COUNCIL AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
At-large council members make up five of Metro Council’s forty seats. At- large council members, just like districted council members, have the ability to bring forward legislation, serve on committees, and cast votes during council meetings. However, rather than just representing one district, at-large members represent every constituent in the county.
This year, twenty-one candidates are vying for the five at-large seats, two of which are running for reelection as incumbents. This is a four-year position with a two-term limit. Current districted council members can run for an at-large seat even if they’re termed out of their districted council member position; in fact, there are three current Metro council members doing just that. To help you get a better sense of who’s running, we’ve provided descriptions of each candidate, plus some useful links with more info on their platforms.
Remember, you have the ability to cast a vote for five of these at-large council members no matter where you live within Davidson County.
Russ Pulley has been an enduring voice of reason while serving as the representative for District 25, so we can expect him to bring consistency and common sense to the table as a member at-large. When most of his colleagues hopped aboard the defund-the-police train, Pulley, a former FBI agent, supported policing. For example, when a 2020 amendment to increase MNPD’s budget had no sponsor, he stepped up to carry it, earning the ire of some activists. He also held the line against Sean Parker’s BL1471 which redefined the term family. During his time on the council, Pulley has served on the Codes, Fair, and Farmers' Market Committee; the Public Safety, Beer, and Regulated Beverages Committee; and the Health, Hospitals, and Social Services Committee.
✰✰✰BURKLEY ALLEN (incumbent)
One of two incumbent at-large members running for office this year, Burkley Allen has been serving on Metro Council for over a decade. Well-informed, nuanced, and unafraid to stand firm in her principles, Allen engages with the community while grappling with emerging, recurrent issues in our New Nashville, including affordable housing and homelessness. A mechanical engineer by trade, she’s been a strong champion for canopy preservation, reducing light pollution, and other environmental efforts. She has served on the Budget and Finance Committee, the Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee, and the Public Works Committee.
A newcomer to the Metro political scene, Chris Chang describes himself as a “practical person.” The Antioch native, former army ranger, and current business owner, plans to improve city policy by putting his experiences, along with his formal education in business and public policy, to use. If elected, he plans to prioritize small business growth, infrastructure, and more investments to build a stronger sense of local community.
Bellevue resident Indrani Ray is the president & CEO of Harpeth & Blair, LLC, which analyzes data in order to maximize efficiency. Ray, who criticized 2020’s 34 percent property tax increase is running on a platform emphasizing her economic background. In addition to outlining the need for mental health and economic support in order to deter criminal behavior, Ray wants to do a line-item audit of MNPS.
Like Russ Pulley, Councillmember Jeff Syracuse is another districted representative trying to make the jump to member at-large. Known for his vested interest in the professional music community, Syracuse represented District 15 while maintaining his professional career at BMI. As far as his experience goes, Syracuse served as the President Pro Tempore (i.e., the CM who steps in for the vice mayor if need be) from 2019-2020, and has sat on both the Budget and Finance Committee and the Parks, Library, Arts and Recreation Committee. If elected, he plans to make affordable housing his number one priority.
ZULFAT "Z" SUARA (incumbent)
A current member at-large, Zulfat Suara is running for reelection. It is worth noting that Suara is the first Nigerian woman elected to any office in the United States, and the winner of the FBI’s Community Leadership Award. Suara, who is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, is a longtime advocate for affordable housing and higher wages. She has put her experience as an accountant to work when serving on the Budget and Finance Committee; the Affordable Housing Committee; the Education Committee; and the Personnel, Public Information, and Human Relations Committee.
Equity, police accountability, mental health, and serving the marginalized are the major cornerstones of Arnold Hayes’s campaign. A retired engineer and former MNPS teacher, Hayes has remained civically engaged in Nashville through his involvement with his church, the Nashville Organization for Action and Hope (NOAH), the Community Oversight Board, and the NAACP. If elected, Hayes maintains that he’ll strive for civility and compassion while tackling the major inequities that are part and parcel of rapidly developing cities.
Yolanda Hockett has worked at the Rite of Passage Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center for almost 30 years and is running to advocate for the youth of Nashville. Hockett ran for District 2 and lost to Councilmember Kyonzté Toombs, whom she appears to have graciously supported after her defeat. According to some literature from her District 2 campaign, Hockett outlined a balanced approach to public safety, one that supported and funded police officers and first responders while calling for transparency and accountability in the field.
An Eastside native, Purple Heart recipient, and a retired veteran of the social work and healthcare industries, Stephen Downs hopes to create more equity for Nashvillians. Specifically he outlined his desire to improve opportunities in both private and public education, support first responders, tackle affordable housing issues, and clean up Metro’s infrastructure on his Tennessean questionnaire.
Howard Jones is hitting the campaign trail with a plan called "One Nashville" that outlines equity for minorities disproportionately affected during the pandemic. Born and raised in Davidson County, Jones is an educational administrator for MNPS and the senior pastor at Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church. His priorities are equitable housing, education, transit, and better wages.
On her Tennessean questionnaire, Quin Evans-Segall stated that the way Metro Government currently operates has “failed to rise to the challenges of our growing city.” An attorney and native Nashvillian,Evans-Segall plans to build coalitions, create new laws, and update Metro’s tired systems and procedures. Endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Segal’s top issues seem to revolve around abortion rights, equity, and gun control.
Though Delishia Danielle Porterfield is currently serving her first term as the council member for District 29, she’s probably most widely known for supporting and nominating Justin Jones as the interim state representative for District 52 after his expulsion. This display of solidarity was significant, considering Porterfield lost to Jones during the primary race for District 52 last year. A champion for progressive values and a staunch supporter of the city’s labor unions, Porterfield is the director of leadership and advocacy at Stand Up Nashville, a local activist group originally co-founded by Odessa Kelly. Stand Up lobbies the council often. So often, in fact, that the question of whether there is a conflict of interest between Porterfield’s two jobs has been raised on a few occasions during discussions on the floor. Porterfield has served on the Budget and Finance Committee; the Education Committee; and the Health, Hospitals and Social Services Committee. If elected, we’re sure she’ll continue to push back against the TNGOP in her quest to achieve equity for all.
A fourth-generation Nashvillian and Navy combat veteran with over 30 years in the engineering industry, Hill is the first ever transgender woman to run for office in Davidson County. Endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Hill’s top priorities include improving infrastructure and housing the homeless.
Listing institutions, companies, and entities Marcia Masulla hasn’t been a part of may be easier than listing all the things she’s involved with. Masulla did a stint in Mayor Cooper’s office, worked for both the Tennessean and USA Today, co-founded Nashville Fashion Week, and served on the boards for the Belcourt Theatre, Stand Up Nashville, and Inclusion Tennessee— just to scratch the surface of her resumé. She’s currently the CEO of Roar Nashville, a strategic communications firm Her platform, which is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, is centered primarily on LGBTQ+ advocacy and abortion rights.
Another native Nashvillian, Jonathan Williamson’s passion for community involvement started at a young age and, if elected to office, he plans to create more opportunities for Nashville’s youth to serve their city. This includes creating more leadership programming and increasing funding for the arts. An MTSU alumnus with a degree in communication and a passion for African American studies, Williamson plans on being a strong advocate for the black and brown communities in Nashville.
A stand-up comedian and author of the Scene’s "The Advice King" column, Chris Crofton decided to throw his hat in the ring to create a equitable Nashville that fights against fascism. A quick look at Crofton’s Tennessean questionnaire makes it clear he has no interest in coming to an understanding with the GOP supermajority. We at The Pamphleteer believe you have to work with others to get things done, but we digress.
- One-on-one interview
- Campaign website
- Candidate's Twitter
- Sometimes an Instagram picture is worth a thousand words
RONNIE E. GREER, SR
Not sure what council district you're in? Enter your address and find your district here. If you're interested in early voting, there are multiple polling locations open to voters at various times. Visit the early voting schedule here. On election day, your polling place will be assigned to you and will be open from open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Find your election day voting location here.
- July 5, 2023: Voter registration deadline
- July 27, 2023: Absentee ballot request form deadline
- July 14, 2023: Start of early voting
- July 29, 2023: End of early voting
- August 3, 2023: Election Day
- List of Candidates: Metropolitan General Election
- List of Candidates: Metropolitan General Election Certified Write-ins
- List of Candidates: TN House District 51 Special Primary Election
- List of Candidates: Endorsed by Planned Parenthood