RELEASE | TIRRC Votes Issues First Endorsements in Nashville Election


CONTACT: Hamp Price |

TIRRC Votes Issues First Endorsements in Nashville Election 
Pro-immigrant group will support progressive slate of candidates for
Vice Mayor, Council At-Large

NASHVILLE — TIRRC Votes, an organization dedicated to building political power in immigrant and refugee communities, announced today its first round of endorsements for the Nashville elections.

The organization is putting its political force behind Burkley Allen, Fabian Bedne, Gicola Lane, Bob Mendes and Zulfat Suara in the race for Metro Council Members At-Large. The organization is also endorsing Vice Mayor Jim Shulman for re-election. 

“We’re proud to endorse this slate of progressive candidates who will ensure the Metro Council better reflects our community and our values,” said Stephanie Teatro, Co-Director of TIRRC Votes. “These candidates understand the powerful role that cities must play in protecting and investing in immigrant communities, especially in this historic moment. They earned our endorsement because they are serious policy makers who are focused on solving problems and have proven their commitment to ensuring equity and inclusion for Nashville’s growing immigrant community.”

The TIRRC Votes endorsements include two first-generation immigrants, Bedne and Suara, from Argentina and Nigeria, respectively. Bedne, the outgoing representative for District 31, is the first immigrant to serve on the Metro Council. If elected, Suara will be the first Muslim to be elected to Metro Council.

In 2017, Mendes introduced a measure, co-sponsored by Allen, Bedne, and Shulman, to disentangle local government agencies from efforts by federal immigration enforcement agents to deport and detain Nashvillians.

Lane was a leading force behind the successful 2018 referendum to create the Community Oversight Board, which was supported by TIRRC Votes.

The organization will be announcing endorsements in additional Nashville races in the coming weeks.  

TIRRC Votes launched last year in response to the unrelenting assault on immigrant families. For the 2018 midterm elections, the new group developed a large-scale electoral mobilization program that engaged nearly 170,000 voters, made 36,000 phone calls and knocked on nearly 19,500 doors.

Statewide, nearly 8,000 immigrants cast ballots for the first time and immigrant turnout increased 35 percent over the previous midterm election. In Davidson County, immigrant voters turned out at higher rates for the 2018 midterms than in 2016 presidential election.

“Last year our electoral work, which included nearly 200 canvassers from 17 countries, showed that Tennessee’s immigrant community is eager to elect leaders who will prioritize immigrant families and pro-immigrant policies,” Teatro said.

In Nashville, foreign-born residents account for nearly 13 percent of the population and more than a third of students in Metro Nashville Public Schools come from a household that speaks a language other than English.


TIRRC Votes was launched in 2018 to strengthen and expand our democracy by building power in immigrant and refugee communities and advocating for equitable and inclusive public policy. TIRRC Votes is affiliated with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

Rebecca Hall