Nashville, Tenn. (TN Tribune)–As of February, Democratic candidates for district attorney, sheriff and court clerk have qualified to run in the Davidson County primary which will be held in May. If you’ve been keeping up you know the current DA Glenn Funk is running for reelection and that he is facing two relative newcomers, Sara Beth Myers, current Assistant U.S. Attorney and Danielle Nellis, the former assistant DA.

Of these, the one with the greatest experience would be Funk. Elected as Davidson County’s
36th District Attorney in August of 2014, Funk has held positions as a special prosecutor,
an assistant district attorney, a public defender, and an attorney in private practice. It’s his
unique experience of having seen and worked both sides of the courtroom that have made
him invaluable in representing Nashville as the DA. Because even as Funk has
acknowledged, his “time as a public defender made [him] a better assistant district
attorney” allowing him to “understand the real needs and the collateral damage” of the
entire cycle of arrests, charges and convictions on victims, defendants and their
families. Without that experience, logic says it would be hard to have the ability to view
things from all sides.

Sara Beth Myers is a criminal rights attorney. As a career prosecutor it’s hard to imagine
what real improvements, if any, she could bring to the DA’s office. Myers considers herself a
“champion for victim’s rights” and has a knack for pulling on even the progressives. Though
I’m not sure how most of them are weighing things if they are considering support, as her
reputation is that of being one of the most punitive prosecutors in Nashville. Again, the
power of logic weighing in makes me believe progressives would be less enthused about
her taking on the role of DA.

Danielle Nellis, the former Assistant DA is a multi-generational Nashvillian has said she
desires to get the community more involved in the criminal justice process. She would like
to see a reentry office in Nashville and expanding restorative justice processes to adult
courts. Nellis has worked as a criminal defense attorney, a law clerk and adjunct law
professor. If Nellis has an advantage over Myers I believe it would be that she can relate
more readily to Nashvillians, to common people, as Funk has also done.

Though some may not care for Funk’s commonsense approach, attorneys on both the
defense and prosecution side believe he has been doing a good job – that he took this DA’s
office out of the stone ages virtually overnight. Instead of incarcerating offenders for minor
offenses or infractions Funk has been putting away the more violent criminals preserves
the safety of our city, and our tax dollars to boot. By reducing the rate of incarceration for
petty crimes, Metro Nashville taxpayers are saving over $45 million a year in incarceration

In years past, it was commonplace for DAs to offer people significant jail sentences on
driver’s license cases, low level weed cases and garden variety crimes of poverty. DA Funk
has made very significant progress in moving the office away from those practices or
abolishing them outright. He has demonstrated a real commitment to developing and
embracing meaningful alternatives to incarceration. He has shown a lot of sensitivity to
people with mental health issues and substance use disorders. So, it’s not hard to fathom
that this race may be kind of a no brainer for most who practice law in our courts. Funk has
many successes that Nashvillians have come to count on. He is already our proven entity.
One thing DA Funk and his challengers have in common is the desire for diversity in the
DA’s office. Historically, Tennessee’s District Attorney offices have been notoriously lacking
in diversity. But since Funk took office in 2014 there has been an 800 percent increase in
diversity among Assistant Das. Further, 10 percent of his staff members are fluent in
DA Funk has long been proving himself a person of action when it comes to creating
change. His numerous partnerships to support victims of human trafficking, assist veterans,
reduce recidivism for juveniles and help individuals with mental health issues are the proof
in the pudding. His belief that incarceration should primarily be reserved for violent
offenders,” has led to a decrease of locally incarcerated inmates from 3,151 per day (2013)
to 1,535 per day (2021). 
After detailing Funk’s experience and successes I believe he is still the best person for the
job of DA. Because being in the trenches is far different than peering down into the
trenches thinking you can do better. For me, Funk is the proven entity and I don’t like the
idea of wondering whether someone else might be able to measure up.