NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While results are not official until certified by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, a record number of women will lead the Metro Council when it reconvenes this fall.
This year’s election and runoff saw a whopping 22 women elected to the 40-member body, including the all-female slate of At Large Council members. In addition, the council will be led by a woman in Angie Henderson, the former District 34 Councilwoman. Henderson bested incumbent Vice Mayor Jim Shulman in the August election.
According to one of those at large CMs, Delishia Porterfield, this year’s election comes just four years after reaching gender parity.
“In 2019 we had gender parity for the first time in Metro’s history,” she said on Twitter/X. “Once CM Steve Glover resigned, we had 20 women and 19 men – the first time we had a majority of women on council.”
While the de facto majority of women has ruled since Glover’s resignation, this year’s election marks the first time in Metro’s history there was an elected majority of women, with 22 of the 40 seats won by women.
The women leading the Metro Council this year are:
- Vice Mayor Angie Henderson
- At Large Council Members Zulfat Suara, Delishia Porterfield, Quin Evans-Segall, Burkley Allen and Olivia Hill
- District 1 CM Joy Kimbrough
- District 2 CM Kyonzte Toombs
- District 3 CM Jennifer Gamble
- District 7 CM Emily Benedict
- District 9 CM Tonya Hancock
- District 10 CM Jennifer Webb
- District 12 CM Erin Evans
- District 16 CM Ginny Welsch
- District 17 CM Terry Vo
- District 22 CM Sheri Weiner
- District 24 CM Brenda Gadd
- District 26 CM Courtney Johnston
- District 29 CM Tasha Ellis
- District 30 CM Sandra Sepulveda
- District 32 CM Joy Styles
- District 33 CM Antoinette Lee
- District 34 CM Sandy Ewing
The road to having a majority-women council has been a long one. According to historical information from the Metro Council office, the first woman elected to the council was Frances Doyle in 1963. She served for two terms for District 17: 1963-1966 and 1966-1971. She was succeeded as the only woman on the Metro Council by Lois Jordan for the 1971-1975 term in District 17. Jordan was also the first Black woman elected to the Council, and was the only Black woman to serve on the council until 1983 when Thelma Harper was elected in District 2.
From there, the council saw minimal women’s representation on the council until the late 20th century.
Only one woman served on the Council until 1979, when District 26 Councilwoman Betty Nixon was in her second term and she was joined by Jo Ann North, who was elected to an At Large seat. A third and fourth woman were added in 1983 with Harper in District 2 and Gwen McFarland in District 4.
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For the 1987 term, Metro Council had four women: North, District 2 Councilwoman Thelma Harper, District 29 Councilwoman Pay Frye and District 30 Councilwoman Sherry Jones.
A fifth woman was added in the 1995 term through the District seats. Regina Patton served in District 1, Eileen Beehan in District 6, Norma Hand in District 22, Michelle Arriola in District 26 and Janis Sontany in District 27. Hand was elected in 1999 to replace former District 9 Councilman Jimmy Holt upon his election to General Sessions Judge, according to the Metro office.
The next term saw the female representation more than double, as 11 women were elected. The women on the Council were:
- Carolyn Baldwin Tucker – At Large
- Brenda Gilmore – District 1
- Eileen Beehan – District 6
- Bettye R. Balthrop – District 10
- Amanda McClendon – District 16
- Ginger Hausser – District 18
- Norma Hand – District 22
- Michelle Arriola – District 26
- Janis Sontany – District 27
- Saletta Holloway – District 29
- Lynn Williams – District 34
Female representation took a slight dip in 2003 to only nine women, but then returned to double digits in 2011. However, the 2007-2011 term saw the election of the first woman to the Vice Mayor’s seat in Diane Neighbors. The Vice Mayor presides over the Metro Council but is not a voting member unless there is a tie.
2011 saw 11 women elected to Council, as well as the return of Neighbors as Vice Mayor; then there was another jump in women’s representation in 2015 when 16 women were elected. They were:
- Erica Gilmore – At Large
- Sharon Hurt – At Large
- Brenda Haywood – District 3
- Nancy VanReece – District 8
- Holly Huezo – District 13
- Burkley Allen – District 18
- Mary Carolyn Roberts – District 20
- Sheri E. Weiner – District 22
- Mina Johnson – District 23
- Kathleen Murphy – District 24
- Davette Blalock – District 27
- Tanaka Vercher – District 28
- Delishia Porterfield – District 29
- Jacobia Dowell – District 32
- Antoinette Lee – District 33
- Angie Henderson – District 34
The latest iteration of the Metro Council will reconvene next month.