Progressive Councilmember Freddie O’Connell wins Nashville mayor’s race
Sep 15, 2023, 10:41 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Freddie O’Connell, a progressive member of Nashville’s metro council, has resoundingly won the race to become the next mayor of the Democratic-leaning city, according to unofficial results.
Results from the Davidson County Election Commission show O’Connell defeated conservative candidate Alice Rolli in Thursday’s runoff election by a wide margin, with all precincts reporting. Candidates in the race do not run with party affiliations.
Since 2015, O’Connell has served on the combined city-county government’s council, representing a district that covers downtown Nashville. He succeeds Mayor John Cooper, who decided not to seek reelection.
O’Connell, whose campaign touted him as the “only truly progressive candidate running for mayor,” said he wants to make the city “more ’ville and less Vegas,” a reference to the “Nashvegas” moniker sometimes used to liken the huge boom in tourism in the city to Las Vegas.
“Every part of this city deserves the public resources that bind neighborhoods and neighbors together — schools, parks and libraries,” O’Connell said in a victory speech. “And when we do that, our interactions with our local government should leave us feeling satisfied that a real person worked to solve our issue.”
Down the ballot, Olivia Hill won an at-large metro council seat to make history as the first transgender candidate to be elected to office in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Hill’s victory stands in contrast to Tennessee’s Republican leadership in state government, where lawmakers have passed a series of restrictions on the rights of transgender people.
“My expertise is fixing things, and while my focus is repairing Nashville’s outdated infrastructure, I also want to ensure that our city is represented with true diversity in a state where the ruling party thinks I should head to the closet,” Hill said in a news release Thursday after her win.
With Thursday’s elections, a majority of Nashville’s metro council will also be female.
In a Nashville special election for a vacant state House seat, Democratic activist Aftyn Behn easily won over a Republican opponent in a left-leaning district. Behn helped organize rallies in support of the three Democratic Tennessee lawmakers who were targeted for expulsion — Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis, who were expelled; and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, who was spared by one vote. Jones and Pearson have seen been reappointed, then reelected, to their seats.
In 2019, Behn was removed from the House gallery by state troopers for yelling during a House floor session that then-House Speaker Glen Casada should resign.
The seat became vacant after Democratic Rep. Bill Beck died in June.
The Associated Press did not tabulate the results for the races.