Friday, August 04, 2023

Alice Rolli makes the runoff! Report from the Alice Rolli watch party and thoughts on the election.

by Rod Williams, August 4, 2023- I am so excited to see Alice Rolli make it to the runoff last night. She will face Council member Freddie O'Connell in a runoff in six weeks. O'Connell won yesterday's election with 27.13% of the vote and Alice Rolli came in second with 20.21% of the vote.  Other front runners followed with Matthew Wiltshire getting 16.97% of the vote, State senator Jeff Yarbro with 12.19% and Heidi Campbell 8.23%.

I was at the Alice Rolli watch party and had a great time. It is exhilarating to win, and last night a win was making it into the runoff. Just a few days ago, polls showed Alice Rolli and Matt Witshire neck and neck for second place. As we watched the returns come in precinct by precinct one could see the momentum build and confidence of victory grow.

I saw a lot of old friends and met people I had not known before. I met the reporters with the publication The Pamphleteer and enjoyed our conversation. I talked to David Fox, whom I had not seen since his election for mayor. I met Alice Rolli's mother and sister.  I met retired Tennessee National Guard Brigadier General Kurt Winstead who ran in the Republican Primary for the 5th Congressional District last go around. We had an interesting talk about the rising isolationism in the Republican Party. It was good to see Tony Watson, former candidate for the Metro Council in the same district that I used to represent which is now represented by the leftist firebrand Ginny Welsh. You can guess what we talked about. I talked to Council member Courtney Johnston, in my view one of the brightest, hardest working, and most principled members of the body. I am glad she was reelected to a second term.  I also met Dia Hart, unsuccessful candidate for District 31. I had supported her campaign and had talked to her on the phone but never met her in person. And there were lots of others.

The watch party took place at Coco's new event space. Coco's is long-time authentic Italian restaurant in town and one of my favorite places to eat. We were fed dinner and the cafeteria style dinner was just as good as what you order in the restaurant. The food was great, there was wine and a nice jazz band. I was there from about 7PM till 10:30PM.

In addition to the Alice win, another good outcome of this election was to see Councilman Russ Pulley make it into the runoff for an at-large seat. Russ Pulley is a voice of reason and a champion of public safety who last term beat back an attempt to cut the police budget

In the at-large race, Council Member at-large Zulfat Suara won over 10% of the vote, so she wins one of the five at-large seats outright. The next eight candidates will compete for the remaining four seats. Here is how, Suara and the next candidates scored: 
Zulfat Suara 10.66%
Delishia Porterfield  9.06%
Burkley Allen 7.97%
Olivia Hill 6.78%
Howard Jones 6.65%
Quin Evans-Segall 5.95%
Russ Pulley 5.88%
Chris Cheng 5.78%
Jeff Syracuse 5.42%

Despite the excitement of seeing Aice Rolli make the runoff and Russ Pulley make the runoff for at-large, they still have to win the next election. Also, it is generally disappointing to see what happened in the Council races.  I am pleased to see Davette Blalock make the runoff, but I was hoping she would win outright.  

I have not yet done a district-by-district examination of the council races, but I know the Council tiled further to the left. Here is part of what The Pamphleteer had to say:

Last night, ten of the fifteen candidates endorsed by the Nashville Justice League won their council positions outright, with three at-large endorsees advancing to the runoff. NJL is a progressive political organization that counts among its allies Sandra Sepulveda, Ginny Welsch, Delishia Porterfield, and Sean Parker—all of whom retained or won their seats and are fervent O'Connell supporters.

To get a sense of who these people are, here's a quick summary:

I'll do a deeper dive into the results of the election for individual council races soon. We need to make sure that those reasonable or conservative candidates who made it into the runoff, win the next round. The most important race, however, is the race for mayor. Despite Nashville having a large council, we have a relatively weak council. The real power lies in the mayor's office. 

We have a real clear choice in the upcoming election.  With such a crowded field, for many people it was difficult to tell the candidates apart in yesterday's election. With a choice of candidates narrowed to a choice between O'Connell and Rolli, there is a stark contrast and a clear choice. On crime, education, fiscal management, and taxes, I hope Nashvillians will choose the voice of sanity rather than to continue our downward spiral. 

While candidates and candidates' close supporters always appear cheery and optimistic, we need to face reality and realize this is an uphill battle for Alice to win this runoff. It will be a challenge to convince people who voted for Heidi Campbell in this election to vote for Alice Rolli in the runoff. While the contrast between the candidates is clear, Nashville is a progressive city. I am not so sure many Nashvillians would not rather be like Portland, Oregon and Chicago rather than Miami. It is disappointing but progressives have the edge. 

On the other hand, there is still a significant number of sane Democrats and Republicans in Davidson County. Trump was not a normal Republican, yet he got 36% of the vote in Davidson County. So, there is a sizeable number of voters who consider themselves conservative. In addition, I believe there are a sizeable number of Democrats who believe we are taxed enough, who believe we need more police instead of fewer, and who believe our schools can be better and the school board should be held accountable for better results. If one adds together Republicans and sane Democrats, I believe they constitute a majority. This election can be won by Alice Rolli, if sane Democrats and Republicans turn out and vote. 

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