Mar 8, 2023 - Politics

Mayor Cooper weighs in on effort to cut the council

Photo illustration of Nashville Mayor John Cooper with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Leah Puttkammer/Getty Images

The Republican plan to cut the Metro Council in half is on the brink of becoming law, setting the stage for a bitter legal fight.

State of play: Legislation to cut the council from 40 members to 20 cleared the full House on Monday and a key Senate committee Tuesday.

  • That puts the bill on track for a full Senate vote in the coming days. Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign it into law.

The latest: Mayor John Cooper sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lee on Monday outlining his opposition to the plan.

  • Cooper asked the Republican leaders to give Davidson County voters the power to sign off on the proposal or to at least defer the measure one year.
  • Initially, lawmakers planned to extend the current council members' terms by one year, giving the city until 2024 to draw new lines. But the latest version of the bill allows the city to put new districts in place prior to the May 18 qualifying deadline to enter the race.

Of note: Cooper says there simply isn't enough time to implement new districts before the Metro election in August.

What he's saying: "Its passage will disrupt Metropolitan Nashville's operations and undermine its economy by creating legal uncertainty for anyone doing business with the city," Cooper told the top Republicans in his letter.

Zoom in: Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, who opposes shrinking the council, says he intends to wait for the Metro legal department to file its potential lawsuits before moving forward with implementing new districts.

Meanwhile: A legislative proposal to end runoff elections in local races was reintroduced in a Senate committee yesterday. Opponents, who believed the measure was dead this session, say the plan could open the door for a more conservative candidate to win a Nashville mayoral election.


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