The field for Nashville’s at-large council seats is huge. Here’s how the race breaks down.
There are 21 candidates running for five seats.
Early voting begins July 14 and runs through July 29. Election day is Aug. 3.
Below is information about each candidate to help voters decide at the polls.
The race for five Metro Nashville Council at-large seats has a saturated pool of competitors. Here’s how to sort through the names on the ballot and figure out who you’ll pick when you’re at the polls. Aug. 3 is election day, but early voting begins July 14 and goes through July 29.
What the office is and how the race works
At-large council members serve the county as a whole. They have the ability to introduce legislation just as district council members do, but do not share district council members’ responsibility for carrying zoning bills within their respective districts. At-large members can introduce zoning bills in any district, and can fill in for district council members as needed if conflicts or absences arise.
There are 21 contenders going for five seats, and voters can select five at-large candidates on the ballot. At-large candidates must receive at least one-fifth of the total number of votes cast for the office to be elected to an at-large seat.
If less than five candidates meet that threshold (which is likely), a runoff election will be held Sept. 14 for any remaining unfilled seats. Runoff ballots must include twice the number of candidates as the number of vacant seats. The candidates who received the most votes but did not meet the threshold will be included. Lower-scoring candidates will be eliminated.
Term-limited district councilmember Jeff Syracuse holds the highest reserve of cash on hand for the final stretch of the race with $199,524. He’s followed by Russ Pulley ($123,857), Burkley Allen ($106,901) and Marcia Masulla ($92,883).
Pulley, also a term-limited district council member, tallied the most contributions over the last three months, totaling $130,397. He’s followed by Masulla ($107,100), Zulfat Suara ($80,677), Allen ($80,235) and Delishia Porterfield ($70,876).
As of July 12, second-quarter campaign finance disclosures were not available for Ronnie Greer Sr. or Gilbert Ramirez.
Here’s a list of all 21 at-large candidates and what they’re running on.
These two candidates are currently at-large councilmembers and are running for another four-year term.
Burkley Allen has been an at-large councilmember since 2019, and prior to that, she served District 18 from 2011 to 2019.
“I love public service. I’ve relished the opportunity to work to make Nashville better, and I want to continue that effort,” she told The Tennessean.
She was chair of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee during the 2022 budget season and has served as ad hoc chair of the Affordable Housing Committee. On her campaign website, Allen says she has worked during her term to remain informed about zoning, infrastructure, transportation and education. She has sponsored legislation concerning storm water regulations in neighborhoods, affordable housing and sidewalk access in construction zones.
Notable donors: Ryman Hospitality Properties PAC ($500), Tennessee Laborers’ PAC ($500), John Ingram ($1,000), TN NAIOP PAC ($500), Anthony Davis ($250), HG Hill Realty PAC ($1250), 1st & Tenn PAC ($750), Adolpho Birch ($500), Jigsaw ($1,000), James Weaver ($1,000), A Better Nashville PAC ($9,400), Waller Lansden PAC ($1,000)
Zulfat Suara has also served as an at-large councilmember since 2019. She had a career in accounting before pursuing elected office. She is currently the chair of the American Muslim Advisory Council and treasurer of the National Women’s Political Caucus, among other volunteer positions. Her priorities include full funding for education, support for community-based budgeting programs, increasing affordable housing and advocating for livable wages for Nashville residents. Responding to questions from The Tennessean, she discussed her motivation to run for reelection.
“Four years ago, I ran because I wanted a Nashville that works for all. Where there is adequate funding of our schools regardless of ZIP code, where our budget reflects the issues important to our residents and where Nashvillians that helped build this city can afford to continue to live here,” Suara said. “This term, I am running for the same reasons I ran four years ago, a Nashville for all.”
Notable donors: A Better Nashville PAC ($9,400), developer Tony Giarratana ($500), HG Hill Realty PAC ($1,000), TN NAIOP PAC ($500), JIGSAW PAC (associated with lobbying firm Jigsaw, which has represented Oracle and the Titans in deals) hosted a fundraiser worth $2,500, roughly $1,900 in personal loans
The district council members
These three have served as district councilmembers and are looking to make the jump to at-large. Two are term limited — council members can serve for a maximum of two four-year terms.
Delishia Porterfield is not term-limited — she’s represented District 29 since 2019, but she’s looking to make the jump to at-large this election cycle. While serving Southeast Nashville, she opposed the deal to build a new $2.1 billion Tennessee Titans stadium, advocating for more advantageous terms for Nashville residents. She works as director of leadership and advocacy for union-backed nonprofit Stand Up Nashville and formerly worked as a special education teacher in Metro Nashville and Williamson County public schools.
“The issues that I am most passionate about and the fights that I am called to fight to transcend district boundaries and impact all Nashvillians,” Porterfield told The Tennessean. “I am running for Metro Council at-large because Nashville needs a battle-tested legislator with a strong moral compass that is a champion for working people.”
Notable donors: Several contributions from fellow council members, Laborers’ International Union of North America ($2,000), Nashville General Hospital CEO Joseph Webb ($1,000), lobbyist James Weaver ($1,500), attorney Charles Robert Bone ($500), Women in Numbers PAC ($500), Waller Lansden PAC ($1,000), developer Dave Martin ($1,000), Friends of Bo Mitchell ($250), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($200)
Russ Pulley has represented District 25 since 2015. Before he was on the council, he spent 40 years in public service as a firefighter and paramedic, patrol officer, state trooper, FBI special agent and as an employee of the U.S. Department of Labor. While representing District 25, Pulley worked to secure a transit center in Hillsboro and improve traffic conditions. He’s served on Metro Council committees concerning budget, public safety, transportation, health and social services, rules, education and codes.
“I have always and will continue to focus on keeping our communities safe as a priority,” Pulley said to The Tennessean.
Notable donors: A Better Nashville PAC ($9,400), Developer Tony Giarratana ($1,500), lobbyist James Weaver ($1,500), HG Hill Realty PAC ($3,500), John Ingram ($1,000), Colin Reed ($1,000), JIGSAW PAC ($1,000), TN NAIOP PAC ($500), state Rep. Bob Freeman ($1,800), Tennessee Laborers’ PAC ($1,000), 1st & Tenn PAC ($750), attorney Charles Bone ($1,000), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($200)
Jeff Syracuse serves District 15 and is term limited. He has 25 years of experience in the music industry and has spearheaded a study of independent Nashville music venues and supported the creation of the Nashville Music, Film and Entertainment Commission. Other priorities include affordable housing, accessible transit and improving the function of Metro Council as a legislative body.
“We need to invest in quality of life for residents and ensure our budget priorities are aligned with resident needs,” he said to The Tennessean.
Notable donors: A Better Nashville PAC ($9,400), HG Hill Realty PAC ($3,500), JIGSAW PAC ($1,000), TN NAIOP PAC ($500), lobbyist James Weaver ($1,500), William Freeman of the Freeman Webb Company ($1,050), Broadway Honky Tonk Venture LLC ($1,800), Skull’s Rainbow Room ($1,800), House of Cards ($1,800), Icon Entertainment Group ($1,800), $1,800 each from The Johnny Cash Museum and The Patsy Cline Museum, Titans Chief External and League Affairs Officer Adolpho Birch ($500), Hal Cato ($450), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($100)
These candidates have a foot in the door of Davidson County politics and public service, but are not currently councilmembers.
Quin Evans Segall
Nashville attorney Quin Evans Segall currently serves as vice chair of the Metro Nashville Davidson County Industrial Development Board. A Nashville native, she received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama. Evans Segall is the co-founder of real estate escrow and title agency City House Title and provides real estate counsel at Rebekah Fisher and Associates. Her focuses include boosting transportation, updating housing code, increasing grants for small-, minority- and women-owned businesses, expanding child care access and shaping a process for private investment in parks.
“I am running for this office so that I can use my expertise to help my hometown be the creative, efficient and effective government that I believe it can be,” she said to The Tennessean.
Notable donors: Freeman Webb Company ($1,500), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($350), Bob Mendes ($250), Bob Freeman ($1,500), William Freeman ($200), Women in Numbers ($500), Katie Lentile ($300), Thomas F. O’Connell ($500), contributions from current council members and district race candidates
Ronnie Greer Sr.
Ronnie Greer Sr. represented District 17 from 1999 to 2007 and ran for an at-large seat in 2015. He said he’s entering the race because he wants “to be involved in the discussion” about a smaller Metro Council and preserving minority representation amid pressure from state legislators. A native Nashvillian, Greer said at-large council members should develop relationships with leadership in surrounding counties for potential regional projects, such as transit. He would also like to work with the vice mayor to “reestablish decorum” in the council chambers.
Arnold Hayes, former chair of the Metro Community Oversight Board, said his time on the board taught him about the city’s budget process and spending priorities. He said he was “very disappointed” in recent state legislation dismantling the oversight board, and the next council and mayor must work to support that kind of accountability and trust-building work. A retired engineer, Hayes holds degrees in engineering, computer science and theological studies. His priorities include “fighting for the underserved,” pushing for “caring prosperity” that seeks to improve the lives of those living on the margins, and improving safety through advocating for gun regulation reform.
Notable donors: $5,000 personal loan and roughly $500 personal contribution, Jacqueline Sims of the People’s Alliance on Transit, Housing and Employment ($103.66)
Marcia Masulla is a nonprofit leader and communications strategist and previously served as director of outreach and scheduling under Mayor John Cooper. Prior to launching her own strategy and communications agency Roar Nashville in 2017, she worked in brand development for companies including Gannett, which owns The Tennessean. Masulla established funds supporting animal welfare and fashion and has served on several arts-focused boards as well as boards representing the YWCA, Inclusion Tennessee, and the Community Benefits Agreement Board between Nashville Soccer Club and Stand Up Nashville. She’s also worked in fundraising and outreach for organizations supporting hospitality workers.
“I am running for Metro Council at-large as a natural progression of a life of service and to continue giving back to the city I call home,” Masulla said to The Tennessean.
Notable donors: Nashville Mayor John Cooper and wife Laura Fitzgerald Cooper ($3,600 combined), The Johnny Cash Museum ($1,800), Icon Entertainment Group ($1,800), Broadway Honky Tonk Venture LLC ($1,800), Hal Cato ($500), Council member Joy Styles ($500), attorney Charles Bone ($500), optometrist Tommy Ducklo ($1,800), JRC Holdings ($1,800), Greater Nashville Hospitality Association PAC ($300)
The names you may know
These candidates are involved in the Davidson County community outside of the political sphere.
Chris Crofton is a writer, actor, musician and comedian whose columns frequently appear in the Nashville Scene. Known as “The Advice King,” he recently published the “The Advice King Anthology,” a collection of his Scene columns. Crofton announced his at-large candidacy in a tweet: “This is not a publicity stunt. I’m excited to try to help.” In another tweet, he referred to the $2.1 billion Titans stadium deal as a forced citizen-funded subsidy for the NFL, lamenting Nashville’s poverty rate, “abysmal infrastructure” and lack of affordable housing.
“I want to help create a Nashville that is affordable for people from all walks of life — not just the wealthiest,” he said to The Tennessean.
Notable donors: 5 Spot ($793), Tunehatch ($500)
Olivia Hill retired from a 26-year career at the Vanderbilt University power plant in 2021. She has 36 years of experience in the utility industry, including 10 years in the U.S. Navy. Hill is a former board member of the Tennessee Pride Chamber and a transgender advocate. Her priorities include better transit, improved utilities and assistance for homeless Nashvillians.
“We have seen unprecedented growth in the last decade, but too many of our residents’ needs have been forgotten in the process,” she said to The Tennessean. “It is past time to focus on our community and our neighborhoods.”
Notable donors: Women in Numbers ($500), Council member Russ Bradford ($100), former Council member Mina Johnson ($100), Judge Lynda Jones ($50), actor Milton Howery ($1,000)
Yolanda Hockett has 29 years of experience in juvenile corrections, during which she advocated for educational services for incarcerated students.
“I am a lifelong public servant, called to do this work,” she told The Tennessean about why she’s running.
Her priorities include investing in youth through education and safe recreation spaces, shaping policy to preserve housing and regulate rent, and supporting small businesses and workforce development. Hockett has helped raise more than $85,000 for four priority schools through the Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition. She previously ran for Metro Council District 2 in 2019.
Notable donors: Roughly $2,950 in personal loans, Friends of Jennifer Gamble ($250), Council member Kyonzté Toombs ($250)
Howard Jones holds experience in the juvenile court system and in several administrative roles across several Metro Nashville public schools. He identifies Nashville’s biggest issues as “violent crime, high property taxes and under-resourced schools.” Jones, a native Nashvillian and pastor, also runs the Kingdom Cafe & Grill on Jefferson Street. Jones isn’t new to campaigning for elected office — he ran for Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk in 2022, Metro Council member at-large in 2019, and for the District 19 state Senate seat in 2018.
Jones’ campaign coffers include a $1,500 personal contribution.
Filipino American Association of Tennessee President and former Metro Nashville Police officer Gilbert Ramirez said his priorities include investing in literacy, increasing vocational programs in high schools, reducing youth crime and supporting affordable housing. Ramirez served as MNPD’s El Protector liaison to the Hispanic community for 11 years. He was investigated in 2019 over allegations he inappropriately promoted a food and game business managed by his domestic partner. Ramirez denies any wrongdoing and said he retired from police work in good standing. He currently works in private security.
“I have been a member of this community for 16 years,” he told The Tennessean. “Being your Council Member at-large, I will be a great listener to your issues and find ways to resolve them.”
Jonathan Williamson is a political strategist and third-generation Nashvillian and has served on the Davidson County Democratic Party Executive Committee, Nashville’s NAACP branch, the Urban League and the Nashville African Street Festival. Williamson holds a mass communication degree from Middle Tennessee State University with minors in African American studies and sociology. His priorities include strengthened public health policy, protections for Nashville musicians, increased youth engagement and addressing Nashville’s housing crisis.
Williamson has received scrutiny over a series of tweets from October 2022 regarding Jewish people, banks and social and traditional media. He told the Nashville Scene in June that “a lot of people laughed all that stuff off” but the media “ran with it.” Williamson said institutions and systems are the problem, “not anything towards the people, not anything towards a religion.” He also walked back a negative tweet regarding Black non-immigrants’ support for immigrant communities.
“I am a lifelong Nashvillian that is determined to bridge the access gap for our citizens with critical thinking, equitable resources and collaborative partnerships across all of Davidson County,” Williamson said to The Tennessean.
The entirety of Williamson’s second-quarter contributions ($470.44) came from “Friends of Williamson 4 Council.”
These candidates are looking to break into the scene through the at-large position.
Nashville native Tony Chapman said he wants to enter local politics to help the “run-of-the-mill working man and woman.” Chapman, who describes himself as a “born-again Christian,” has worked in shipping and receiving, and customer service, and watched Nashville grow into an urban city over several years. His priorities include infrastructure, affordable housing and addressing homelessness.
“I feel like I am uniquely qualified because I am an average working person and I have talked with many people through my years of work,” Chapman told The Tennessean. “I feel that I have a good sense for what the citizens of this great city need.”
Business owner and U.S. Army Ranger veteran Chris Cheng was born in Nashville and studied business and public policy at Harvard University. Cheng and his wife, Chelsea, own and operate Hot Sauce Nashville. He said his policy process begins with listening.
“I’m hungry to serve and use my education and experiences to make everyday life better for the people of Nashville,” he said to The Tennessean.
His priorities include sustainable infrastructure, local small businesses, parks preservation and investments in Nashville’s libraries and arts.
Stephen Downs, a military veteran, was born and raised in East Nashville. Post-service, he studied at American Baptist College and later received a bachelors degree in sociology from Tennessee State University. He continued his education at several colleges spanning topics including paralegal studies, business administration and call center management, and health care management. Downs said he saw a gridlock in council and was stunned by the council’s rejection of the 2024 Republican National Convention. His priorities include working closely with the legislature to “strike a balance” with the common goal of “taking care of the citizens.” He aims to “put partisan politics aside” to address Metro Nashville’s lack of affordable housing, care for longtime Nashville residents, and bringing county health and mental health markers up to meet peer cities.
“I want to make a difference here in terms of getting meaningful things done for the people and I promise that with your help, and only with your help, we will make that happen,” he told The Tennessean.
Brian Hellwig moved to Nashville from Ohio about four years ago after 20 years in higher education at Kent State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard College and a masters in higher education administration from Kent State, and now works in loss prevention. He is running because “the best way to make change is through the inside,” he said. His priorities include addressing crime (specifically retail theft), improving transportation infrastructure and investing in education.
“Since living and working in Nashville these past four years I have seen and experienced firsthand the inadequacies of our justice system that fails to hold offenders accountable and for crime to take root and grow in the county with little being done to change this,” Hellwig said to The Tennessean.
Indrani Ray has lived in Nashville since 2005 and holds a master’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University. She said the income of Nashville and Davidson County residents hasn’t increased to match the city’s growth. Nashville’s debt service has been rising for over a decade, and the 34% tax rate hike in 2020 was hard on the community. She said she felt compelled to run for office after seeing the Titans stadium deal pass.
“Standard economic theory would suggest that private entities are going to be extremely active if there is a profitable opportunity,” she said to The Tennessean. “When the majority of the stadium is funded by taxpayer money, you know that profit seeking private entities do not consider it to be a lucrative opportunity.”
Her “fiscally focused” campaign will push for support for students who did not graduate or should graduate and boosts for entrepreneurship. Ray previously worked for Vanderbilt Medical Center and TennCare, and now serves as president and CEO of consulting firm Harpeth & Blair LLC.
Deloris Vandivort, a nurse of 35 years from south-central Missouri, has called Nashville home for about 23 years. Vandivort said she is a “political outsider” who will work to “give Nashville back to the residents.” Her concerns include the “use and abuse of TIF districts,” lagging infrastructure, overuse of zoning variances for new development, drug use issues related to homelessness and a lack of affordable housing for young families. She lives in West Nashville and has experience as a member of the St. Charles County School Board in Missouri. Vandivort is the only at-large candidate who did not respond to The Tennessean’s questionnaire about the election.