New law calls for Metro Council to be cut in half: What’s next?

We’re breaking down what this means for the future of the council — and the residents represented.

NASH-Courthouse-1 (2).jpg

Metro Council is currently made up of 35 district council members and five at-large members. | Photo by NASHtoday

Last week, state lawmakers voted to cap the number of council members for any metropolitan government at 20. The bill, which only impacts Nashville’s legislative body, was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee.

Q: How many council members are there now?

Nashville’s Metro Council consists of 40 members, including 35 district council members representing ~20,000 residents each and five at-large council members.

Do I still have the same council member?

Yes, for now. Use this interactive map to find your district council member.

So the bill passed — what are some possible scenarios?

As it stands now, Davidson County voters are set to elect a new mayor, vice mayor and Metro Council on Aug. 3. According to the bill, Metro can complete a new redistricting process this spring in time for the August election or extend current council member terms for one year.

The new redistricting plan would need to be approved by May 1. If current terms are extended, Nashville would hold a special election in August 2024 with a reduced council size.

While a formal decision hasn’t been made, Vice Mayor Jim Shulman announced two upcoming meetings in the Council Chambers:

  • Council members will attend an information session on Thursday, March 16 (4 p.m.) to leran more about the redistricting process.
  • Council members will meet again on Wednesday, March 22 (6:30 p.m.) at a special meeting to consider any resolutions and amendments filed related to the state bill.

Both meetings as well as subsequent meetings are expected to be livestreamed and recorded for later viewing.

Has Nashville always had 40 council members?

Yes — at least since 1963 when voters approved a consolidated city-county government. That’s not to say the 40-member council hasn’t been challenged over the years. As recently as 2015, Nashville residents rejected an amendment to reduce the size to 27 members.

So why did Metro start with 40 council members? The idea to consolidate Nashville and Davidson County was a decades-long debate — in fact, the first attempt at consolidation was rejected by voters in 1958. Small towns impacted by the consolidation were worried about losing local representation, and through much compromise, leaders settled on 40 members.

Didn’t I just get a new council member?

It’s possible. Local council and school districts are redrawn every 10 years based on census data to reflect changes in population. All areas of Davidson County experienced growth in the past decade, resulting in new representation for some residents when the redistricting plans were approved early last year. See the up-to-date council district maps.

More from NASHtoday