Women’s Caucus Members Share Their Thoughts on Power

Votes for Women Sets the Stage to Explore Women’s Rights

Women's Caucus of the Metro Council tours Votes for Women

"What does the future look like for women and girls?"

That’s what we asked 20 women lawmakers who were at the Main Library to tour the future space of Votes for Women, a new exhibit set to open in June. 

Votes for Women will tell the pivotal and dramatic story of Nashville’s role in winning women the right to vote and also provide a space to explore the core themes surrounding women’s roles, democracy, and power.

Since these lawmakers make up Nashville and Davidson County’s first-ever half-women Metro Council, we couldn’t think of a better group to ask about the nature of power and the power of change while they were here.

Here's what they had to say.

Council Women Emily Benedict

Emily Benedict

Emily Benedict is the Council Woman for District 7.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want barriers to leadership of all kinds to be removed for the next generation of women.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

Voting is the most basic right in a democracy and should always be open to as many people as possible. Exercising one’s right to vote allows their voice to be heard, allowing for equal representation for every American.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I would like every girl and woman to understand that they are suited for positions of power, and that no one can equal our power when we all come together to further women’s rights.

Council Member Erin Evans

Erin Evans

Erin Evans is the Council Member for District 12.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want accessibility to be different for the next generation of women. There are a number of barriers that women face if they’re interested in politics. By sharing knowledge, serving as a mentor, and demystifying government, I’ll encourage more women to get involved.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

Using my right to vote is a moral imperative. It’s my responsibility to exercise the right the suffragettes worked so hard to get. Shaping the future with my vote for all of the young women in my life is very meaningful to me.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I’d like to continue to build my skills and knowledge so I can become an expert on everything related to the Metro Council. With experience comes institutional knowledge, and I crave having that level of confidence and power.

Jennifer Gamble

Jennifer Gamble is the Council Member for District 3 and the Founder and CEO of Nelson PR & Communications.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want the dream to be different for the next generation of women. The dream for the women’s suffrage generation was for women to have the right to vote, and our generation has benefited from the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The dream for our generation is to have income equality for women, and we will continue to fight until income equality is the norm for the next generation of women. My hope is that the dream of the next generation of women is to take the women’s movement to the next level, whatever that may be.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

For me, the right to vote means that I have a say in how we live in America — socially, politically, and economically.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I wish I had the power to go back in time to thank leaders of the women’s suffrage movement such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, and Ida B. Wells, and tell them how their fight for voting rights will break barriers and pave the way for generations of women to lead, serve in elected positions, and change the world.

Council Member Tonya Hancock

Tonya Hancock

Tonya Hancock is the Council Member for District 9 and a board member of Nashville Striders.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women? 

I want expectations to be different for the next generation.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

The right to vote was the next step in equality and leads to hope that we could eventually have a woman President, too.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I wish I had the power to do it all; as a military spouse, a mom of a MNPS student, a business professional, and my role in Council, I certainly have the desire!

Sharon W. Hurt is an At-Large Council Member

Sharon W. Hurt

Sharon W. Hurt is an At-Large Council Member and the CEO/President of Jefferson St. United Merchants Partnership.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want opportunities to be different for the next generation.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

Freedom. When women work together collectively it empowers them and gives the freedom to have, freedom to do, and freedom to be.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

Access to capital. Lack of capital has limited the voice of women and their ability to actualize their own power.

Zulfat Suara is an At-Large Council Member

Zulfat Suara

Zulfat Suara is an At-Large Council Member.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want equal participation in all levels of government to be the norm for the next generation of women. One hundred years after women’s right to vote, we are still getting a lot of firsts (first Muslim, first American Indian, etc.). I hope, in the next couple of years, all those barriers will have been broken and having women of all races, sexual orientations, religions, as well as having a majority of women in government, will no longer be considered groundbreaking.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

The right to vote is my right to have a voice. A voice in my representation, a voice in the decision being made. I also believe the right to vote is something that should not be squandered as many put their bodies and lives on the line for it.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

The power for local government to be able to make decisions on what is best for their residents without state interference.

Joy Styles is the Council Member for District 12.

Joy Styles

Joy Styles is the Council Member for District 32.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want wage equality to be different for the next generation of women. Women now work more than ever, and more women are working while many of their husbands stay at home or work, but make less money than they do. I see this trend increasing. I look forward to seeing our hard work and contributions finally be valued on a level playing field.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

For me, the right to vote equates to freedom. It means that my voice matters, that all voices matter, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or race. It provides us all with the opportunity to be change agents in order to make our communities stronger, more unified, and equitable.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I wish I had the power to compel people to tell the truth. So many of our societal issues stem from a lack of transparency and honesty, even in the most innocuous of situations. I find the truth, whether good or bad, to always be the best foundation to work from in order to create solutions. As I look at our society today, this is a perfect example of what is needed.

Kyonzte Toombs is the Council Member for District 2

Kyonzté Toombs

Kyonzté Toombs is the Council Member for District 2.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want societal norms to be different for the next generation of women. I want it to be normal for women to be heard and to be free of those that seek to police their bodies.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

The right to vote represents freedom. Freedom to choose the people that I feel will best represent me and my community. That freedom is power.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I wish that I had the power to get everyone to see that their freedom is not rooted in the oppression of others.

Tanaka Vercher is the Council Member for District 28.

Tanaka Vercher

Tanaka Vercher is the Council Member for District 28 and the Associate Director of Operations for Tennessee State University.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want the pipeline for opportunities for women to lead to be different for the next generation of women.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

The right to vote means I have human value and an active say in the democratic process.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

Termination of personnel power.

Ginny Welsch is the Council Member for District 16

Ginny Welsch

Ginny Welsch is the Council Member for District 16.

What do you want to be different for the next generation of women?

I want the world to be different for the next generation of women. I want women respected, treated as equals, and able to fully participate in every aspect of life, without constraint. Enough with outside forces having control over women’s autonomy, and that includes religion and politics and on and on and on.

What does the right to vote mean to you?

It means having a voice in shaping the world that we want. It means that our voice is valued and has a place in the mix. It means that we can decide for ourselves what matters to us and how we want to live our lives, and we can work to create ourselves as we see fit.

What form of power do you not have that you wish you did?

I wish that I could speak every language and dialect, so that I could immediately communicate and understand every other person on earth. The world would be a better place if we could all hear and understand.

Comments

All so well said. Thank you Women's Caucus!

Thank you, our great Library and its Votes for Women project, for capturing these inspirational thoughts by our city’s leaders! How lucky we are to have them taking us into the future.
With appreciation, Jeanie Nelson

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