By Peter White
NASHVILLE, TN – Jonathan Hall defeated Judy Cummings in the special District 1 runoff election Thursday. Cummings received 774 votes to Hall’s 1,067 votes. Voters picked Hall by 58 percent to 42 percent for Cummings.
“This is really grassroots coming back to Nashville. This was the entire community coming together. This wasn’t’ just one person,” Hall told the Tribune. Surrounded by supporters and jubilant volunteers at Ri’chard’s Cafe on Whites Creek Pike Thursday night, Hall was celebrating his victory.
The runoff was held because no single candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in the May 24 election for the District 1 council seat. Nick Leonardo who was picked to fill a vacancy in Division III General Sessions Court in January 2018 vacated that seat. Hall and Mayor David Briley are both filling unfinished terms and will face another election next year when those terms expire.
“We are excited about what is ahead,” Hall said. “We have our first 100 days already planned out.”
Hall campaigned on “parity” for District 1. By that he means investment and he said Metro’s legal department has already seen a proposal to increase funding for the Bordeaux Development District which lags far behind other districts.
“For the first time the time biggest district in the city is working together towards the same things,” he said.
Hall has been a booster of development in Bordeaux and was active in securing the 40-unit MDHA housing project that broke ground on Wednesday. He was also active in defeating the MDHA project that was initially proposed for the site two years ago.
“They had worked on that for a few years and there was a proposed 100% low income development which the community was absolutely opposed to. It came down to the final hour when MDHA was about to lose that money––and in 90 days we took it from a $3 million project to an $11 million project—market rate which is going to do what we set out to do from the very beginning—raise the median income, raise property values so we can next work on infrastructure and schools,” he said.
Five candidates ran for the District 1 seat in May. Hall was first with 1091 votes and Cummings finished second with 886 votes, Hall predicted he would widen the 7 percent lead he held over Cummings and he beat Cummings by double digits in Thursday’s runoff.
Hall ran strong in Joelton. Cummings did well in Bordeaux precincts. But less than 2 percent of registered voters in District 1 cast ballots in Thursday’s election. According to the Davidson County Election Commission there are 10,328 registered voters in District 1 but less than 2,000 cast ballots. Voter turnout is usually low in special elections. In 2014 Tennessee had the lowest voter turnout of all 50 states, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Tennessee improved its standing in 2016, moving up to 47th out of 50 states.
“We have started a change in District 1,” said former Councilman Nick Leonardo. “I do believe that Jonathan deserves an opportunity after all the things he s’ done for our district to see what he can accomplish in this next year.”