Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Who won and who lost in the District Council races and what it means.

by Rod Williams, August 7, 2023- The August 3rd election is behind us and with only three Council districts to be decided in the runoffs we can pretty much know what the orientation of the new council will be. Eighteen districts will have new members but a look at their interviews and webpages, the source of their contributions and the endorsements they received, we can pretty much know their political leanings. There was a progressive wave to this election but not a tsunami. This council will be further to the left, but just slightly. Unfortunately, a slight increase in the number of leftists on the Council can on occasion make a big difference. 

While I wish we had shifted in a more conservative direction rather than a more liberal direction it is worth remembering a couple things. First, overwhelmingly the votes of the Council cannot be classified a "liberal" or "conservative."  Potholes are not liberal or conservative. Most of what the Council does is routine, boring everyday legislating without an ideological component. A lot of what the Council does is zoning. While zoning can rouse passions there is not a liberal or conservative position on zoning.

Another thing to be mindful of is that about the only thing the radicals or the progressive majority can do on the Council is to engage in meaningless virtue signaling. They do this primarily by passing resolutions expressing the will of the Council. From time to time the Council weighs in on national or state issues like favoring abortion rights or opposing immigration enforcement or some other favorite liberal position. While I wish the more conservative and reasonable Council members would stand up and not allow these resolutions to pass unanimously, these resolutions have no impact. Congress nor the State care what the Metro Council thinks about these issues. It is simply a way for the Council to vent and virtue signal and has zero impact and is a waste of time rather than of any significance.

Another thing to remember is that we have a weak council-strong mayor system. The charter makes for a weak council and a forty-member body makes it weaker. The real power lies with the mayor. The make up of the Council matters but most policy and city priorities and fiscal management issues are decided in the mayor's office. 

Also, the Council cannot do a lot of things they may want to do because the state will not allow it. The State will not allow Nashville to become a sanctuary city, it will not allow Nashville to coerce builders to build affordable housing and limits the power of a police oversight board.  The city is chartered by the state and has limits on its authority. Beyond that, citizens have rights as U. S. citizens and Metro cannot do things like take property without due process and compensation, which the city has attempted with its sidewalk program. 

So, most of what the Council does is not controversial or even that interesting and there are limits to what the council can do.  A handful of radicals cannot do much. When a council member attempted to slash police funding by 42% she only got her vote and three others. We are still a long way from when a majority of the council would support such an insane radical proposal. We are not yet Portland, Oregon.  However, sometimes the vote of only one council member can have a big impact. When the Council cut $2.6 million from the budget for police, that funding was restored due to the leadership on a single Council member and the move to restore the funding only passed by one vote. With a more left-leaning council we may not have that one-vote margin on critical issues like adequately funding of the police. 

What is the make up of the new Council? Who are the radicals and who are the moderates? There is rarely more than a handful of conservatives on the Council but they can have an impact. Who will be the conservative voices in the new Council? Below I have looked at each district to try to gauge the ideological make up of the new council. This analysis may be subject to revision as I continue to gain more knowledge and will post an update if more information becomes available that would influence my opinion. Here is who won, who lost, and what it means. 

District 1: Joy Kimbrough won this race with 59.44% of the vote, beating four other candidates. I had not endorsed anyone in this race. There simply wasn't a viable good candidate. Kimbrough's campaign was the best funded of the candidate and she had the best credentials. She is a liberal lawyer. She had listed her top three priorities for the district as “district economic parity between neighborhoods,” “Transparency and Communication between the district and councilperson” and “Smart growth.” She was endorsed by Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Votes. I assume she will be one of the more left-wing leaning members but probably not Ginny-Welsch-crazy. (link)

District 2: KYONZTÈ TOOMBS is the incumbent and ran unopposed for reelection. She will be another dependable extreme liberal voice in the Council. 

District 3: JENNIFER GAMBLE is the incumbent and ran unopposed for reelection. Another solid progressive. 

Vote for
Davette Blalock
in the runoff. 
District 4: Davette Blalock is in a runoff. I was hopeful she would win outright but it didn't happen. There were three candidates in the race. Brian Sullivan, the candidate with the most progressive endorsements failed to make the runoff. Davette Blalock won 42.18% of the vote; Cortese got 40.56% and Sullivan trailed with 16.62%. Davette will face Mike Cortese in the September 14th runoff.

I am enthusiastically supporting Davette Blalock. She has previously served in the Council, is a solid conservative, has common sense, and works hard. This is crucial seat. While conservatives are terribly outnumbered, we need a strong voice for common sense and conservative values in the Council. Term-limited Councilman Robert Swope, one of the most conservative members of the Council who currently represents this district, is supporting her as his replacement. She is viewed 'favorable" by the Davidson County Republican Party. She has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Policemore

If you live in her district, please vote for her. We need this conservative voice in the Council. 

District 5: Sean Parker won reelection beating challenger TERRI LAINE KLINGNER. This race was not even close, Parker got 76.69% of the vote compared to Terri Klingner's 22.87%. Sean Parker probably ties Ginny Welsch as the most radical member of the Council. He is a founding member of the Democratic Socialists of America – Middle Tennessee chapter. 

District 6: Clay Capp won this race receiving 56.17% of the vote and candidate Daniel McDonell received 40.65%. Clapp has served as served as the Legal Director for the Tennessee Justice Center. He will be a champion of progressive causes. 

District 7: The incumbent Emily Benedict won 87.82% of the vote beating challenger DANNY WILLIAM who won 11.86%. Benedict is one of the more progressive members of the body. 

District 8: Deonte Harrell won with 51.58% of the vote beating Martez Coleman who got 47.88%. This was close. I was supporting MARTEZ COLEMAN.  Harrell had the endorsement of The Equity Alliance and Nashville Justice League. With those endorsements, one can assume he will be one of the radicals in the Council.

District 9: Congratulations TONYA HANCOCK! She is the incumbent and just barely squeaked out a win beating her opponent by only 34 votes!  Tonya Hancock got 50.89% of the vote and Stephanie Montenegro got 49.05%. Montenegro would have been among the block of radical Council members. She had the support of The Equity Alliance and Nashville Justice League. Tonya is a moderate common-sense member of the body. We can be thankful for this outcome. 

This is how the Nashville Banner reported on this race:

In District 9, Incumbent Tonya Hancock beat Stephanie Montenegro by a single point in what became one of the most-watched races in the city. Montenegro’s late entry into the race was a surprise, and District 9 quickly became the battleground for disagreement between two factions on the Metro Council. One section, made up of a group of five progressive members, endorsed Montenegro, a rare move against a sitting councilmember. CM Sandra Sepulvada even donated so much to Montenegro that money had to be returned for being over the limit. In response, 11 councilmembers endorsed Hancock. As the incumbent, Hancock had an advantage in fundraising and name ID, out-fundraising Montenegro by more than $10,000 in the second quarter. But after a late start, Montenegro caught up by the last disclosure, out-fundraising Hancock by $4,977, but it wasn’t enough. When Montenegro jumped in the race a full financial quarter later than Hancock, Hancock already had a big warchest on hand and outspent Montenegro by $28,176. 


District 10: JENNIFER FRENSLEY WEBB won beating incumbent Zach Young.
  I am pleased with this outcome.  She ran against an incumbent who needed to be defeated and did it.  It is hard to unseat an incumbent. Webb won 55.21% of the vote to Young's 44.24%. I think we can assume Webb will be a conservative on the Council.

District 11: Jeff Eslick came in first in this district with 38.17% of the vote, Eric Patton got 36.30%, Sherard Edington got 21.52% and Joe Delucas 3.71%. I was supporting Sherard Edington simply because term-limited incumbent Councilman Larry Hagar who I always considered a "good councilmen," endorsed her and she had the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Firefighters Union. 

Now, we will have a runoff between Eslick and Patton. Patton emphasized his support from Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, Central Labor Council, ChangeTN, SEIU Local 205, Metro Nashville Education Association PAC for Education and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Votes. With endorsements like that for Patton, I am supporting Jeff Eslick

District 12: ERIN EVANS is the incumbent who ran for reelection unopposed. She has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.

District 13: RUSS BRADFORD is the incumbent and ran unopposed. He is one of the members of the block of radical council members. We will have him for four more years unfortunately. 

District 14: Jordan Huffman was elected with 84.17% of the vote beating R.J. Mamula who got 15.08%. I don't know what to expect from Huffman. He received $5,000 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC. He had the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and Firefighters Union but also Central Labor Council, SEIU, LINUA, and the Metro teacher's union. I am assuming Huffman will be a mainstream liberal member of the body.

Council District 15: Jeff Gregg easily won this race with 74.12% of the vote to Dan Jones's 24.85%. Dan Jones was the conservative choice in this race. Jeff Gregg does not espouse any radical positions on his website, and he does not have the endorsements of the radical organizations. He has good credentials and community involvement. I am assuming he will be a mainstream liberal council member based on this limited information. 

District 16: Ginny Welsch was reelected garnering 52.3% or the vote, to Alexa Little's 47.38%. I am very disappointed in this outcome. Welsch is the most radical member of the Council. She was the leader of the effort to defund the police by slashing funding for the police by 42%. She is not only a radical, but also rude and crude and lacks class. She has a penchant for dropping the "F-bomb" and calling people fascist. 

District 17: Terry Vo won this race with 53.56% of the vote, with Teaka Jackson in second place with 29.35%, followed by Tonya Esquibel with 16.67%. This is a disappointment. I was supporting Esquibel. Vo had the support of the term-limited incumbent Colby Sledge. Terry Vo can be expected to be a part of the block of radical council members. Her website does not espouse a particularly radical agenda and really doesn't tell you much, however she received the endorsement of The Nashville Justice League and The Equity Alliance

District 18: Tom Cash won reelection with 69.84% of the vote to Angus Purdy's 29.71%. There was no one worth supporting in this race. Tom Cash is a progressive member of the Council and was one of the council members who signed a letter urging General Sessions judges to cease assisting ICE with the identification and apprehension of illegal aliens. He was one of the 15 Metro Council members who signed on to a resolution calling for Cooper to oust police chief Anderson because Anderson had issued an arrest warrant for riot leaders.  Angus Purdy said he would be a progressive voice for the district. 

District 19: Jacob Kupin won this race with 63.40% of the vote, with Jasper Hendricks III getting 19.74% and Jonathan Turner 16.18%. Kupin received several union endorsements including The Central Labor Council, SEIU and the teachers' union. District 19 is the downtown district including lower Broad.  Jacob Kupin raised $120,967, which is the most money raised by any candidate in any of the council races.  According to the Nashville Banner, $18,000 came from 10 different LLCs owned by Icon Entertainment owner Bill Miller. He received $5,000 from A Better Nashville, a political action committee with ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram of Ingram Industries and Nashville SC. I would expect him to be in the liberal mainstream of the Council.

District 20: Rollin Horton won this race with 73.91% of the vote compared to Scott Gillihan's 25.36%. He will likely be a mainstream council member based on his website information and endorsements.

District 21: Brandon Taylor won reelection with 67.01% of the vote and his challenger Jamel Campbell-Gooch won 32.63%. I supported Taylor because his opponent was so much worse. Taylor is a progressive, but his opponent was considerably more radical.  Brandon did receive the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police which is a plus in my view.  JAMEL R. CAMPBELL-GOOCH and his website is all about Black power. He is active with Southern Movement Committee which advocates abolishing police and jails. He advocated a Metro funded guaranteed basic income for Nashvillians. We avoided another extreme radical getting on the Council with this outcome.

District 22: SHERI WEINER was elected running unopposed. She formerly served in the Council. She is a Republican. I am pleased to see her return. 

District 23: THOM DRUFFEL was reelected with 76.94% of the vote and his challenger Lisa Williams got 22.80%. Thom Druffel has been a voice for responsibility and common sense on the Council and I am pleased with this outcome.

District 24: BRENDA GADD won this seat running unopposed. She will most likely be a mainstream big government liberal but not a radical. 

District 25: Jeff Preptit won this seat with 56.62%. David Ackerman got 35.97% and Rolando Toyos 6.90%. David Ackerman was the conservative in this race, and I was supporting him. Preptit's has good credentials and his website, while not saying a lot, conveys a moderate tone. He will probably be in the liberal mainstream of the council. 

District 26: COURTNEY JOHNSTON won reelection running unopposed. In my view she is one of the best council members serving. She is smart, does her homework, and is a person of integrity. With fewer conservatives in the Council, I hope Cortney will become more forceful in standing up to the radicals in the Council and become the leading voice for common sense and fiscal responsibility. 

District 27:  ROBERT NASH won reelection running unopposed. He has been a good council member and I am pleased he will be serving a second term. He is a retired MNPD Police Commander and will be an advocate for public safety. 

District 28: David Benton won this seat with 60.02% of the vote and his opponent Travis London got 39.44%. Craig Huey, a prominent conservative religious commentator has endorsed Benton and Benton has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Based on that limited information, I am assuming that Benton will align with the more conservative members of the body. 

District 29: There will be a runoff in this district between Tasha Ellis who got 44.40% of the vote and John Reed who got 23.59%. Other candidates in this race who did not make the cut were Michele Vetter with 18.62% and Jama Mohamed with13.06%. I had supported Michele Vetter. JOHN REED's website features a picture of him taking part in the disruptive "Tennessee Three" demonstration in the State House Chamber. Not that the Council can do much about the issue but Reed says one of his issues is to "Advocate for Reproductive Justice." Another part of his platform is "Defend LGBTQIA+ Rights." Ellis seems more mainstream however she received the endorsements of SEIU, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Votes and The Equity Alliance Fund. That is a reason to vote against her.

In this race, I am not making an endorsement at this time. Unless more information develops that indicates one of the candidates is considerably worse than the other and I lived in this district, I would write in my own name. There is no good candidate in this race.

District 30: SANDRA SEPULVEDA won reelection running unopposed. She is a radical. 

District 31: Unfortunately, John Rutherford won reelection with 52.05% of the vote, challenger and candidate whom I supported Dia Hart won 37.14% and "Write-In' got an astounding 10.81%. Rutherford is always a dependable vote for the most liberal position. 

District 32: JOY STYLES won reelection running unopposed. She is a typical progressive in the Council. Maybe worse than typical; she attempted to pass an ordinance in August of 2021 that would mandate, not recommend or request but mandate, the wearing of mask in public. We will be stuck with her for four more years. 

District 33: ANTOINETTE W. LEE won reelection running unopposed. She is another mainstream liberal but not a radical.

District 34: Sandy Ewing won this seat with 67.44% of the vote to Luke Elliott's 32.06%. Her website does not get specific about issues. She has an impressive resume. I expect her to be a moderate on the Council. She will probably favor more spending for mass transit but support funding the police. For more about her see this and this

District 35: JASON SPAIN was elected with 81.07% of the vote while his opponent Carson Smart got 18.11%. Spain appears to be qualified and a reasonable person. He received $7,500 from A Better Nashville and he had the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. 

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