Previewing Nashville’s upcoming mayoral election

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 12, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Twelve candidates running in Nashville’s Aug. 3 mayoral general election
  2. Here’s what noteworthy presidential candidates are saying about K-12 education
  3. Maine voters to decide right-to-repair initiative in November

Twelve candidates running in Nashville’s Aug. 3 mayoral general election

We have about three weeks until Nashville’s mayoral general election on Aug. 3 (yes, that’s a Thursday).

Twelve candidates are running to replace incumbent Mayor John Cooper (D), who is not running for re-election. The winner will become the city’s fourth mayor in five years.

In 2018, former Mayor Megan Barry (D) resigned after pleading guilty to a felony theft charge stemming from an extramarital affair while in office. Vice Mayor David Briley (D) assumed office and won a special election to serve the remainder of Barry’s term. Briley ran for re-election in 2019, where he lost to Cooper.

According to an early June poll, 45% of respondents were undecided.

Here’s a look at the candidates who have led the field in media coverage and fundraising:

  • State Sen. Hedi Campbell (D), who has represented District 20 since 2020;
  • Jim Gingrich (D), the former chief operating officer of an investment firm;
  • At-large City Councilmember Sharon Hurt, in office since 2015;
  • District 19 Councilmember Freddie O’Connell, in office since 2015;
  • Alice Rolli, a former political strategist and owner of a student travel organization;
  • Davidson County Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, in office since 2016;
  • Matthew Wiltshire, an economic development and housing executive; and,
  • State Sen. Jeff Yarbro, who has represented District 21 since 2014.

In that June poll, O’Connell led with 10%. Yabro was second with 9%, followed by Campbell and Wiltshire with 8%.

The race is officially nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels. Campbell, Gingrich, Hurt, O’Connell, Wilhoite, Wiltshire, and Yarbro are affiliated with the Democratic Party, while Rolli identifies as a Republican.

Other candidates on the ballot include Natisha Brooks, Fran Bush, Bernie Cox, and Stephanie Johnson.

A candidate must receive a majority of votes cast to win outright. Otherwise, the top-two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on Sept. 14.

The Nashville Scene and Nashville Banner have published a series of questionnaires asking candidates about “four key issues that will face the city’s next mayor: homelessness, education, transit, and crime.” You can use the links to view candidates’ responses.

Nashville, the country’s 20th most populous city, has a strong mayor government, where the mayor serves as chief executive, and the city council operates as a legislative branch. The mayor’s responsibilities include proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors, and overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations.

As of July 2023, Democrats held 63 mayoral offices in the county’s 100 most populous cities, Republicans held 24, and independents and nonpartisan mayors held 11. Two mayors’ partisan affiliations were unknown.

Keep reading 

Here’s what noteworthy presidential candidates are saying about K-12 education

Here’s a sneak peek of an upcoming story in Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on education policy and politics.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at what noteworthy presidential candidates are saying about K-12 education based on some of their recent statements.

President Joe Biden (D)

Biden spoke with members of the National Education Association (NEA), the country’s largest teachers union, on July 4. At the event, Biden said, “Let’s stand with teachers and educators against politicians who are trying to score political points by banning books.”

Earlier this year, Biden released his Fiscal Year 2024 budget plan. In it, Biden is seeking $90 billion for the Department of Education—a 14% increase from 2023.

Biden’s 2024 campaign website does not include a section on education.

Former President Donald Trump (R)

On June 30, Trump spoke at the annual summit for Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit focused on school board elections.

In his speech, Trump said, “On day one, I will sign a new executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing critical race theory, transgender insanity, and other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content on our children.” Trump also said he would eliminate the Department of Education.

Trump’s 2024 campaign website lists “Protect Parents Rights” as one of his top issues.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

DeSantis also spoke at the Moms for Liberty summit on June 30 after having delivered its keynote address last year.

In his speech, DeSantis said, “we have enacted a parents’ bill of rights in the state of Florida because we understand that the purpose of our school systems are to support the communities, to support students and parents. It is not to supersede the rights of parents.”

DeSantis’ 2024 campaign website does not include a section on education.

Three other presidential candidates—Nikki Haley (R), Asa Hutchinson (R), and Vivek Ramaswamy (R)—also spoke at the Moms for Liberty summit. We’ll have more on their stances in Hall Pass arriving in email inboxes later today (July 12).

The remaining noteworthy candidates—Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (D), Marianne Williamson (D), Doug Burgum (R), Chris Christie (R), Larry Elder (R), Will Hurd (R), Mike Pence (R), Tim Scott (R), Corey Stapleton (R), and Francis Suarez (R)—have not made any recent statements regarding K-12 education and for that reason are not included here.

As we move further into the election cycle, we’ll start bringing you in-depth information about presidential candidates’ stances on many issues. Check out our coverage of the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections for a sense of what’s to come.

And click on the link below to subscribe to Hall Pass! New editions hit your inbox every Wednesday afternoon, so subscribe to keep up to date with the biggest education stories from across the country.

Keep reading 

Maine voters to decide right-to-repair initiative in November

Maine voters will decide a right-to-repair initiative on Nov. 7.

The initiative would give car owners and independent repair facilities the same access to onboard diagnostic systems and wireless data that manufacturers and approved repair facilities can currently access.

We’ve mentioned this initiative a few times this year. The Maine Right to Repair Coalition, the initiative’s sponsor, submitted more than 80,000 signatures on Jan. 19. The secretary of state verified the initiative the following month.

And then—a pause!

Maine is one of nine states that has an indirect initiative process. Under this system, once the secretary of state verifies an initiative, it goes to the legislature. In Maine, specifically, legislators can then either approve, propose an alternative, reject, or take no action on the initiative.

If they approve the measure, it goes to the governor, who can sign the initiative into law. If they propose an alternative, it appears on the ballot alongside the submitted initiative. And if they reject or take no action on the initiative, the submitted initiative proceeds to the ballot.

With this measure, in particular, lawmakers took no action by the end of the legislative session on July 6, sending the initiative to the November ballot.

Kate Kahn, a representative for the Maine Right to Repair Coalition, said, “This issue is about choice. Consumers want the ability to choose where to take their cars or trucks to be repaired. They do not want to be told they can only take their autos to expensive dealerships.”

Massachusetts was the first state to pass right-to-repair legislation, doing so in 2013. But this did not include wireless accessibility. In 2020, Massachusetts voters approved Question 1, expanding the law to encompass that data.

In response, a group representing automakers filed a lawsuit, arguing the 2020 law is unenforceable because it conflicts with federal law and “makes personal driving data available to third parties with no safeguards to protect core vehicle functions and consumers’ private information or physical safety.”

The status of Massachusetts’ law remains in flux. Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell (D) began enforcing the law on June 1 of this year. Auto manufacturers asked a federal judge to stop its implementation, which was denied. Then, on June 13, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told automakers not to comply with the initiative, saying it conflicted with federal vehicle safety laws.

In total, Maine voters will see three initiatives on their November ballots. Lawmakers also took no action on an initiative that would require voter approval for state entities and electric cooperatives to incur debts exceeding $1 billion. And earlier this year, legislators voted to send to the ballot an initiative to create a power company. We brought you a deep dive into that proposal in May.

As of July 9, 33 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the ballot in eight states for elections in 2023.

Keep reading