This Thursday, August 1, is Election Day for Metro Nashville-Davidson County offices. Voters will head to the polls to decide who will represent them for the next four years including competitive races for Mayor, Vice-Mayor and all Metropolitan Council seats. They will also decide whether this is the year Nashville sees its own rainbow wave. In this crucial year, Nashville is still lagging with election fatigue from the multiple special elections of the last couple of years, and turnout in the early voting period was down from prior election years. This despite the fact there is a highly competitive Mayor’s race and a number of well-organized campaigns for the five Council-At-Large seats on the ballot.
Mayor David Briley faces three major competitors in his campaign for a full-term in office after taking over from former Mayor Megan Barry. Councilman John Cooper, State Representative John Ray Clemmons and former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain all hope to unseat Briley. Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman is on the ballot as well but faces only token opposition.
Countywide voters will select five At-Large council members to pair with the 35 district council seats. Among the strongest competitors for the at-large seats include current Council-At-Large members Bob Mendes and Sharon Hurt; current district council members Burkley Allen, Fabian Bedne, Sheri Weiner and conservative Steve Glover; and a number of community leaders such as Zulfat Suara, Gicola Lane, and former State Rep. Gary Moore.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Metro council races is the fact that we have the largest number of openly LGBT candidates in the city’s history. In seven of the council district seats, there are highly competitive LGBT candidates, all of whom have been endorsed by the LGBT Victory Fund.
Currently, there are two LGBT members of the council– Brett Withers in District 6 and Nancy VanReece in District 8. Withers is unopposed in his re-election for his East Nashville seat so he will return to the council next year. VanReece faces conservative Danny Williams for her District 8 seat which covers much of Madison and parts of Inglewood.
In open seat races, there are a number of first-time LGBT candidates running who could help generate a rainbow wave for Nashville’s Metro Council. In District 5 covering parts of East Nashville, Charles Flowers faces two opponents in formerly recalled councilwoman Pam Murray and progressive Sean Parker. Flowers is an educator in the school system and has been active in the McFerrin Park neighborhood.
District 7 is an open seat in Inglewood and Madison and includes the largest number of challengers of any race. Among the top tier candidates include realtor Emily Benedict who has been active in the LGBT community for a long time as a former member of the local HRC Steering Committee and a board member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
In District 9, David McMurry faces Tonya Hancock and Thomas George for this Madison council seat. McMurry is a former member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce board as well as former president of the Madison Chamber of Commerce.
Zach Young is facing off against former councilman Tim Garrett in the Goodlettsville area District 10 seat. Young is currently a member of the Goodlettsville City Commission and has been active in local Democratic circles for a number of years.
In District 13, first-time candidate Russ Bradford is running to represent the council seat that covers the airport and surrounding communities. Bradford faces the most openly vocal anti-LGBT candidate running this year, Dan Meredith, and Andrew Dixon.
Councilwoman Nancy VanReece has been quoted as saying, “there is a possible rainbow wave coming to Nashville with LGBT candidates running from the river all the way to the county line and over to the airport.” With so many candidates running, it could be a truly historic night on August 1st.
Polls are open from 7:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. across Davidson County on Thursday, August 1. To find out voter and polls information, go to https://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission.aspx.