By Rosetta Miller-Perry
Now that the mayoral race is down to two people, it is being accurately framed as a choice between political philosophies. Freddie O’Connell has represented District 19 honorably for eight years. He is part of our community. His office has been in the heart of the Black community for eight years. He voices concern about the impact of gentrification and unregulated business development. He is on record wanting to make certain Nashville’s Black neighborhoods are not left out of the constant push towards rampant 21st century infrastructure and technological expansion.
He wants to see affordable housing and the homeless problem addressed with a degree of compassion and integrity. He’s concerned about crime, but doesn’t think the answer to solving it is allowing police to trample over the rights of citizens, or ignore incidents of brutality and mistreatment.
In contrast, his opponent Rolli, is the choice of the Belle Meade/Green Hills/Brentwood/big money crowd. Rolli proudly presents herself as a “conservative,” which means folks should take a look at what that means in today’s political arena. An objective look shows contemporary conservatism isn’t anything that benefits or cares about the problems affecting Black, Brown, or poor people. Current conservative ideology in Tennessee means sanctioning book banning and limiting or restricting the accurate study of Black history in the schools, taking money from public education to give to white charter schools, many of which were built for the sole reason of avoiding integrated public schools, putting unfair restrictions on the LGBTQ + community, and giving police free reign to continue policies that have been shown to unfairly target people of color in their communities. Rolli wants to ease tensions between the state legislature and the city. That’s another way of saying she’s in favor of repeated attempts by a reactionary state legislature to strip power and authority from Nashville. This legislature has tried to limit the size of the City Council because it’s the most diverse in Nashville’s history since its inception on April 1, 1963. This legislature gerrymandered the new state map in such a way it forced the resignation of our most respected effective national legislator, the Honorable Jim Cooper. Republicans moved to strip the power of the Citizens Oversight Board, forcing it to be reorganized and turned it into just a monitoring body with no enforcement or investigatory power. They’ve also tried to transform the Airport board into their right-wing rubber stamp by taking away the mayor’s authority to appoint the majority of its members (that is still in court as of this writing). These are the people with whom Rolli wants to improve the city’s relationship with, which means she really wants to let the state legislature run the city. This is what we get with Rolli.
Nowhere in any of her proposals or plans is there any mention about such issues as improved economic access for minority citizens, equal justice in the courts, or other major social justice issues. But the Republican lady likes to dismiss these as “national issues,” but they are also profoundly local. Rolli only attracted three percent of the vote in North Nashville last time for a reason. Every politician running for office in Nashville meets with the Black press but not Rolli. Her track record and political views on many subjects are well known by the Black press. Now she’s smart enough not to be as open about some of them as her amigo, Senator Marsha Blackburn, but make no mistake, they both embrace the same set of hardcore reactionary white racist beliefs that comprise 21st century conservatives throughout America. Rolli just does it with more class.
She’s also a diehard Trump supporter, though again that’s being kept low key. But Nashvillians, Rolli the politician is the same as the people who expelled Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the legislature and expressed no support for the Tennessee 3 facing 3 criminal indictments in 3 jurisdictions. Did Rolli give opinions or did Rolli keep quiet on critical issues facing people of color, the poor, homeless and marginalized communities to keep the Tennessee Three from being lynched in 2023? Is Rolli proud to stand next to people with open hatred and bigotry towards a host of others from Hispanics and immigrants to trans and LGBTQ +? Is this someone you want as the next mayor of Nashville? Finally, Rolli is the only mayoral candidate entertaining the idea of replacing the school board.
This is the first time in our 33 years on Jefferson Street that a candidate for mayor has not asked to talk about issues affecting the Black community with the Black Press. To Rolli, Black and Brown citizens don’t exist, to Rolli, the Black press doesn’t exist. Let me make this issue, real clear – I am not anti-Republican, my mother was a Republican, some of my best Black and white friends today are Republicans, but this die-hard Democrat will continue to inform the community about those who wish they could place us back into slavery, deny Black males positions in Metro government and the state of Tennessee.
If you value your future and the future of Nashvillians in Nashville – The Tennessee Tribune urges its readers to support Freddie O’Connell for Nashville’s next mayor.