NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville voters will have to head back to the polls next month to decide who will be the next mayor of Music City.
Councilman John Cooper and current Mayor David Briley will face off in a runoff election on September 12. Cooper came out on top with 36% of the votes, while Briley came in second at 26%.
Metro charter stipulates that a candidate must win more than 50% of the vote to hold office. Early voting numbers placed Cooper in the lead just ahead of Briley. More than 48,000 people voted early.
Early voting in the runoff election begins in a few weeks.
In all, 10 candidates ran for mayor, including Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Carol Swain.
Rep. Clemmons made his concession speech in which he thanked his supporters and congratulated both Briley and Cooper.
Shortly after his concession speech, Rep. Clemmons released the following statement:
My family and I would like to thank every volunteer, supporter, and neighborhood resident who stood up and made their voice heard in this election. I sincerely appreciate every person who stood by our side from the beginning, and every organization that endorsed our movement for equity, opportunity, and justice for all.
While we worked tirelessly for a different outcome tonight, I remain inspired by the people who call Nashville home. The residents of our many, diverse neighborhoods are Nashville’s greatest strength, and they are ready for real, progressive leadership focused on improving their family’s quality of life and protecting the character of our city.
It is an honor for me to be able to continue to serve the people of Nashville in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and I look forward to preparing for the legislative session ahead. I will be a better legislator and representative thanks to all those with whom I have met across our city and all that I have learned throughout this campaign.
Mayor Briley followed with his speech, saying he would continue to work hard for the city and that he was looking forward to the runoff against Cooper. However, in a press release, Briley had strong words for Cooper's tactics:
"My opponent is going to do two things in the runoff: He’s going to write himself a big check, and he’s going to use that money to try to convince Nashvillians that Nashville isn’t great anymore. That’s not leadership."
Even though Councilman Cooper is facing another election, his speech didn't show any disappointment. He and his supporters celebrated in full force, as he gave his victory speech. He also said he was ready for the runoff.
"This was a big moment in our city. It was a crossroads, but we can work together and build the greatest city in the country. And we have every reason to go forward with every hope and opportunity because we can work together," said Cooper. "We’ve done all the studies. We just need to look at the studies, and get the return on the investment proposal out of that and into a plan. We are the "it" city. We don’t want to become the "was" city.
Carol Swain was the last to make her concession speech after both Cooper and Briley celebrated their wins.
"You know money and politics. It bothers me that someone who was behind in all the polls can pop in $1.5 million basically and pretty much buy themselves a spot. And that's not what the democratic process is supposed to be about, but that's a flaw in American society and American politics," Swain said in an interview.
What else was on the ballot:
All 40 seats on the Metro Council were also on the ballot, including the five at-large positions.
Two proposed Metro Charter amendments passed by an overwhelming majority. One forces the mayor give more details about the city budget each year. The other amendment requires Nashville to become compliant with the state law that addresses vacancies on school boards.
When there is a vacancy on the Metro School Board in the future, the position will be filled by the Metro Council.
Jim Shulman was re-elected as Vice Mayor. He won more than 80 percent of the votes.
A total of 15 candidates ran for the Metro City Council at-large seat. Councilman Bob Mendes, is the only candidate who won outright, and will avoid a run off next month.
Mendes had 11 percent of the vote or just nearly 38,000. He took an early lead in tonight's election clinching a spot on council before all the votes were reported.
Mendes has been a council member for four years and is one of two incumbents running to retain their seat -- Sharon Hurt is the other.
A candidate needs more 10% of the vote to avoid the September runoff. The next eight candidates will battle it out for the four remaining seats in the September election.
Mendes told NewsChannel 5 it feels great to have the trust and confidence of the voters of Davidson County. Now he's ready to pick up where he left off in council.
"One of the biggest things that I worked on over the last four years is trying to improve financial transparency for the city - to make so the citizens have more of a say on what we spend money on and what parts of town we spend money on. And I'm looking forward to continuing that work for sure," said Mendes.
District one was a clear win for Jonathan Hall with more than 80 percent of the votes. There will be several runoffs for Metro Council districts including district two with Decosta Hastings and Kyonzte Toombs.
District seven also saw an extremely close race between Clint Camp and Cole Rogers to take on Emily Benedict. Only three votes separate Camp and Rogers.
The election commission will certify the ballots in this race, as they do all races to determine who makes the runoff. Other districts that will be a runoff include District 5, 7, 13, 16, 21, 23, 26 and 30.