What To Expect In Nashville’s Election | Nashville Public Radio

What To Expect In Nashville’s Election

May 20, 2019

There are 111 candidates who have qualified for Nashville’s citywide election in August, which includes the races for mayor, vice mayor and the 40-member Metro Council.

But that’s actually fewer people running for local office than in recent years — and the ballot could still shrink a bit more, as candidates have until noon Thursday to withdraw their names. (See Metro's full candidate list here.)

Here are a few observations following the candidate qualifying deadline:

No Contest

There are nine seats on the Metro Council with just a single candidate, meaning a straight path to serving.

Of these, most are unchallenged incumbents seeking a second term: Council members Brett Withers (District 6), Larry Hagar (11), Kevin Rhoten (14), Jeff Syracuse (15), Colby Sledge (17), Kathleen Murphy (24), and Russ Pulley (25).

But there are two open seats in which candidates will walk right onto the council for the first time without a challenge.

That’s happening in District 27, where former Metro Police Commander Robert Nash is the sole qualifier, and District 31, where John Rutherford is the only candidate.

Crowded Fields

There are some pockets of competition, like the mayor's race.

Ten people are vying for the city’s highest office, although only four are raising serious campaign cash: current Mayor David Briley, state representative John Ray Clemmons, Metro Councilman John Cooper, and former Vanderbilt University professor Carol Swain.

The contest for vice mayor features two well-known council members. Current Vice Mayor Jim Shulman is facing At-Large Councilwoman Erica Gilmore. A third candidate, Robert Sawyers, Sr., has also qualified.

Some district council seats have drawn high interest.

For example, the District 7 council race in the Inglewood area has eight people seeking that seat.

Among incumbents, Councilman Ed Kindall faces the most challengers in a five-way race for District 21.

Council’s At-Large Seats Are Coveted

The Metro Council includes five at-large council seats, which are voted on by residents countywide. The contest is usually highly competitive, and that appears to be the case again this year.

The at-large candidate pool is somewhat smaller than usual, with just 15 battling for the five seats. But of those, six are current council members who are known for tackling complex policies and for being among the most vocal in the group (all six are regularly quoted in WPLN stories).

But that’s not all. The at-large race also includes a former councilman, a former state lawmaker and a leading activist behind the police oversight movement — all of whom have shown they can move voters to action.

Familiar Names, And Some Firsts

Former council members and state lawmakers appear in several places on the ballot, as well as a past member of the Metro School Board.

Others are attempting to make local history.

At-large council candidate Zulfat Suara is seeking to become the first Muslim elected in Nashville.

And Sandra Sepulveda, who is in a four-way contest for Council District 30, is trying to become the first Hispanic woman on the council.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story misstated an incumbent council member's district and misspelled two names. Brett Withers is the District 6 councilman; Colby Sledge represents District 17; and Russ Pulley represents District 25.