Freddie O'Connell declares victory on Aug. 3. Credit: Nicole Williams

Riding a progressive wave that swept through the Metro Council and the vice mayor’s race, Freddie O’Connell finished first in the mayoral election with 27 percent of the vote, cementing a meteoric rise for the District 19 councilman who launched his campaign more than a year ago.

Republican Alice Rolli edged out former MDHA executive Matt Wiltshire for the second slot, gaining 20 percent of the vote. State Sen. Jeff Yarbro finished fourth, followed by state Sen. Heidi Campbell, Councilmember At-Large Sharon Hurt and Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite. 

“I’ve got a quick question: Is anybody out there ready to stay?” O’Connell said to a jubilant group of supporters at the Hutton Hotel in Midtown. “Very early this year, I shared with some of you and then more of you a very simple message of why I decided to run for mayor: I want you to stay.”

O’Connell built his reputation in the Metro Council as a transit advocate and policy wonk, but rose to prominence as a persistent critic of the $2.1 billion deal for a new Titans stadium.

Rolli, a former GOP operative who worked in Bill Haslam’s administration, ran on a platform of taxes and being tough on crime, pledging not to increase property taxes following Mayor John Cooper’s 34 percent increase three years ago. 

The race opened up in January following Cooper’s decision not to run for reelection. While O’Connell, Wiltshire and Hurt had already joined the race, Jim Gingrich, Yarbro, Rolli, Campbell and Wilhoite jumped in, turning the race into a free-for-all. 

The runoff will be held on Sept. 14. Early voting begins Aug. 24.

Steve is a three-decade veteran of newspapers, working around the country at places like the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune before returning home to Nashville in 2011 to edit The City Paper and Nashville...