NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Nashvillians head to the polls, one of the largest choices they’ll have before them is who they want to lead the city from the mayor’s seat for the next four years. Freddie O’Connell and Alice Rolli were the top vote-getters in the August general election, pitting them against one another for the top spot in the Nashville government.

Here is where they stand on some of the most important issues facing Nashville.

Alice Rolli

According to Rolli, the theme her campaign has heard “over and over again” is Nashville needs to make sure it is “investing in our next generation.”

“Look, only 20 percent of our kids are graduating career and college ready,” she told News 2’s Kendall Ashman in a recent interview. “We’re 95th out of all 95 counties. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we shouldn’t expect a different result.”

Rolli said an important goal for her is “becoming a critical friend to our school system,” in order to “make sure we are raising standards across the city and that we are listening to parents.”

Secondly, Rolli said, public safety tops the list for resident concerns, and she vowed to continue to “work productively with our police and with our neighbor county police forces as well to make sure that we are tackling crime.”

Finally, Rolli said city management was important to her campaign.

“I think having a more entrepreneurial leader who’s ready and is experienced at making decisions,” she said, would be paramount for the next four years. “We’ve got to be in a direction to lead our city in this next chapter.”

Nashville’s police force is significantly smaller than other similar cities, she said, advocating for continued use of license plate readers to assist police officers in tackling crime, including stolen cars, stolen guns and other violent crimes.

When it comes to the East Bank development, Rolli said she was happy to see that plan come forward and was supportive of the direction it’s going. “We are taking 80 acres that have been parking lots and bringing that back under the city’s purview.”

She said the value of the land in question would be critical in future planning, including bringing more transportation avenues to that portion of town in order to alleviate traffic congestion on Interstates 24 and 65, as well as increasing housing in the area. She has also advocated for relocating the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to the new East Bank development to help revitalize the area.

Rolli said her job as mayor would be to look at how to bring the city together and move forward while investing in all of the neighborhoods of Nashville.

On tackling homelessness in Nashville, Rolli said what the city needed to do was to make sure that all associated nonprofits working toward reducing homelessness in Nashville were focused on their shared goal.

“We need to stop focusing on who gets the credit and start worrying about the outcome, which is making sure that a family experiencing homelessness has the services both from the federal state and local level that they need to get their lives back on track,” she said.

Freddie O’Connell

O’Connell said the biggest overarching issue facing Nashville is the fact that it has “just gotten harder to live in Nashville and feel like you’re making progress, able to stay here, happy to stay here.”

The overall cost of living affects multiple areas of the city, most commonly the lack of affordable housing.

“These issues wind up related,” he told News 2’s Adam Mintzer in a recent interview. “If you want to have a pathway to home ownership in Nashville, that’s a big deal. If you want to find a reasonable apartment to rent, that’s a big deal. But they’re connected to our lack of transit system.”

O’Connell highlighted the work of the Barnes Housing Trust Fund as “one of the biggest, most successful projects” in Nashville that addresses affordable housing.

Transit, as well, has been a cornerstone of O’Connell’s campaign, telling News 2 it was also an affordable housing policy.

“It’s how my family found a pathway to home ownership,” he said, noting he reduced his household costs for transportation in order to save up more money for a down payment on a house.

Public safety was also top of mind for O’Connell, who has called for an increase in officer pay for Metro Nashville Police officers. While the city took a great step in that directions recently by budgeting for one of the largest cost of living adjustments (COLA) thanks to an improved fiscal position for the city, Nashville still had room to grow in order to remain competitive in terms of officer pay. He cited the recent increase in pay for Tennessee State Troopers granted by the state, saying Nashville needed to follow suit in order to keep the best officers on the force.

O’Connell also lauded Chief John Drake for bringing in best practices like co-responses and officer recruitment and crime prevention strategies, saying they went hand-in-hand to reduce crime rates in Nashville. He said recent studies have shown slight reductions in overall crime with larger reductions in violent crime in areas that have implemented Drake’s crime prevention strategies.

O’Connell said some of the work he did as a Council Member in gathering data and putting together task forces to collect information on homelessness in Nashville has been great, citing the $50 million investment approved by Metro Council using one-time funds to combat homelessness. But while that information was necessary, O’Connell also said as mayor, he would continue pushing for more resources to be allocated in order to make the city more competitive for federal money beyond one-time allocations like COVID relief funds.

On the East Bank development, O’Connell said he was glad to see Nashville becoming a more popular name for expanded sports opportunities, but future investments needed to come from private funds, not public monies.

“This is not a time where we need to make any more record-setting public investments in sports facilities,” O’Connell said. “Right now, what we need are record-setting investments in sidewalks and schools, safety, quality of life scenarios.”

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Rumors about potential MLB and WNBA franchise expansions in the city continue swirling, which O’Connell said could be great for Nashville—on their own dime.

“I’m happy to talk new franchises,” he said. “If Major League Baseball wants to come be in Nashville, that’s great. We can talk about where they’re located, and we can welcome their fully private investment in a stadium.”

Relatedly, O’Connell said the East Bank development would be “one of the most important things we do as a city for the next four years.”

“We know the Titans want to play football in a new stadium by 2027, and that means Metro’s going to have obligations to get the infrastructure right, to get the parks and green spaces in as good a shape as we can.”

However, he cautioned, as Metro takes over as the “master developer” of the project, the city must “demonstrate that we can provide enough affordable housing so that somebody working in the stadium could have a chance to live in that footprint, where we are actually starting to create that housing scenario.”

Voting begins at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, and runs through 7 p.m.

During the early voting period, more ballots were cast than in several of the last few elections, including runoffs, according to the Davidson County Election Commission.