Nashville elects Megan Barry its first woman mayor

An exuberant Megan Barry addresses supporters at Nashville Farmers' Market after introductions by Rev. Harold Love [at right] and Howard Gentry [at left]. photo by Cass Teague

An exuberant Megan Barry addresses supporters at Nashville Farmers’ Market after introductions by Rev. Harold Love [at right] and Howard Gentry [at left]. photo by Cass Teague

In the most expensive mayoral contest in city history, the voters of Metropolitan Nashville Davidson county made history their way in the September 10 runoff election following an August 6 “primary” election. By electing Megan Barry, Nashville will soon welcome its first woman mayor. Some felt that the weather might play a factor in the contest, as African American voters are said to be notorious for shunning rain and inclement weather on election day. But in this instance, the tide of voters for progressive mayoral candidate Megan Barry overwhelmed conservative David Fox, and the final margin of 60,519 for Megan Barry to 49,694 for David Fox left no doubt as to the will of the public to elect an experienced, visionary, compassionate leader to take Nashville forward.

Barry joins John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Sharon Hurt, Bob Mendes, Jim Shulman, Loniel Greene, Decosta Hastings, Brenda Haywood, Scott Davis, Nancy VanReese, Holly Huezo, Colby Sledge, Mary Roberts, and Mina Johnson as winners in the runoff election.

“You, the Nashville voters,” Barry said at her victory party at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

“This one is going to go down in the history books. It’s all about the fact that today, you went the polls, and you elected the first woman mayor.”
She had prefaced that statement by declaring that “this is really a story about our working families….all those families who are the backbone of our economy, who need access to transportation, excellent public education, and affordable places to live. Our working families need a mayor who is going to create prosperity for everyone.”

She expressed her sincere gratitude to her family, her “kitchen cabinet” of advisors, campaign staff and supporters, singling out a few by name, specifically her husband Bruce, their son Max, her parents, Gov. Phil Bredesen, Howard Gentry, Charles Robert Bone, Leigh Walton, Claudia Huskey, Sean Braisted, and legions of volunteers and voters.

“Tomorrow our real work begins,” she said. “This is a job I know I have been preparing for for the last eight years, because I get to walk into that office and I actually know how it works.”

Newly elected Metro Council At-Large member Sharon Hurt shares victory with her brother Stan Wilson at WKND on election night.(Photo by Cass Teague)

Newly elected Metro Council At-Large member Sharon Hurt shares victory with her brother Stan Wilson at WKND on election night (photo by Cass Teague)

In hotly contested Metro Council races, ten candidates vied for the five at-large seats available. West Nashville developer John Cooper, brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, earned the most votes (56,802) to lead the field. Cooper will be joined by outgoing District 19 Councilwoman Erica Gilmore (49,996), attorney Bob Mendes (41,160), North Nashville community development executive Sharon Hurt (38,317), and former councilman and small business owner Jim Shulman (37,676), each garnering more than 37,000 votes. Their five competitors — Karen Bennett (33,052), Erin Coleman (34,877), Robert Duvall (31,925), Jason Holleman (31,763), and Lonnnell Matthews (32,807) garnered fewer than 35,000 votes each.

New council member Sharon Hurt said that she believes the job of At-large Council member is to help those in need.

“This is a calling for me. It’s a ministry, a higher acceptance of what God has already given me, and I’m just trying to walk in that direction and do the things that need to be done.”

District 2 Metro Council election night celebration features [l-r]: Bessie "Auntie" Hanserd, Jonathan Parrish, former Metro councilman Kwame Leo Lillard, councilman-elect Decosta Hastings, his wife Johnetta Hastings, and Tracey Dean.(photo by Cass Teague)

District 2 Metro Council election night celebration features [l-r]: Bessie “Auntie” Hanserd, Jonathan Parrish, former Metro councilman Kwame Leo Lillard, councilman-elect Decosta Hastings, his wife Johnetta Hastings, and Tracey Dean.(photo by Cass Teague)

In the several districts that were in play, Loniel Greene narrowly won district 1 with 2,064 votes to 2,027 for Nick Leonardo; Decosta Hastings defeated Robert “Bobby” Stockard 1,349 to 1,123 in district 2; Brenda Haywood won district 3 by 1,675 over Terry Clayton’s 1,371 votes; Scott Davis won re-election in district 5 with 1,081 votes to 990 for challenger Sarah Martin; and in district 8, Nancy VanReece won with 1,347 to Chris Swann’s 918. In district 13, Holly Huezo’s 907 votes bested Mark Cole’s 805; in district 17, Colby Sledge won decisively with 1,357 to 1,077 for Paula Foster; in district 20, Mary Roberts narrowly defeated Marisa Frank 981 to 912; and in district 23, Mina Johnson won decisively over Jim Roberts by a 3,381 to 2,327 margin.

Now the task of implementing a smooth transition to a new administration after eight years begins.

The winners will be inaugurated in a ceremony to be held on September 25.