by Jim Schmidt
Thursday, August 1st is Election Day for Metro Nashville – Davidson County. This year, the eyes of many people in the community are focused on a historic first in the fact that there are seven openly LGBT candidates for Metro Council. Back in 2007, Keith Durbin became the first LGBT member of the Metro Council when he won a seat unopposed in District 18. A few years later, two more LGBT candidates, Brett Withers and Nancy VanReece, won competitive races to become the councilpersons for Districts 6 and 8 respectively. Nashville’s large number of competitive LGBT candidates is unusual and a first for a major Southern city.
The LGBT Victory Fund, a national organization which supports LGBT candidates across the country at all levels of government, currently counts only five openly gay elected officials in the state. If these candidates are successful on Thursday, the state could more than double that number. The Victory Fund has currently endorsed all seven Nashville candidates and one Memphis council candidate (Davin Clemons). Jerred Price, an LGBT candidate, is also running for a Memphis City Council seat. Here’s a quick rundown of all the LGBT candidates on the ballot in Thursday’s election.
In District 5 covering parts of East Nashville, Charles Flowers faces two opponents. Flowers is an educator in the school system and has been active in the McFerrin Park neighborhood.
Incumbent Councilman Brett Withers is running unopposed in East Nashville District 6. Withers has represented his district for four years and has successfully navigated the challenges of his rapidly changing district.
District 7 is an open seat in Inglewood and Madison and includes the largest number of challengers of any race. Realtor Emily Benedict who has been active in the LGBT community for a long time as a former member of the local HRC Steering Committee and a board member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce is running for this seat.
Current Councilwoman Nancy VanReece faces a conservative challenger for her District 8 seat in Madison and Inglewood. VanReece highlights a number of accomplishments for her district including more street lights, positive development in the district and the recent announcement of impending move of Music City Roots to Madison.
In District 9, David McMurry is running for this Madison council seat. McMurry is a former member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce board as well as former president of the Madison Chamber of Commerce. He faces two opponents in this race.
Zach Young faces off against a former councilman in the Goodlettsville area District 10 seat. Young is currently a member of the Goodlettsville City Commission and would be one of the youngest new members of the Metro council.
In District 13, first-time candidate and quality assurance specialist, Russ Bradford, is running to represent the council seat that covers the airport and surrounding communities. Bradford faces the most openly vocal anti-LGBT candidate running this year who has received some national attention for his homophobic and racist remarks.
With so many candidates running, it could be a truly historic night on August 1st with LGBT representation covering Nashville from the Cumberland River downtown all the way to the northern county line and over to the airport.
Polls are open from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm across Davidson County on Thursday, August 1st. To find out voter and polls information as well as election results, go to https://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission.aspx.