Nashville Election Results Live Blog | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville Election Results Live Blog

Aug 1, 2019

Nashville voters are making key leadership decisions in today’s Metro General Election. Follow along for updates on the results, dispatches from WPLN reporters in the field, and comments from the mayoral candidates.

Updated at 9 p.m.

Candidates Take the Stage

Councilman John Cooper took the stage in front of an elated campaign party, telling supporters, “I will be the right mayor for right now."

Meanwhile, Mayor David Briley spoke to his supporters about the weeks between now and the Sept. 12 runoff — saying he looks forward to having conversations with city residents and Cooper about the future of Nashville.

John Ray Clemmons was the first of the candidates to concede the race. When early vote tallies were announced shortly after 7 p.m., Clemmons trailed David Briley, John Cooper and Carol Swain — and the dynamic of the race hasn't changed as results have continued to trickle in. 

Swain condeded shortly after.

Updated at 8:09 p.m.

As More Votes Come In, Cooper's Lead Stands 

Additional precincts have reported their votes, but the numbers for mayor haven’t moved much. Councilman John Cooper is leading in the race for mayor, ahead of current mayor David Briley by 10 points. Two more candidates have healthy slices of the vote, indicating a runoff is likely.

Here’s where the candidates stand with 30 of 161 precincts reporting (including early voting):

  1. John Cooper: 36%
  2. David Briley: 26%
  3. Carol Swain: 20%
  4. John Ray Clemmons: 15%

In recent elections, roughly half of voters chose to cast ballots early, and half on Election Day. A candidate must break 50% of the vote to win outright.

Should the contest go to a runoff, early voting would begin Aug. 23, with the runoff on Sept. 12.

— Tony Gonzalez

Updated at 8:06 p.m.

Multiple Runoffs Likely In Metro Council Contests

Crowded fields in several Metro Council districts are beginning to shake out, according to early voting totals and a few precincts reporting.

Several will likely lead to runoffs. Because of split votes, runoffs are possible in council districts 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 22, 23, 26, 30, and 32.

With many precincts yet to report, runoffs are also likely for mayor and the at-large council seats.

— Tony Gonzalez

Update at 7:56 p.m.

LGBT Candidates Competitive In Council Races

A record number of out LGBT candidates are running for Metro Council this year.

The Advocate reports seven were on the ballot, including two up for reelection. Both Nancy VanReece and Brett Withers appear to be headed back into office. 

The five new contenders are Emily Benedict, Russ Bradford, Charles Flowers, David McMurry, and Zach Young.

After early voting totals, Flowers is likely to compete in a runoff in District 5. Benedict is leading and likely headed to a runoff in District 7. Young is trailing, but only by a few percentage points in District 10. And Bradford is in position to be in a runoff in District 13.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund says only five openly LGBT elected officials are serving in all of Tennessee.

— Rachel Iacovone

Updated at 7:45 p.m.

Several Council Members In Tight Races After Early Voting

Some members of the Metro Council are in tight battles for reelection today, according to early voting figures. 

In District 2 in North Nashville, Councilman DeCosta Hastings got 37% of the early vote, in a race that appears headed to a runoff. Yolanda Hockett has 32% and Kyonzté Toombs 28% after early voting.

District 21 Councilman Ed Kindall also has a strong challenge. Kindall has 37% and challenger Brandon Taylor 29% in a five-way race.

District 23 Councilwoman Mina Johnson has 47% and her challenger Thom Druffel has 44%.

District 26 Councilman Jeremy Elrod trailed after early voting, with 38% to challenger Courtney Johnston 39%.

After early voting, several other incumbents have large leads:

  • Councilman Jonathan Hall in District 1 has a huge lead, with 83%.
  • Councilman Robert Swope has 63% in District 4.
  • Councilwoman Nancy VanReece has 71% in District 8.
  • Councilwoman Mary Carolyn Roberts has 74% in District 20
  • Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher has 83% in District 28.
  • Councilwoman Delishia Porterfield has 75% in District 29.
  • Councilwoman Antoinette Lee has 64% in District 33.
  • Councilwoman Angie Henderson has 66% in District 34.
  • And Councilman Dave Rosenberg 62% in District 35.

Meanwhile, eight incumbents ran unopposed and are headed back to their seats. Those members are: Brett Withers (District 6), Larry Hagar (11), Kevin Rhoten (14), Jeff Syracuse (15), Colby Sledge (17), Freddie O’Connell (19) Kathleen Murphy (24), and Russ Pulley (25).

Two additional newcomers are unopposed: former Metro Police Commander Robert Nash (27) and John Rutherford (31).

— Tony Gonzalez

Updated at 7:32 p.m.

After Early Voting, Close Contest For At-Large Council Seats

As expected, the highly competitive race for the Metro Council’s at-large seats appears headed to a runoff contest.

But with only early voting counted, some candidates do have a chance of earning a seat tonight. Candidates must get at least 10% of the vote and rank in the top five to win a seat outright.

Current At-Large Councilman Bob Mendes is at 11% after early voting, with council members Sheri Weiner (9.81%), Sharon Hurt (9.48%), and Burkley Allen (8.98%) close to the threshold. Also very strong: Zulfat Suara (9.01%). 

Here’s where all the candidates rank after early voting:

Early voting totals for Metro Council at-large seats.

The likely runoff would include twice as many candidates as there are remaining seats open after tonight. For example, if there are four seats still open for the runoff, the top eight vote-getters would be in that contest.

— Tony Gonzalez

Updated 7:28 p.m.

Voters Approve Proposed Metro Charter Changes

Two changes to the Metro Charter have been approved by Nashville voters.

Amendment 1, which requires more financial transparency from the mayor and city departments, received 83% of the vote in early voting. It would add debt information into each year’s budget, and Metro would create some new measurements of how city agencies are doing. 

Some council members say they need this when they decide how to spend tax dollars.

Amendment 2 is a technical change. It would give the city council the power to fill vacancies on the Metro School Board. The city’s lawyers say the change is needed to match state law.

In early voting, 85% approved of that change.

— Chas Sisk

Updated at 7:23 p.m.

Early Vote Gives Lead To Cooper, But Not Nearly Enough To Avoid A Runoff 

With only early voting tallied, Councilman John Cooper is leading in the race for mayor, ahead of current mayor David Briley by 10 points. Two more candidates have healthy slices of the vote, indicating a runoff is likely.

Here’s where the candidates stand after early voting:

  1. John Cooper: 37%
  2. David Briley: 27%
  3. Carol Swain: 20%
  4. John Ray Clemmons: 15%

In recent elections, roughly half of voters chose to cast ballots early, and half on Election Day. A candidate must break 50% of the vote to win outright.

Should the contest go to a runoff, early voting would begin Aug. 23, with the runoff on Sept. 12.

— Tony Gonzalez

Updated at 7:20 p.m.

Jim Shulman On Track For Re-election

Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman appears bound for another full term leading the Metro Council.

Shulman, who won the seat in a special election in 2018, secured 83% of the early vote.

The two-time Metro councilman is the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

More: Prior WPLN coverage of Jim Shulman

— Chas Sisk

Updated at 6:23 p.m.

Watch Party: A Mariachi Band Plays For Councilman Cooper

Election night watch parties are beginning to gather across Nashville.

Councilman John Cooper, in his bid to be mayor, is watching the results at the Elks Lodge on Jefferson Street.

The opening act there: Mariachi Los Potrillos from Glencliff High School.

WPLN reporters are covering watch parties with the leading mayoral candidates.

Blake Farmer is at the David Briley event at Woolworth on 5th.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is with John Ray Clemmons at Fort Houston; Meribah Knight is with John Cooper at the Elks Lodge; and Samantha Max is with Carol Swain at the Millenium Maxwell House hotel.

Polls close at 7 p.m.

— Meribah Knight

Updated at 4:20 p.m.

Technical Difficulty Reported At One Precinct

Nashville is debuting a new voting system during this year's city elections. So far, problems have been reported at one of Davidson County's 161 precincts.

Elections Administrator Jeff Roberts confirms that the scanner at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church on Ewing Lane wouldn't function when polls opened this morning. Technicians were dispatched and the scanner was back up by 9:15, Roberts says.

But under the new system, voting isn't complete until paper ballots are scanned. So poll workers asked voters to slide their ballots into a lockbox to be scanned later in the day.

Roberts says that's what they were trained to do.

"Any time you have mechanical equipment, it's going to malfunction sometimes," he says. "So this happened as we planned it to. We said, 'Here's the procedure,' and everyone followed it."

Roberts says the votes will be scanned today, with a Republican and a Democratic witness on hand to ensure they're counted.

It's not clear how many ballots were placed in the lockbox. Roberts says he'll update WPLN with a tally later.

Elsewhere, voters have largely been enthusiastic about the new process. During early voting, WPLN heard from multiple voters who praised the new machines.

— Chas Sisk

Nashville Turnout Was Down During Early Period

Election officials have expressed concern about lower-than-expected turnout during early voting, although the pace has been relatively brisk today.

During the two-week early voting period, 48,715 Nashvillians cast ballots. That was down 9.77% percent compared to the comparable 2015 election (but higher than last year's special election for mayor).

Officials did report strong turnout on the final five days of early voting this year.

As of Thursday afternoon, an Election Day turnout of 60,000 voters appeared feasible, said Davidson County Elections Administrator Jeff Roberts.

That kind of turnout today would surpass last year's special election turnout, when 82,368 cast ballots for mayor. In 2015, mayoral ballots hit 104,343.

— Tony Gonzalez

Early Voters Sound Off On Nashville Concerns

Several concerns have emerged as leading issues in this year’s Nashville elections. Voters say they’re worried about the pace of Nashville’s growth, the rising cost of living, and a perceived imbalance in which neighborhoods are receiving Metro services.

“For me, it would be affordable housing and the poverty line in town. And we seem to be having a huge gap between the haves and have-nots,” said early voter Sarah Howard, who works with the ACLU of Tennessee.

“I’m hoping for a more people-oriented government, people who really care about the low-income, elderly, handicapped people, and not just the politicians that care about the big money winners,” said voter Ginger James.

Candidates for the Metro Council's at-large seats spoke at a forum at Plaza Mariachi in June.
Credit Meribah Knight / WPLN

Multiple candidates have campaigned on neighborhood-centric messages, often criticizing the outsize attention that the downtown core generates. Those messages vary from questioning the boom in tourism to critiquing which major downtown employers received economic incentive packages.

“I’m tired of seeing all the money for hotels and tourism go to something else and Antioch seems like it’s being left out,” said retired mail carrier Steve Prescott. “I’m sure other communities feel the same way.”

Brenda North, a retired nonprofit leader, noted a similar concern, but said she wasn’t totally sure which candidates to trust.

“I don’t know if it’s just campaign talk, and we’ll see what happens when the person is actually elected,” she said, “but sometimes I think politicians know what to say, you know, to get the vote. But the proof is in what they actually do.”

— Tony Gonzalez

Voters Deciding On Mayor, Vice Mayor, Council, and Charter Changes 

More than 100 candidates are vying for office in the Metro General Election, which includes the contests for mayor, vice mayor and all of the seats for the 40-member Metro Council.

Voters are also considering two proposed amendments to the Metro Charter

Early voting turnout was down 9.77% in Nashville compared to the comparable 2015 election.
Credit Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

The pool of candidates is somewhat smaller than in recent years. Ten members of the Metro Council are running unopposed, plus two newcomers who didn’t have competition.

But the contests are more intense for mayor (10 candidates) and the five at-large council seats (15 candidates), which are voted on by residents countywide.

For Metro’s election and polling place information, visit Nashville.gov/vote. For further coverage from WPLN, visit our Election 2019 page.

— Tony Gonzalez