Durbin makes Tennessee history

Keith Durbin has become Tennessee’s first elected openly-gay official after winning in his bid for Metro Council district 18. Durbin ran unopposed and received 1,692 votes according to unofficial results. A write-in candidate received 32 votes.

“I'm thrilled to have earned the opportunity to represent the people in District 18,” Durbin said. “I don't view myself as a major gay activist, but I do believe this victory shows that an out person in Nashville can gain the experience, nurture the relationships, and be thought by the voters as a person capable of handling the responsibilities of elected office. What I really feel is pressure to do my best, for all of Nashville.”

Durbin is well-known in his district. He has served as president of the Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors for five years and is positing himself as a strong voice for neighborhood interests. Durbin works for HCA Information and Technology services. His partner of 12 years is Gary Bynum, who is vice president of human resources for Homeland Security Corporation.

Shane Burkett, another openly-gay candidate who challenged incumbent Jim Gotto for the council seat in District 12, lost by less than 850 votes, with Gotto getting 1,749 votes versus Burkett’s 893 votes, according to unofficial returns.

“We ran a great race and made lots of new friends,” Burkett said, noting that he received almost 900 votes as a political newcomer. “I can’t say thank you enough to those who helped in the campaign and those who voted for us.”

Durbin said he had his focus on several priorities for his first year in office, most of which center around quality of life issues for neighborhoods.

“As a district councilperson, one of the main responsibilities is to work with people and businesses in the neighborhood on quality of life issues that affect everyone, everyday,” he said. “This includes safer streets, better sidewalks and planning and zoning issues - issues I've learned a lot about as president of the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood association for the last five years. Second, I'll work to establish solid relationships, not only with people and business owners in the district, but as importantly, with the other council members, the vice mayor and mayor. Investing the time up front to build trust and respect will make a big difference in the kinds of things I will be able to accomplish as a member of Metro Council. Building bridges across traditional divides like race, gender, orientation, and even geography is central to Nashville’s continued prosperity. Making sure those bridges get built and stay strong is the responsibility of every elected official in Metro government."

Durbin added that one of his personal goals was to become one of the most accessible members of Metro Council.

“I also hope to be known as the most accessible members of the council, so I’m already working on ways to stay hands-on active in community events and activities,” he said. “Hopefully e-mail and the Web will also help me hear and respond to the concerns of my constituents while still having the time to keep my day job.”

As Tennessee’s first openly-gay elected official, Durbin offered some advice to those in the GLBT community who want to seek public office.

“My core advice for a gay candidate would be the same I'd give to a straight candidate,” he said. “I think what works for me is that both Gary and I have been very involved in our community for many years. We've got strong relationships with hundreds of people who are as passionate about our neighborhood and Nashville as we are. When you are very involved and are willing to serve in local organizations over time it’s hard not to develop a positive reputation as a trusted, effective advocate. People take notice of service and personal commitment and that makes them more willing to trust and support you than someone they haven’t come to know personally.”

In other election night news, Karl Dean and Bob Clement will face each other in a run-off election on September 11.

Diane Neighbors made history as Nashville’s first female vice-mayor, beating challenger Carolyn Baldwin Tucker by more than 20,000 votes.

Tim Garrett, who was endorsed by the Tennessee Equality Project Political Action Committee, was the only candidate to win an at-large seat on the Metro Council. The September run-off election will determine the other four at-large spots.

Eight candidates will vie for the remaining four council-at-large seats. The remaining candidates are Ronnie Steine (9.7%), Megan Barry (9.3%), Charlie Tygard (7.8%), Jerry Maynard (6.6%), Saletta Holloway (5.5%), J.B. Loring (5.2%), Ronnie Greer, Sr. (4.8%) and Luvenia Butler (4.6%).

Garrett won 11.4% of the vote - just over the 11.1% minimum to guarantee a council seat.

In district council races, incumbents retained many of their seats. According to unofficial returns for the Aug. 2 Metro General, the following candidates lead their district races for Metro Council. In the September 11, election many of these candidates that did not garner more than 51% of the vote will face contenders in a run-off.

District 1

  • Ken Jakes 37.1%
  • Lonnell Matthews, Jr. 24.5%
  • William Mason, Jr. 23.9%
  • Andre Southall 10.1%
  • Felicia Wilson 4.4%

District 2

  • Frank Harrison 51.4%
  • Terry Clayton 48.6%

District 4

  • Michael Craddock 54.3%
  • Freda Evans 45.7%

District 5

  • Pam Murray 60.5%
  • Sam McCullogh 39.5%

District 8

  • Karen Bennett 31.8%
  • Randy Reed 23.4%
  • Albert Berry 21.0%
  • Rod Boehm 16.0%
  • Jason Hart 7.7%

District 11

  • Darren Jernigan 46.4%
  • Rick McClintock 39.5%
  • Johnny Ellis 14.1%

District 12

  • Jim Gotto 66.2%
  • Shane E. Burkett 33.8%

District 13

  • Carl Burch 60.9%
  • Tony Derryberry 39.1%

District 14

  • James Bruce Stanley 66.9%
  • Harold White 33.1%

District 15

  • Phillip Claiborne 51.4 %
  • Larry Keeton 36.9%
  • Gary Neal Howell 11.7%

District 16

  • Anna Page 48.9%
  • Tony Tenpenny 20.8%
  • Charles French 14.8%
  • Jerry Austin 13.4%
  • Karen Van Dyke 2.7%

District 17

  • Frank Stevenson 24.6%
  • Sandra Moore 19.9%
  • Cordenus Eddings 19.2%
  • Gregory Wood 11.7%
  • Rossi Turner 11.5%
  • Cynthia Owsley 9.5%
  • Chris Lugo 3.5%

District 19

  • Erica Gilmore 57.1%
  • Freda Player 27.9%
  • David Shaw 6.5%
  • Janice Davis 4.6%
  • Keith Pitts 4.0%

District 20

  • Buddy Baker 63.9%
  • Billy Walls 16.7%
  • Brenda Inglis 13.5%
  • Lillian Pharris 5.9%

District 21

  • Edith Taylor Langster 45.4%
  • Harold Love 43.3%
  • Eldridge R. Simmons 11.3%

District 22

  • Eric Crafton 57.0%
  • Juliet Lamb 43.0 %

District 23

  • Emily Evans 53.8%
  • Craig Andreen 46.2%

District 24

  • Jason Holleman 38.6%
  • Katherine Beasley 33.4%
  • Irwin Venick 25.9%
  • Gary Pennington 2.1%

District 28

  • Duane Dominy 55.8%
  • Jacobia Dowell 44.2%

District 29

  • Vivian Wilhoite 72.6%
  • Paul Collins 27.4%

District 31

  • Parker Toler 68.8%
  • Fabian Bedne 31.2%

District 33

  • Robert Duvall 51.7%
  • Page Turner 39.8%
  • Albert Bender 8.5%

District 34

  • Carter Todd 60.7%
  • Lisa Pote 39.3%

District 35

  • Bo Mitchell 56.1%
  • Donald Johnson 43.9%
Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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