Nashvillians go to the polls again starting Friday, as early voting begins in the runoff race to choose a vice mayor to serve for the next year. Acting Vice Mayor Sheri Weiner and At-Large Councilman Jim Shulman are facing off for the second-highest-post in the city.
Both are experienced and respected elected officials who have logged years of public service, and on the officially nonpartisan Metro Council, they’ve tended to be on the same side of debates. Both describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially progressive.
But Shulman has had the backing of county Democrats, while Weiner says she leans Republican. And on three big issues, they disagreed:
- In September 2016, Shulman voted in favor of the One Touch Make Ready policy, which intended to help Google Fiber with its rollout. Weiner thought the major telecoms could have worked out their disagreement. “It was clear that none of us was totally 100 percent comfortable that we had a comprehensive solution,” she said at the time. The policy has since been embroiled in a legal fight.
- That same month, Shulman supported a measure to allow police to penalize marijuana possession with a fine. Weiner said she supported medicinal marijuana, but not the policy that passed.
- In June 2017, Shulman voted for a proposal to reduce Nashville’s role in immigration enforcement. Weiner opposed the idea — and it was later withdrawn.
WPLN reviewed debates on several other hot-button subjects, finding some instances in which Shulman and Weiner voted the same but shaped debates in different ways. Weiner clearly argued in favor of a plan to allow Fontanel to expand, and the measure passed. Shulman had strong reservations about a natural gas compressor in Joelton, and helped to pass an ordinance regulating such projects, while Weiner did not vote.
Many Shared Sentiments
Both council members are known for their rigor in checking on how tax dollars are spent. Weiner did so notably in 2015 when she found a way to reallocate Election Commission dollars to keep early voting locations open. Of late, she has been trying to develop a plan for the future of the city’s financially struggling General Hospital.
Shulman led the effort to find a compromise on short-term rental rules.
“I’ve never been in a process that lasted so long and that listened to so many people and that had such open discussions,” he said at the time.
Mayor David Briley, before he took that post, specifically tasked Weiner and Shulman with finding ways to make the council more accessible and transparent to the public.
And both voted to investigate Megan Barry and against a property tax increase this year.
Outside of the council, Weiner is a doctor of audiology and a healthcare business consultant.
Shulman is an attorney who directs the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.
Early voting begins Friday at one location: the Metro government building at 800 2nd Ave S., on the fourth floor. The sites expand on Aug. 27 before Election Day on Sept. 6. A full schedule of times and sites is available online here.
This is the first of a pair of vice mayor stories leading up to Election Day.