During the last cycle of elections to the Metro Council, history was made when two LGBT candidates—Brett Withers (District 6) and Nancy VanReece (District 8)—won seats. This year, at least six out LGBT candidates are running or guaranteed a seat (Withers is unopposed). The potential for the LGBT community in Nashville to achieve unprecedented representation in city governance is a reason to take pride in how far we’ve come.
It’s Pride Month, so let’s get familiarized with some of our LGBT candidates and get ready to do the hard work necessary to see the best people take office!
Brett Withers, District 6 (incumbent)
I am honored to have been elected to represent District 6 in 2015 and to be unopposed in my reelection bid this year to continue representing District 6 for four more years.
During my time on the Metro Council I have advocated for LGBT issues and have passed legislation that enabled businesses to expand access to gender-neutral or unisex bathroom facilities for patrons and employees. This pro-business and pro-LGBT legislation has escaped State preemption efforts and still remains on the books today benefitting Nashville residents and visitors. I have also introduced and passed Transgender Day of Remembrance Resolutions on the Metro Council.
In addition to advocating for LGBT issues, I introduced and passed a Resolution making Nashville one of the first cities in the Southeast to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. My proudest accomplishments on the Metro Council have been championing public housing residents in their self-advocacy work toward implementing the Envision Cayce Master Plan. To date we have 350 units of new affordable and mixed-income housing opened or under construction, with more large-count phases on the way. We also have the brand-new K-8 Explore Community School facility that will open on the James Cayce campus in time for classes to start in the fall.
I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together over the next four years, and I appreciate the support of community members in District 6 and throughout the county.
Emily Benedict, District 7
Emily is a 20-year resident of Inglewood and East Nashville. She has served on the Nashville Pride Board, HRC Steering Committee, LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council. During her career, she has managed over $325 million and has actively worked to connect diverse businesses to companies. Her experience is one of the many unique qualities that make her extraordinarily capable of not only working through our Metro budget, but also in providing equitable solutions for the diverse communities and neighborhoods in District 7.
Equity requires being an advocate for equality for the LGBT+ community. It also means standing for fair wages, equal access to transportation, and attainable housing that doesn’t force our citizens to make the difficult decision between paying the rent or paying the car note, electric bill, and other costs of living. She believes that it’s not just our Metro employees that need a cost of living adjustment, but our citizens as well.
Lastly, Emily believes in sustainability. While Nashville has grown substantially, many of our communities like Inglewood and Madison have seen a tremendous lack of conformity in the housing in their neighborhoods. So when a group comes together and wants an overlay to protect the conformity of their street, block, or neighborhood, Emily will be the one to help them reach their goal.
Nashville and Davidson County have received a lot of attention over the last decade, and growth is great when done in an equitable manner that sustains the quality of life and the character of all of our communities. Emily has the experience to get the job done for District 7 and for our city.
Nancy VanReece, District 8 (incumbent)
When Nancy VanReece was elected in 2015, she had a vision for District 8 that came from listening to her constituents. Residents wanted more green space, safer and more walkable streets, historical preservation, and a “sense of place.” They wanted development to happen for them and not to them.
Over the past 4 years, Nancy has worked effectively and tirelessly to realize this vision and transform District 8 into a thriving community with a bright future. Under Nancy’s leadership, District 8:
- renovated Oakwood Park, providing a safe, clean, and family-friendly environment
- expanded trash and recycling services
- welcomed Music City Solar, which transformed an old landfill into a center for renewable energy
- established a new Trail Oriented Development Community Plan to extend greenways
- added 977 new street lights to the Madison area
- approved & designed sidewalks for installation along Dickerson Pike
- begun a preservation of Madison’s musical history, such as the Carter-Smith property and Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch
- expanded housing opportunities and services through development
- and completed the Madison Library renovation.
A vote for Nancy in 2019 will mean development will continue to happen for us and not to us.
David McMurry, District 9
Residents in Nashville Metro Council, District 9 deserve a Council Member who is concerned about the next generation, not just the next four years. This is no time for someone who represents the status quo. We need to prepare Madison for the jobs of the future, not just focus on the past.
The big issues that our city face – improving schools, tackling crime, and building infrastructure — those are issues I have dealt with my whole life. It’s time to have a Council Member who is from the neighborhood, who understands neighborhoods and puts neighborhoods first. I’m excited to work with all District 9 residents to shape our future together.
That’s why I’m running to be your next District 9 Council Member.
Zach Young, District 10
Since 2012, Zach Young has made public service to his community a hallmark of his reputation. A lifelong Goodlettsville resident, Zach has long been involved in organizations and causes in the Goodlettsville area to improve life for residents and businesses. Zach’s service to Goodlettsville includes acting as a member of the community’s Board of Commissioners, the Board of Zoning & Sign Appeals, the Visitors & Tourism Board, Chamber Foundation Board, and many others!
Zach is also proud of having come just one vote short of amending Goodlettsville’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation. Zach is honored to be one of the historic slate of seen LGBT candidates seeking seats on the Metro Council this year. He is also proudly endorsed by the Victory Fund.
Zach’s vision for serving District 10 includes bringing the fiscal responsibility and focus on employees that he has maintained while on the Goodlettsville City Commission.
Russ Bradford, District 13
Russ was born and raised in Mississippi, graduating from college at Mississippi State University in 2009 with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries. He had spent many weekends and breaks visiting his best friend in Nashville and fell in love with this great city. So, in the fall of 2009, he moved to town with little money and lots of determination.
Over the last ten years, Russ has lived all over Nashville and experienced so much and taken advantage of all the opportunities Nashville had to offer. Russ and his partner reside in Donelson with their cat, Gulliver, and two rescue dogs Nova and Jack.
Russ comes from a family committed to service. He’s had family serve in the military dating all the way back to the Civil War up to Desert Storm. Russ’ cousin, Sara Fortney, was elected the first openly LGBTQ school board member in the state of Florida last November. He believes very strongly in doing what you can to give back. Currently, he does this by serving on his local alumni chapter board.
Russ is running to give voice to the people of District 13. He will fight every day to make sure that the issues that trouble his neighbors are heard by the Council and the Mayor. Russ wants to make sure that we do right by our teachers, students, law enforcement, firefighters, and the people who call Nashville home. He wants to return our governments focus on the people that make Nashville the “it” city by investing in better roads and infrastructure, increasing access to public transportation to those who need it, and being more responsible with our tax dollars.
It’s time for all of Nashville to benefit from this historic growth. Let’s take off together!