Vanderbilt champions civic engagement by sponsoring election candidate forums, fostering active democracy

Vanderbilt has partnered with several community organizations, neighborhood associations, nonprofits and media outlets to provide opportunities for the community to become better informed about the choices they have in the August election. 

These public forums allow candidates to present their platforms and engage in discussions with community members. Voters can interact with candidates, understand their perspectives and make informed decisions. 

Two forum events have been held, with three more to come between June 6 and July 11. The Nashville Metro general election for mayor, vice mayor, Metro council at-large and district councilmember takes place Aug. 3, with the runoff election set for Sept. 14. 

“A thriving democracy requires active civic participation, and we strive to empower the community to contribute by taking part in civic affairs. By being involved in the democratic process, community members can become agents of change, shaping the future of our city,” said Nathan Green, vice chancellor for government and community relations.

A low angle view of a long line of people waitng to vote in the elections.
  • The Phoenix Club of Nashville, in partnership with the Nashville Banner, held a mayoral forum on Monday, May 22, at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. Steve Cavendish, president and editor, and Demetria Kalodimos, executive producer of the Nashville Banner, moderated the discussion, which focused on the city’s future and each candidate’s vision for Nashville.
  • On Tuesday, May 23, Vanderbilt sponsored an event with Tennessee Voices for Victims, an agency that works on behalf of victims of crime in Tennessee. The night began with a fundraising reception where attendees learned about TVFV’s victim advocacy work in the community and state. The reception was followed by a free Nashville mayoral forum on crime.
  • The Nashville Business Journal is hosting a forum on Tuesday, June 6, at Vanderbilt University for candidates in the Nashville mayor’s race. This event is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, 310 25th Ave. S. Candidates for the city’s top leadership role will discuss Nashville’s rapid growth and other topics important to voters. This event is open to the Vanderbilt and Nashville community, and tickets are free. Register to attend.
  • On Saturday, July 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are co-hosting a Neighborhood Meet and Greet the Candidates Picnic in Fannie Mae Dees Park, 2400 Blakemore Ave. (also known as Dragon Park). The picnic is in collaboration with the Hillsboro-West End Neighborhood Association and Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors. This free event is open to the Vanderbilt and Nashville community and will feature candidates for mayor, vice mayor and Metro council at-large. There will be a complimentary picnic lunch and live music.
  • Moving Forward, a coalition of business and community leaders dedicated to improving transportation infrastructure in Nashville, will host a mayoral candidate forum at Meharry Medical College on Tuesday, July 11. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the topic will be centered around transportation. Vanderbilt is co-sponsoring this forum with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce,Cumberland Region Tomorrow, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, Walk Bike Nashville, The Transit Alliance and the Nashville Scene. Register to attend this free event.

“These local election forums play a vital role in the democratic process, empowering voters to voice their concerns and contribute to the vision for Nashville’s future. As our city continues to grow and evolve, it is critical for community members to have opportunities to engage with local government,” said Eben Cathey, senior director of local government relations.