Mayor O’Connell or Rolli? Race for Nashville’s next chief executive

Davidson County residents voted between Councilman Freddie O’Connell and executive Alice Rolli for Nashville’s next mayor.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - In January, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced he would not seek re-election. That meant candidates from across Nashville put their names into the hat to fill the seat Cooper leaves behind.

Nashville Councilman Freddie O’Connell and executive Alice Rolli were the top two vote-getters in August’s primary, beating out nine other candidates for the top spots. O’Connell received 27% of the votes and Rolli was close behind, earning 20% of the votes cast, prompting a run-off election. After Thursday’s election, there was a clear winner.

O’Connell, considered the frontrunner by many during the campaign, earned 64% of the votes to be elected Nashville’s next mayor, earning 61,840 votes compared to Rolli’s 34,384.

O’Connell’s biggest competition in his campaign for mayor was by far Rolli, a Nashville native who graduated from Hume-Fogg High School. Her executive experience includes leading companies through periods of rapid growth. She helped Music Row dynamo QuaverEd triple in size. As an owner-manager of WorldStrides, the country’s largest student travel organization, she led expansion efforts to more than 50 countries. In government, she has served at both state and federal levels. She has served as Assistant Commissioner of Strategy for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and as a special assistant and campaign manager for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander.

O’Connell has served District 19 since 2015, representing the downtown area. He and his family have lived in the Salemtown area since 2007. He has served as a member of the Charter Revision Committee, the Planning, Zoning and Historical Committee, chair of the Public Works Committee and chair of the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Committee. He has also served as a member on various special committees that serve residents including the Nashville Downtown Partnership Board of Directors, the Central Business Improvement District Board of Directors, the Gulch Business Improvement District Board of Directors, the District Energy System Advisory Board, and the South Central Neighborhood Development Corporation Board of Directors. He has also previously served as board chair of Nashville MTA (now WeGo Transit) and board president of Walk/Bike Nashville.

As mayor, O’Connell will inherit a plethora of responsibilities. Nashville’s mayor is responsible for the enforcement of all laws and ordinances within Davidson County and has the power to veto any law or ordinance passed by the Metro Council, according to the city’s website. The Metro Council can override a mayor’s veto with a 2/3 majority vote in favor of that law or ordinance.

The mayor is also responsible for supervising all departments created by the Metro Nashville Charter or by Metro Council ordinances and is responsible for the supervision of the following departments:

  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Youth and Education
  • Affordable Housing
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Economic and Community Development
  • Neighborhoods and Community Engagement
  • New Americans
  • Performance Management
  • Communications

O’Connell will take over mayoral duties after the election is certified. It’s unclear at this time when that will happen.