Another Thursday Evening Quarterback Nashville Election Review

There will be no loss for commentary on the outcomes of tonight’s elections in Nashville, so I don’t know why I feel the need to offer my two cents. However, as someone who watches our leaders carefully, who engages with them in bettering our city, and who cares deeply about the process of governance, I do have some thoughts as to tonight’s events:

  1. Mayor Dean won. Is anyone surprised? Look, this race was pretty much over before it started when no viable opponent was willing to challenge the Dean juggernaut and the Tennessean had declared the race all but won prior to the filing deadline. Mike Craddock’s entry into the race might have made it interesting, but the powers that be had spoken and there were simply no dollars to be found. However, while Dean’s re-election was assured, this move to chase off viable challengers ultimately led to a election about which there was little excitement, and which had one of the lowest turnouts ever. While Dean won 80% of the votes cast for mayor, it’s not insignificant that over 25% of the total voters either voted for candidates who basically were on the ballot but did not run, OR did not vote in the mayoral race at all (with almost 5,000 persons choosing to not vote in the mayoral election, more than voted for Marvin Barnes). That still means that Mayor Dean received 75% approval of those voting in this election, but it’s hard to see how having the votes of 8% of the total residents of Nashville represents a mandate.  He is to be congratulated for his victory, but shouldn’t mistake this victory with an overwhelming sense of approval citywide.
  2. Some two-thirds of those voting chose to support the changes in the Metro Charter related to the fairgrounds issue. I’m not so sure that this is as big of a rebuke of that mayor as some might think given that there was no campaign against this amendment. What is clear is that there are a bunch of folks for whom the fairgrounds has meaning as a place of significance in their lives, and that blindly suggesting the closing of the place probably won’t fly.
  3. I was surprised that all five incumbent at-large delegates were re-elected with no run off. I thought that Crafton, Wilhoite, and Coleman had a chance to pick off Maynard but there was obviously support that wasn’t that as visible my way. I know some of my progressive buddies don’t particularly like Coleman, but having worked with Sam I think he could have been an interesting voice that would have provided different insight from one of the largest and most diverse communities in the city, Antioch.
  4. I simply don’t understand District 5, and especially the support for Pam Murray. I would have thought her political career over, but she won’t go away. I imagine that the votes for Eaton and Bryson will likely go to Davis and carry him over the top, but District 5 is certainly an interesting place.
  5. While I was hopeful for Nancy VanReece in District 8, I feared that the re-districting that moved her from District 6 to 8 would not serve her well, and it didn’t. However she ran strong and I think may still have a future in politics ahead of her.
  6. There were really no surprises from District 11 (where I live) as Darren Jernigan has been a popular incumbent. There are still undercurrents of distrust in the community from the Lakewood vote (debacle?) but folks are beginning to move forward and Darren should be able to be a part of that movement.
  7.  I don’t know what to make of District 13 other than when you look at the district, very little of the land area is residential. It seems like Stites and Robinson represent different visions and experiences, and I am inclined to think Sandidge’s support will go to Stites.
  8. What can you say about District 16. Anna Page cast her lot with the mayor and it doesn’t seem to have worked for her.
  9. I was happy to see Emily Evans clone (according to Randy Rayburn, that is) Burkley Allen prevail in District 18. I frankly think Allen can think well enough on her own, but it is good to have a neighborhood leader like Allen on the council. It’s also good to know that a good grassroots campaign like Allen’s can take on the Nashville Chamber (personified in Randy) and win.
  10. It’s unclear whether District 20 is settled given a late breaking e-mail from Mary Carolyn Roberts regarding a meeting she had at the Election Commission. I know that Buddy Baker had come for a bit of criticism in the neighborhood leaders e-mail group and it will be interesting to see if he becomes less willing to work with neighbor groups this go around.
  11. Congrats to my friend Jason Holleman in prevailing in District 24 in the face of the formidable bevy of heavy hitters supporting Sarah Tally. My sense is that residents resented the outsider attempts to undermine their councilman by the mayor’s minions, but Jason worked hard and deserves respect for not folding under the pressure.
  12. I’ve seen several progressive folks (most notably Sean Braisted) suggest that Dominy in District 28 and Duvall in District 33 were ignoring their districts in their pursuit of other Republican pursuits. There is no doubt that they are on the right of the political spectrum (with Duvall being the more reactionary of the two). But Sean was wrong in the accusations of their ignoring their districts, as I have seen them again and again at meeting after meeting trying to address the needs of their communities. I think Dominy’s re-election shows that he may be more reflective of his district than many might imagine. Duvall has a tougher row to hoe, and a more formidable candidate in Page Turner (she’s run against him before). I don’t really know where Kincaid’s support will land, but don’t ignore Duvall’s support from the small section of land along Hopson Pike across the lake which really is more in tune with Mt. Juliet than Nashville.  There are lots of reasons to challenge Duvall’s political philosophy (hey, I even thought about challenging him back when I lived in his district) but don’t question his work ethic.
  13. What happened in District 29? Name recognition and hard work. Karen Johnson has worked that area tirelessly since leaving the school board, and simply outworked the opposition.
  14. The shocker of the night — Jason Potts win over Jim Hodge. What made the difference? I’m wondering if the re-districting which brought some of the former District 32 (Coleman’s district) into District 30 may have been the turning point.

I could say more about my beloved District 32 (congratulations Jacobia!) or the historic nature of the District 31 election (congratulations Fabian) but others will do that well. I’m simply glad this is over so that we can get on with the business of trying to help Nashville be a great city.


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