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Twelve Candidates Vie For Nashville Mayor In Nonpartisan Election

Nashville's mayor's office seeks stability amid crowded field and uncertain voter sentiment.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Twelve candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election for mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, on August 3, 2023. If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a September 14, 2023, runoff election.

Incumbent Mayor John Cooper (D) did not seek re-election.

“In a matter of weeks, Nashville will elect its fourth mayor in five years. Following the 2018 resignation of Mayor Megan Barry in the wake of political scandal, the mayor’s office has been besieged with instability,” said The Nashville Scene while describing the race. 

“A June 2-4, 2023, poll from Public Policy Polling showed the greatest share of respondents, 45%, saying they were undecided on who they would support in the race,” said Ballotpedia.

The following candidates lead the field in media coverage and campaign finance:

  • Tennessee State Senator Heidi Campbell, who has represented District 20 since 2020.
  • Jim Gingrich, the former chief operating officer of AllianceBernstein, an investment firm.
  • At-large Nashville Metro Council member Sharon W. Hurt, who has served on the council since 2015.
  • Nashville Metro Council member Freddie O’Connell, who has represented District 19 since 2015.
  • Alice Rolli, the owner and manager of Worldstrides, a student travel organization, and former political strategist.
  • Davidson County Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, who has served in that office since 2016 after serving two terms on the Nashville Metro Council.
  • Matthew Wiltshire, an economic development and housing executive who previously worked at Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency.
  • Tennessee State Senator Jeff Yarbro, who has represented District 21 since 2014.
Mayor John Cooper speaks onstage during the Love Rising show at Bridgestone Arena on March 20, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. The Incumbent Mayor will not seek for re-election. JASON KEMPIN/GETTY IMAGES

Though the race is officially nonpartisan, Campbell, Gingrich, Hurt, O’Connell, Wilhoite, Wiltshire, and Yarbro are affiliated with the Democratic Party, while Rolli identifies as a Republican.

The Nashville Scene and the Nashville Banner published a series of questionnaires asking the candidates listed above about “four key issues that will face the city’s next mayor: homelessness, education, transit and crime.” 

 Natisha Brooks, Fran Bush, Bernie Cox, and Stephanie Johnson are also on the ballot.

Nashville has a strong mayor government, where the mayor serves as chief executive and the city council operates as a legislative branch. The responsibilities of the mayor include proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors, and overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations.

As of June 2023, Democrats held 62 of the mayoral offices in the 100 largest cities in the United States, Republicans held 26, independents held three, and nonpartisan mayors held seven. Two mayors’ partisan affiliations were unknown.

Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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