Fighting it out in a runoff election, Alice Rolli and Freddie O’Connell are both looking to become the next mayor of Nashville.
Nashvillians will cast their votes on Sept. 15 for mayor and for select council positions.
Why should this matter to Belmont students, most of whom aren’t registered to vote in the city?
The results of this mayoral race will help decide the future of Nashville.
“If your issue is gun rights, or school choice, or abortion rights, or LGBTQ rights, find out what is happening at the local level, because that’s going to impact you far more than any speech or any moment that is delivered by Trump or Biden,” said Vaughn May, chair of Belmont’s political science department.
Though a nonpartisan race, Rolli and O’Connell have carved out their stances within their respective parties.
O’Connell, a former Metro Council Member representing District 19, leans toward more liberal policy.
Rolli, previously working as a former aide to Gov. Bill Haslam and campaign manager for former Sen. Lamar Alexander, leans more conservatively.
They’ve debated stances on various issues throughout the race, with three debates held in Belmont’s Fisher Center.
Some Belmont students have been involved in or attentive to the election.
Paloma Buck, a sophomore political science major, has been working on the O’Connell campaign since April.
“I think he really cares about making education really good for the people, for the generations that are going to be based here in Nashville,” she said.
Buck said it was O’Connell’s dedication to improving the city of Nashville that caught her attention.
“Our main message is ‘I want you to stay.’ But what does that really mean?” Buck said. “It means making affordable housing more accessible, making transit more accessible by increasing the hours of day that bus routes operate at, and the amount of bus routes that we have in our city. So, definitely taking small steps to build our way up into a more usable and livable city.”
Belmont sophomore Sadaf Folad said she is backing Rolli, in part because of her stance on early education.
One of Rolli’s campaign goals has been to ensure that Metro students get a good education regardless of where they live or what their income is.
“It’s about having the playing field equalized. If you can have every first grader be able to read, you’re getting the issue from the root right there,” said Folad.
Folad, an international politics major from Franklin, Tennessee, also likes Rolli’s hometown roots and her willingness to cross party lines.
“One thing she talked about is, even though you’re conservative, or you’re liberal, you’re still a Tennessean at the end of the day, which is something I really like. Because as much as I consider myself to be liberal, I do agree with Alice Rolli on a lot of things,” said Folad, who is now registered to vote in Nashville.
May encourages Belmont students to not count themselves out of the political scene, even if they feel it has nothing to do with them.
“Let’s say you’re an education major, and you don’t have any interest in politics. Well, they’re still going to be passing legislation that impacts teachers in meaningful ways,” he said.
“If you’re planning to stay in Tennessee, why not get a sense of who your local representatives are and what they’re doing?”
For those registered to vote in Nashville, Election Day is Sept. 14. Students can find their designated polling location here.
- This article was written by Katie Beth Cannon