Early voting begins today for a special election to fill a vacant seat on Nashville’s Metro Council. The District 33 seat was vacated by former councilman Sam Coleman, who was recently sworn in as a Nashville judge.
Early voting continues through Aug. 10 and election day is Aug. 15. District 33 covers part of Antioch. To see a map of District 33, click here.
The Metro Council has 40 members, 35 of whom are elected by district and five who elected at large.
Nashville elections are nonpartisan, but the city, long a Democratic stronghold, has been on an increasingly progressive trajectory. A recent Metro Council push to make Nashville a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants was evidence of the trend.
However, in part because of growing public opposition, the council members who sponsored the sanctuary city bills eventually withdrew them, revealing that progressivism in Nashville has its limits. A poll commissioned by The Tennessee Star showed that likely voters in Nashville and Davidson County were divided on the issue. In District 33, there was a statistical tie between supporters and opponents.
Despite the attention on sanctuary cities in Tennessee and across the country, the five candidates in the District 33 race have made little or no mention of it, focusing instead on other issues affecting their communities. Antioch is growing fast and facing related problems, such as traffic and how to best plan for the future. The area also struggles with overcoming its past issues with crime and ongoing issues with providing quality education.
The District 33 candidates are:
Jack Byrd III – Byrd is a former reserve officer for the Lynnville Police Department in Giles County and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department. He also has worked for the U.S. Marshals Service. He has a master’s degree from Cumberland University in public service management. A former SEIU Local 205 member and steward, he has the endorsement of the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, part of the AFL-CIO. He recently spoke at an event held by Davidson County Democratic Women, according to his Facebook page. Byrd’s campaign is hampered by accusations of extortion. He has been indicted in Giles County on two charges of extortion for allegedly trying to coerce an alderman into reinstating the reserve officer program after voting to disband it. In 2015, he was investigated in Davidson County for coercing administrators to change his schedule. The sheriff’s department fired him, but then he sued, which led to a settlement and Byrd being able to retire in good standing.
Martez Coleman – A native Nashvillian, Coleman has lived in District 33 for more than 12 years with his wife and three children, according to his Facebook campaign page. He is a loan officer with First National Bank in Murfreesboro. He says he will work hard to foster safe communities, support development opportunities and improve roadways affecting daily commutes. Coleman went to John Overton High School and studied business finance and management at Lipscomb University. He has been involved with local and state ministries, including Nashville Inner City Ministry.
Tim Herndon – Herndon has lived in District 33 since 1993, according to his campaign website. He and his wife of 30 years raised their two children there. With his wife, he started a small company called Financial BluePrint that designs and builds group insurance programs and provides HR services to companies and individuals. Some of their clients are Tennessee city and county governments, which Herndon says has given him insight on local government. Herndon told The Tennessee Star that he is opposed to sanctuary cities but is not making it the focus of his campaign. He has been endorsed by the Davidson County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Antoinette Lee – Lee is a field organizer for the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) teachers union. State Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) attended her campaign kick-off, and Reps. Jason Powell (D-Nashville), Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) and Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) were on the host committee. Lee has a bachelor’s degree in education from Norfolk State University and a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, according to her Facebook campaign page. Lee is married and lives in Apple Valley in District 33, where she is a member of the Apple Valley Homeowners Association. She is involved with the new members ministry at Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church and is a volunteer with Preston Ministries and Love Helps. She says she is committed to ensuring that District 33 has safe neighborhoods, great schools and strategic growth. Like Byrd, Lee has been endorsed by the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
Michael Mayhew, Sr. – Mayhew moved from Brentwood to the Cane Ridge area of Antioch in early 2014 and is active in his homeowners association, according to his campaign website. He says he is not asking for or accepting campaign contributions from people in the community, though won’t stop anyone from making handmade signs. He says he is focused on supporting small businesses, promoting family values and education, and helping those with genuine needs, including the homeless and people with physical impairments, and those who need affordable housing. Mayhew also says Metro Council members should be transparent and available to people in the community who have questions. Mayhew and his wife have four children and five grandchildren. A West Virginia native, he grew up around Washington, D.C., and Maryland in a poor family headed by a single mother. He says he learned valuable lessons from those experiences on getting off welfare. Formerly a federal police officer, he has worked for many years now as a business intelligence consultant.
More information about the candidates can be found on the Facebook page District 33 Nashville, which was set up as a discussion forum for the election. Click here for the site.