in traffic in their personal vehicles and b) lessens congestion for those who choose to continue driving.”)

Detail of Nashville mural – photo by Dale Cruse.

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