During this election season, O&AN has elected to make endorsements during general elections only. We are sharing our endorsements for county and local offices this month because local general elections will be held on August 7th, 2014. We will make our endorsements for state and national offices in the fall.
Davidson County District Attorney
He may be running in an uncontested race, but O&AN feels that Glenn Funk, an accomplished attorney, with 29 years of experience, deserves our recognition and support.
Besides his vast experience as assistant district attorney, assistant public defender, and special prosecutor, as well as in private practice, Funk brings a deep sense of personal conviction to the job. He believes that LGBT individuals should be respected as equals. Funk’s support for the LGBT community is rooted in, not in spite of, his faith. He relates, “Within my church, Westminster Presbyterian, I have consistently supported equal rights both in denominational issues such as equality in marriage issues, and locally with regard to our congregation's hiring practices. I will look to add diversity within the office. I will also seek input from all groups within Nashville regarding the administration of justice.
Throughout his campaign, Funk has attended to the concerns of the LGBT community, going so far as to hold a meet and greet at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum “to meet with voters and talk about issues important to the LGBT community.”
General Sessions Judge, Division VIII
Rachel Bell remains a solid ally to the LGBT community, attending community events, such as this year’s HRC dinner. She is a member of the Tennessee Stonewall Bar Association, which “provides support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lawyers working in Tennessee” and “is dedicated to promoting LGBT inclusion and civil equality both in Tennessee’s legal community and the state’s general population.” In our opinion, Bell is one of the most progressive judges currently serving Davidson County.
General Sessions Judge, Division II
Melissa Blackburn is a huge supporter of our LGBT community. She has attended nearly every LGBT political and social event in Nashville. At Pride this year, she was a visible presence, and her smiling face left no doubt that she was proud to be there with us! She has really earned our community’s trust as an elected official and office holder with our best interests in mind.
“Throughout my career in the legal, private sector and charitable fields working alongside friends and colleagues, it has been clear to me that LGBT community members want essentially the same things most of us want: the opportunity to work, be successful, have a family, provide for the needs of their family and contribute to making Nashville a better place to live.”
Also, importantly, she wants us to remember she is NOT MARSHA.
General Sessions Judge, Division IV
Lynda Jones is the kind of family values candidate we can get behind. An active member of West End United Methodist, she is married and has one daughter. But she is on the record as promising, “I am unbiased in my beliefs and demonstrate an open mind to people of all backgrounds regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or economic status.” Now promises are promises, we understand, but Lynda is a longtime friend of the LGBT community, and a Federal Club Member of the HRC. She puts her money, and her action, where her mouth is.
Nashville Metropolitan Board of Public Education
Education is a matter of broad, bi-partisan concern, and certainly most candidates for school board in Nashville are, with a greater or lesser degree of enthusiasm, on the right side of issues like discipline, bullying, and the inclusion of diverse families. However, certain distinctions can be made: for some bullying is a matter to be dealt with as it happens, and for others it is grave concern calling for proactive and preventative measures. Some candidates are willing to include everyone, while others seek to make Nashville a place that extends a welcome. With these thoughts in mind, we wish to highlight two candidates in particular, whose personal experiences and ethos speak to issues of concern to LGBT families.
Tyrese Hunter is deeply invested in the state of education in Nashville and her district. Hunter has three children in Nashville schools, one in elementary, one in middle, and one in high school, and the district she seeks to represent, which includes Antioch/Cane Ridge, traditionally underperforms. “Our schools expect too little for and from children with differences. Whether we’re talking about economic disparities, learning differences, or groups like LGBT children, they’re making excuses for why children aren’t doing well but aren’t dealing well with underlying issues.”
One such issue is bullying, which her son experienced to the extent that he had to be taken to the hospital, and ultimately had to change schools. While Nashville has policies in place to prevent bullying, “they aren’t well addressed. My son videoed a situation where bullying was happening and the teacher sat there. Without implementation, policies are no good. This is one reason why many children with differences aren’t as successful as they could be.” Her experience, we believe, will make her a proactive board member on issues of diversity support and anti-bullying. “I support families that love each other, and hold each other up: I think that’s all that matters. We should have schools where sexual orientation isn’t an issue that causes stress for students.”
Rhonda Dixon is raising a grandchild in Nashville schools. She reflects on her own family as a picture of diversity, and this has made her desire to “stand up and be an advocate for all people.” With regard to protections for diverse students, she reflects, “My stepson is gay and he’s faced a lot of challenges throughout his life – I have such a strong believe that people should have equality. Everyone should have their rights protected in school, whether they meet ‘the norm’ or not. My norm is diversity. People who are not like you should have the right to go to school without being harassed. School is hard enough without having to be afraid of showing up.” Dixon believes that her passion will allow her to make strong stands against powerful personalities of “the vocal minority. I will challenge them and speak up, and not let some group take over when children are at stake.”