Just enough Metro Nashville City Council members voted to prevent an individual from joining the Fair Commissioners Board because she was Black – not Hispanic, as they’d wanted. The motion to appoint Vice Mayor Jim Shulman’s recommended candidate – Sandra Moore – failed by one vote only because of the color of her skin.
The bid to appoint Moore failed during last week’s committee meeting. During their meeting, council members opposed to Moore didn’t discuss the merits of her qualifications. The Rules, Confirmation, and Public Elections Committee had just approved her hours before.
Shulman explained to The Tennessee Star that, per the charter, Moore can’t come up for renomination for at least one year. He explained that Moore was his pick because of her knowledge of the area and contributions to the council during her tenure.
“I went looking for someone that knew the constituents and knew what the issues were. Sandra Moore kind of fit all those categories,” stated Shulman. “She’s just a good, solid person. There’s a lot of issues with the fairground, the speedway, that are pretty complicated, difficult issues.”
Council member Steve Glover told The Star that Moore was beyond qualified, and shouldn’t have been turned down.
“I voted for her because she’s qualified. The fact that she’s Black is irrelevant to me. I was offended when they voted against her,” stated Glover. “I regret he’s unable to renominate her.”
Along with Glover, other council members who voted for Moore were Sharon Hurt, Burkley Allen, Jonathan Hall, Jennifer Gamble, Robert Swope, Brett Withers, Nancy VanReece, Tonya Hancock, Larry Hagar, Russ Bradford, Jeff Syracuse, Tom Cash, Brandon Taylor, Thom Druffel, Courtney Johnston, Robert Nash, Tanaka Vercher, John Rutherford, and Antoinette Lee.
Council members who voted against Moore’s appointment were Ginny Welsch, Freddie O’Connell, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Gloria Hausser, Kathleen Murphy, Russ Pulley, and Joy Styles. Six members abstained their vote: Bob Mendes, Kyzonté Toombs, Sean Parker, Colby Sledge, Sandra Sepulveda, and Angie Henderson.
During the meeting, members opposed to Moore’s appointment focused on the fact that she wasn’t the ideal diversity pick that they’d requested.
In addition to not presenting the right race, O’Connell mentioned that he wasn’t sure about Moore because she’d be the second former council member on the board.
“[I] am definitely given pause with not finding someone that was not more consistent with clearly expressed preferences of both the minority caucus, the district member, and a few others on this body[,]” stated O’Connell.
Glover defended that Moore does have a connection with the community she would be representing.
“[S]he does have the history, she understands the area, she understands the votes, she understands what the people of Nashville voted for,” stated Glover.
Styles followed up Glover’s remarks by dismissing Moore’s qualifications as less important than representation with their preferred race for this seat.
“I am sure council member Moore is great and was great previously – but not what we are asking for right now, and [it’s] difficult to be asked to make a decision between a former council member and who we requested,” stated Styles.
Hurt pointed out that although the minority caucus had previously endorsed another candidate, they said they would support the council’s decision once that candidate wasn’t in the running any longer.
Ultimately, the vote came down to 20 in favor of Moore’s appointment – just one vote short of approval.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send tips to [email protected].
Photo “Nashville Fairgrounds Sign” by Nashville Fairgrounds.