Withers a winner as Foster, VanReece move on to Sept 10 runoff
LGBT candidates went 3 for 5 in the Nashville city election August 6. See the final tally for all races here (via WSMV).
East Nashville community leader Brett Withers handily trounced incumbent Peter Westerholm in district 6. The East Nashvillian of the Year won 2144 votes versus Westerholm’s 1315. Though the incumbent was an ally to the LGBT community in Nashville — as lead sponsor of last year’s partner benefits legislation, and among the first to marry same-sex couples in the city upon June’s Supreme Court ruling — locals were concerned about his availability to constituents when compared to Withers’ wholly grassroots relationship-building efforts.
In an O&AN exclusive, Withers provided us with this statement:
I am humbled by the remarkable level of grass-roots, neighborhood-based support that my campaign for Metro Council District 6 garnered. The August 6th, 2015 election results clearly show that my campaign's message of restoring community voices deeply resonated with District 6 voters. As a Metro Council representative, I will continue to work hard to seek input from District 6 residents and business owners in decisions affecting us and our neighborhoods. I appreciate the endorsement of Out And About Nashvillenewspaper for the Metro Council District 6 race to represent all of Nashville's families.
In truth, all of Nashville’s five LGBT candidates could not possibly have won a seat because both social worker Paula Foster and entertainment attorney Chris Cotton ran in district 17. The four way race will be decided in a runoff election September which will see Paula Foster — who earned O&AN’s endorsement earlier this summer — against Colby Sledge. Foster received 700 votes versus Sledge’s 936.
On Facebook, Chris Cotton offered the following:
Hey friends and family! The results are in and we didn't make it. However I feel great about the honest and sincere campaign we ran. I can rest easy knowing that my integrity is intact and we ran a great race! Thanks to Tony Watson! I'm a better man for knowing you! To Paula Foster and Colby Sledge I wish you the best of luck in the run off! It's off to the races!
Paula Foster linked to this Tennessean article and commented:
Thanks to everyone who believed in our campaign. I'm so grateful for your support. Now let's get back to work, there's an election on September 10th and this time I'm coming out on top!
In district 8, Nancy VanReece handily won more votes than each of her five opponents, gathering 871 votes. Despite that, she will face Chris Swann (with 558 votes on Aug. 6) in a runoff.
VanReece forwarded the text from an email blast she sent out, when a request for comment was made from O&AN:
Thank you to our amazing community for getting out the vote and participating in hundreds of discussions about the amazing future that is ahead for District 8. I look forward to speaking with you again in the next few weeks as we move forward to our victory on September 10th. -
We have narrowed the race from six to two and it is time to close the deal. I'm going to need your help! Please contribute to our run-off campaign and sign up to volunteer. We will need all hands on deck right away!
In the At-Large race, despite seeming overwhelming support from our community, John Lasiter received 9120 votes compared to top vote-getter Erica Gilmore who received four times that amount with 36,469 votes. Both Lasiter and Gilmore were endorsed by O&AN. In the At-Large race the top ten candidates automatically move into the runoff. Lasiter placed 19th out of 26 total candidates.
In an O&AN exclusive, Lasiter provided us with the following statement:
History was made last night. With over 9,000 Nashvillians pushing their button for Lasiter, our campaign received more votes than any LGBT candidate in Tennessee history. There was a campaign defeat, but I've never felt more like a winner. Our community is on the right track, the divide between the self-proclaimed hierarchy of the gay community and the rest of us has been eliminated.
We have engaged and inspired our community to come together and support their future. We have bridged gaps with other members of Davidson County's never before thought possible. We changed hearts and minds throughout the county and we could not be more grateful for our supporters and could not be more enthusiastic about our community’s future. Thank you Out & About for the incredible work you have done for myself and all openly gay candidates this election.
Nancy VanReece (center) photo via Facebook