Last updated on May 7th, 2018 at 10:55 am
Tuesday was an exciting night in the city’s history. The stakes were high as Nashville voted in the election primaries and for the Transit Referendum. When the night was over, most candidates with prior government experience fared well, and Nashville’s transit future remained unsure.
By almost a two to one margin, the citizenry voted ‘no’ to the Transit Improvement Program Referendum. Not surprising, most of the opposition to the plan came from outside the Downtown core, from areas that would receive the least benefit from the plan.
“We all can agree that we have to do something about traffic and transportation, but voters didn’t get behind this plan,” said staunch transit ally Mayor David Briley. “My responsibility as mayor is to get back to the drawing board and find the common ground to develop consensus on a new way forward. Our transportation problems are not going away. In fact, we know they’re only going to get more challenging as we continue to grow. I’ll get back to work tomorrow on finding a solution for Nashville that we all can agree on.”
“Last night was a disappointing evening the thousands of Nashvillians who said they wanted a transit system that allows everyone to get around our city cheaply, safely and more reliably,” said Transit for Nashville representatives in a letter.
“Unfortunately, there were many others who did not. We want to thank you, all the members of our coalition, the voters of Nashville, our volunteers who spent countless hours in the community and on the phone, and the thousands of Nashvillians who signed our petition and made their voices heard during nMotion and Nashville-Next.”
In a letter issued Wednesday, influential Nashville businessman and former mayoral candidate, Bill Freeman said: “I am both frustrated and hopeful following the resounding failure of the referendum to enact the Chamber-led mass transit plan Let’s Move Nashville. I am relieved that we will not be burdened with the excessive cost of a system ill designed to adequately address our current and future traffic problems. This plan would have been wasted frustration for our residents, a distasteful presence for our visitors and a fiscal burden for our future generations.”
One bright spot is that Nashville elected its first Hispanic judge, prosecutor Ana Escobar.
“I am humbled and honored by tonight’s results,” said Escobar. “I will work hard every day to keep the integrity of the bench and to make sure victims of domestic violence are safe in our city and that everyone who comes before the court receives fair and just treatment.”
Escobar defeated the incumbent, former Metro Councilman Nick Leonardo who was appointed in January to fill the position left open by Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton. Dal-ton had been appointed to a position in Criminal Court by Gov. Haslam.
Meanwhile, former councilman and incumbent, Judge Sam Coleman easily retained his seat as judge for General Session Court Division 10, and former Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods & Community Engagement, Lonell Matthews defeated state Rep. Sherry Jones for Juvenile Court Clerk.
Councilwoman Karen Johnson received over 55% of the votes in the Register of Deeds contest, defeating Richard Exton.
In other race, attorney Scott Tift lost in a disappointing race to Anne Martin for Chancellor, Chancery Court Part 2, and Criminal County Clerk Howard Gentry and Sheriff Daron Hall both made statements by winning their respective races by over 80%.
With no Republican opponents, Democratic primary victors are assured the win in the general election in August.