NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The top three fundraisers for the Metro Council at-large race are all women.

The top two are sitting council members whose contributions included money from businesses involved in city projects. The third-highest fundraiser is a woman brand-new to politics and who, if elected, would be the first Muslim to serve on Metro Council.

The disclosures filed by candidates include contributions received during the first three weeks of July.

Fifteen people are running for Metro Council at-large seats. At-large councilmembers represent all metro residents as opposed to district councilmembers, who serve only a specific area.

Of the at-large candidates, Sheri Weiner leads the pack with donations, having raised $32,065 in the three-week period that ended July 23. Weiner is a sitting at-large council member.

Among Weiner’s donors are PACs representing companies doing business with Metro and owners and employees of those companies.

A Better Tomorrow PAC gave $2,000. Documents on file with Metro show that that political action committee has ties to the San Diego-based company Southwest Value Partners, which is developing the Nashville Yards project. Nashville Yards is the future home of Amazon’s new headquarters.

Amazon donated $1,000 to Weiner on June 26, which was in the prior reporting period.

Mary Cavarra of Ingram Industries, the company building the new Major League Soccer stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville, gave Weiner $500. John Ingram, the chairman of Ingram Industries and an owner of the MLS franchise, donated $1,000 to Wiener in May during the previous reporting period.

The Greater Nashville Hospitality Group gave $1,500; Urban Development Group, a home builders group based in Nashville, gave $1,500 and The Tennessee Realtors PAC gave $1,000.

Zach Liff of DZL Management, the company that owns Cummins Station, donated $500.

“These are people who support my approach,” Weiner said. “I am fair-minded. I look at all sides of an issue.”

Burkley Allen is an incumbent district council member who is seeking an at-large seat.

Allen reported raising $22,360 during the period from July 1-23. She reported spending $73,039 on a direct mail campaign.

Allen reported receiving $1,600 from OliverMcMillan Spectrum, the San Diego company developing the Fifth + Broadway mixed-used development project being built on the footprint of the old convention center. The PAC A Better Tomorrow, which is associated with the Amazon project, gave Allen $2,000. Liff, owner of the Cummins Station development, donated $500. Allen received $750 from the Buffalo PAC and $250 from Rich Riebeling, Metro’s former CEO.

During the previous reporting period, Allen received a $2,000 donation from Amazon, the company that will receive incentives for relocating to Nashville; $2,000 from the Nashville Firefighters PAC; $1,000 from the Maynard Group, a PAC run by former councilmember Jerry Maynard; and $1,000 from Ryan Siebels, owner of Elmington Capital Group, a commercial real estate and development firm.

Allen also received a $500 donation from Katy Varney, who is an executive with Metro’s contracted public relations company MP&F. Cavarra of Ingram Industries donated $200 in June.

Dick Darr of Capital Projects Solutions, donated $250. CPS was involved in a number of Metro building projects, including First Tennessee Park baseball stadium, the new Metro Police headquarters building and various remodeling projects at Nashville’s public libraries.

Allen told News4 she didn't accept the money while the projects were pending before council - the votes had already been taken.

The third-highest campaign fundraiser during the first weeks of July is Zulfat Suara.

Suara, a CPA and a first-time office-seeker, reported raising $19,615.

She immigrated from Nigeria, and is chair of the American Muslim Council. If elected, her campaign web page said she would be the first Muslim person elected to Metro Council.

She reported receiving in-kind contributions from the artist Old Crow Medicine Show and from Oz Arts of Nashville.

Her major contributors include Cal Turner, who identifies himself as a filmmaker, and donated $1,600; The Tennessee Laborer’s PAC with a donation of $1,000; Abdul Ahad Khandakar, a Murfreesboro physician with the Tennessee Valley Health Care System, who donated $1,600. The Buffalo PAC, a political action committee made up of African-American business leaders, donated $750; the Women in Numbers PAC, donated $200.

Men finished back in the pack for raising campaign funds during the most recent reporting period; incumbent Fabian Bedne reported raising $17,763.

Michael Craddock, a former district councilmember, raised $15,200; $15,000 of it was money he loaned himself.

Bob Mendes, an at-large incumbent, raised $17,468.

Steve Glover, an incumbent district council member who is making a run at an at-large seat, reported raising $13,125.

Gary Moore, a firefighter and former Tennessee state representative, raised $10,460.

Sharon Hunt, who is president and CEO of Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, reported receiving $9,970 in contributions.

Gicola Lane, who is seeking a council seat for the first time, is an activist who worked to established police oversight board. Lane reported raising $9,373.

Howard Jones reported receiving $500. Jones is senior pastor of Fairfield M.B Church in Goodlettsville and an assistant principal at Stratford High School.

Three at-large candidates reported raising no money in the early July period: Rueben Dockery, James Dillard and former councilmember Adam Dread. During the previous reporting cycle, Dread reported loaning himself $100,000 for the council race.


Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 Investigates team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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