Turnout low, but money pours into council's runoff election

Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 9:39pm

Few Nashvillians are voting, but that hasn’t stopped Metro Council runoff candidates from raising thousands of dollars to pay for campaign essentials like yard signs, mailers and personnel.

In a runoff election that has garnered only 1,142 voters spread among five races, candidates are doing their part on the financial end, collectively raising more than $92,000 between July 26 and Sept. 5, with plenty in their pockets left to spend. Candidates were required to disclose their contributions and spending figures for the final stretch no later than Thursday.

Early voting runs through Sept. 10. Election Day is Sept. 15. Runoffs feature the two leading candidates from the Aug. 4 general election in races that didn’t produce a winner with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Leading the pack in fundraising — taking in nearly seven times more dollars than his opponent — is former mayor’s office aide Brady Banks, who raised $23,557 during the six-week period, putting him with $29,277 on hand for his District 4 race. He spent $14,188 between July 26 and Sept. 5.

Banks’ donor list includes At-large Councilwoman Megan Barry and outgoing Councilman Jamie Hollin, among others.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of financial support I have received,” Banks said in a statement.

Banks’ opponent, Dave Patterson, who had been running on a save-the-fairgrounds mantra prior to August’s general election, reported raising $3,525 and having $2,050 on hand.

In East Nashville’s highly competitive District 6 race, candidates Dave Rich and Peter Westerholm both showed impressive fundraising efforts, with Rich slightly besting his opponent.

Rich, who opted to mail his disclosure to the Davidson County Election Commission, raised $11,518 since July 26, and has $9,591 on hand, according to Hollin, who is serving as Rich’s campaign advisor.

Westerholm has $9,728 on hand after raising $10,460.

If fundraising is an indicator of election success, then Scott Davis is in a strong position against District 5 foe Pam Murray, the former councilwoman ousted from her seat two years ago via public recall.

Davis reported raising $12,234, bringing his cash-on-hand total to $4,109.

Murray, facing heightened scrutiny after her nephew allegedly physically assaulted a man in a yard-sign altercation, reported having $0 on hand after raising a measly $200 since July 26. Murray listed no contributors. By law, candidates must disclose only contributions of more than $100.

Murray’s report also lacks the signature of her campaign treasurer.

In the Antioch-area District 33 race, challenger Page Turner reported raising $6,950, positioning her with $4,784 on hand. Turner — backed by Mayor Karl Dean — has a donor lists that includes Barry, outgoing Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde and “Friends of Carol Soloman.”

Turner’s opponent, Robert Duvall — the lone sitting council member in a runoff — did not submit his disclosure to the election commission, presumably opting to mail his report. Duvall could not be reached for comment.

Rounding out the runoffs, District 13 candidate Josh Stites raised $14,250 since July 26, and reported having $7,791 on hand.

His opponent, former NAACP Nashville chapter president Marilyn Robinson, raised $10,027 and has $5,988 on hand.  

16 Comments on this post:

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 8:11

East Nashville (District 6) voters: One of the candidates, Pete Westerholm, is a full time employee of republican Governor Haslam's administration. Haslam, backed by the republican legislature, can fire him at anytime and for any reason. So how can Westerholm possibly be an independent voice for east Nashville? Of course, Westerholm has refused to address this issue. East Nashville can continue to influence and encourage progressive growth in our city but we're going to have to elect Dave Rich first. Please vote!

By: Joe Sixpack on 9/9/11 at 8:40

NN: What does being a State employee have to do with being a Metro councilman? Nothing in Peter Westerholm's case. Everything you just said makes no sense. Maybe Westerholm "hasn't addressed this issue" because it ISN'T one.

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 8:48

"Joe Sixpack," Perhaps you don't live in the district or remember that the republican state legislature recently passed a law, signed by republican gov. Haslam, specifically designed to over ride a new metro ordinance that was supported overwhelming by district 6 residents. You tell me, how does Pete fight for his district and Nashville while working for the people who are trying to stop us?? It's called a conflict of interest. You tell us, in this situation, how does Pete remain loyal to his employer (the republican gov) and loyal to District 6?? Can't wait to read your response....

By: sidneyames on 9/9/11 at 10:19

Being bought and paid for by Dean makes any candidate he endorses a puppet. We don't want you Ms. Turner. We want a real council person who can stand up for what WE, the people believe in.

By: diddy on 9/9/11 at 10:28

Dear NN,
I'm not sure if you were at the D6 Forum, last week. But, both candidates overwhelmingly supported the Metro Nashville side of things. I'm looking for the video, but it hasn't been posted yet.

FWIW, Pete was actually hired under the Bredesen administration.

As far as determining if one candidate is a Republican or not, all we can do is look at the facts:
- DR voted in the TN Republican Primary, last year. Best case scenario is that it was for Haslam...
- DR has pledged to not raise property taxes.
- DR has called out Pete (and all other State employees) as "just showing up for his State job". I feel like I'm repeating myself here...

I'm not saying DR is a Republican. But, it's hard to explain his actions. "Can't wait for your response..."

By: NeverLetAGoodStory on 9/9/11 at 10:28

At the sake of trying to bring sanity to a 'comments section'... NashNow lets talk about that 'new metro ordinance.' Would that be the same ordinance that Peter Westerholm as policy chair for TEP helped lead the charge? All of this while functioning as a public servant for the state? That ordinance? I can see how you might be worried where his priorities are. That you think each state employee is required to fall in lockstep with the governor's views to perform their job speaks more to your level of critical thinking (or lackthereof). Me personally? I'm worried that someone with no history of any public service to the community at all (unless you count buying a house as public service lol) could be elected. You worry about 'charlies in the trees' the rest of us will worry about making sure we choose our leaders with actual experience and community involvement. And in case anyone was wondering, yes I did vote for Mr Westerholm, and encourage you to do the same.

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 11:06

Glad for the discussion! However, this isn't about Pete being a bureaucrat or whether or not he is a republican. This is about the very real conflict of interest that arises when a person accepts a pay check from one elected official (in this case the republican governor) while at the same time holding an elected office of his own (in this case the district 6 council representative).

Naturally, what's best for the governor may not be (and won't be) best for the residents of east Nashville. How does Pete serve both well? Like Pete, you talk around the issue but do not address it. Perhaps you can encourage him to publish a letter to the editor to clarify how he will deal with the conflict of interest?

By: sixer45 on 9/9/11 at 11:23

NashNow, give it up already. Your laser-focus on this "conflict of interest" non-issue you have dreamed up is clearly just your way to deflect attention from Rich's marked lack of experience and community involvement. As one commenter has already noted, Westerholm was policy chair for the TEP when the ordinance was promulgated. Did he get fired? No. Did he get publicly reprimanded (as is possible)? No. If you knew anything about how the budget office works, you would know that it is non-partisan, and workers rarely, if ever, get fired for being at odds with the current administration. Westerholm has, of course, worked under both Republican and Democrat governors. Now, why don't you address Rich's lack of community involvement? I saw the debate--Rich did not give four examples of his community involvement. At best, he gave 2. What say you, NashNow?

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 11:38

Once again, you are not addressing the conflict of interest that would be created if Pete were to become an OFFICE HOLDER elected to represent the interests of east Nashville. It would be helpful to voters if Pete would address this in writing. Why not?

By: WeekendLawnCareGuy on 9/9/11 at 11:39

NashNow is a thoroughly discredited voice in these comment sections by now. He has revealed himself over these many posts in many articles as clearly a paid political hack for the Dave Rich campaign (which has about 20 financial contributors that are all rich lawyers). He may be Jamie Hollin or Dave Rich himself for all I know.

Clearly he is not just giving his opinion as a member of the district 6 community but as someone who is trying to tarnish Peter Westerholm. I find that sad that he would do that to a member of our community. NashNow should be ashamed for what he is doing to a kind and active member of the East Nashville community in an attempt to get a couple more votes for his candidate out readers of these comments. To readers, his views should be totally ignored, in my humble opinion.

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 11:47

Dear WeekendLawnCareGuy,

Your humility is touching...lol. And like the Pete's other hacks, you don't dare address the issue....in my humble opinion.

By: WeekendLawnCareGuy on 9/9/11 at 11:51

Public servants, including those receiving checks from federal/state/metro governments, often have callings to serve the public. Mr. Westerholm may feel a desire to serve his local community, as well as a desire to serve and work on behalf of his state. As many people understand, some people like the opportunity to serve for the benefit of others. I, for one, simply refuse to see any character flaw in that calling.

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 11:54

lol...this just gets better and better!!

By: sixer45 on 9/9/11 at 12:01

NashNow, I will spell it out even clearer, since you don't seem to understand. To address the conflict of interest you seem fixated on, it does not appear to exist because Westerholm was policy chair of TEP which helped write the anti-discrimination ordinance--clearly a position that the current politicos in power in State government would not like. What this shows to me is that Westerholm would be undeterred by the political stances of the current administration to do what is best for District 6 and best for Nashville. What more do you need to address the issue you made up? Now, please address the issue of Rich's non-involvement (especially as compared to Westerholm's) in the community.

By: NashNow on 9/9/11 at 12:08

Sixer45,

Hmmm....I let this go earlier but feel a need to ask now, are you working in the state budget office now? You said, "If you knew anything about how the budget office works, you would know that it is non-partisan, and workers rarely, if ever, get fired for being at odds with the current administration." Are you on state time? Also, who at the state budget office should I call to clarify this? I also want to find out if OFFICE HOLDERS have ever worked in the state budget office.

By: sixer45 on 9/9/11 at 1:56

Since you asked, no, I am not a public employee. And you never addressed my question.