NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In addition to the choice for mayor, Nashville voters also have to choose which four candidates will join Zulfat “Z” Suara as an at-large Metro Councilmember during the Metro runoff election next week.
But what is an at-large councilmember, and how does it differ from a district councilmember?
Per the terms of the Metro Nashville charter, the Metro Council is a 40-member body comprised of 35 district councilors and 5 at large councilors. Each district elects one person to represent them on the Metro Council, but the at-large councilors are elected by the full electorate of Metro Nashville-Davidson County.
While district councilmembers focus on more localized issues relative to their respective districts, taking ideas, concerns and suggestions from their neighborhoods and advocating for things like rezoning issues, traffic safety and local developments, at large councilmembers take a look at issues affecting Nashville as a whole.
They, too, can advocate for the neighborhoods they live in, but they also work with Nashvillians across the county to enact larger-scale solutions.
According to Bob Mendes, who just completed his second term as an at large councilmember, the two types of councilmembers are meant to “balance each other out” between a “hyper-local” and city-wide perspective. While district CMs represent about 20,000 people for their terms, the at large CMs represent all 700,000 Nashvillians across Metro Nashville-Davidson County.
“District councilmembers get a lot more very local things like a neighbor’s grass being overgrown or streetlights out in their neighborhood or looking into intersections with problematic traffic, and an at large councilmember, in a given time, only really get constituent service calls like that from a handful of districts,” he told News 2. “At large members could be expected to have more time on their hands for big citywide issues. If you get 50 constituent service emails in a day, it’s harder to focus on big citywide issues.”
Being an at-large CM does not hold any more weight when it comes to voting, however. Each CM receives just one vote per issue on the Metro Council agenda. And all CMs are term-limited, Mendes added. CMs can serve two consecutive four-year terms, according to a 1994 Metro Charter amendment.
Early voting for the Metro runoffs is happening now and ends on Saturday, Sept. 9. The runoff election will take place Thursday, Sept. 14.
Candidates for the four remaining at large seats are Burkley Allen, Chris Cheng, Quin Evans-Segall, Olivia Hill, Howard Jones, Delishia Porterfield, Russ Pulley and Jeff Syracuse. For more election information, including where you can find your polling place for Election Day, click here.