NASHVILLE (July 31, 2019) – Tennesseans once led the way on civic engagement, but today our citizens vote far less regularly than most Americans. Voter turnout in Tennessee consistently ranks near the bottom of the nation — #50 in 2014 and #49 in 2016. When it comes to local elections, turnout is particularly low. Fewer than 25% of eligible voters participated in recent local elections in the state’s four largest cities: Memphis (21.9% in 2015), Nashville (17.3% in 2018), Chattanooga (14.1% in 2017) and Knoxville (2.6% in 2015).
To combat this trend and share best practices for increasing civic engagement, ThinkTennessee is joining with city and county mayors across the state to launch the Tennessee Mayors Growing Civic Engagement project. This project is the first of its kind in the nation.
Participating mayors will identify specific actions they can take to increase civic engagement, from deepening engagement with local youth by creating Mayor’s Youth Councils to convening community members to discuss the importance of civic participation.
“When it comes to increasing civic engagement at the local level, mayors know best,” said Shanna Singh Hughey, ThinkTennessee president. “We’re thrilled to help mayors from all parts of the state and both sides of the political aisle come together to help move Tennessee forward.”
Over the course of the project, ThinkTennessee will provide mayors with individual guidance and facilitate a community of practice to help tackle common challenges and scale solutions. At the end of the year, ThinkTennessee will share a summary report highlighting lessons learned and success stories from participating communities so that others might replicate what they achieved.
Current participants represent the geographic and political diversity of the state and include the following:
- City of Franklin: Mayor Ken Moore
- City of Kingsport: Mayor John Clark (2015-2019); Mayor Pat Shull (2019-)
- City of Nashville: Mayor David Briley
- City of Chattanooga: Mayor Andy Berke
- City of Columbia: Mayor Chaz Molder
- City of Memphis: Mayor Jim Strickland
- Chester County: Mayor Barry Hutcherson
- Shelby County: Mayor Lee Harris
- Weakley County: Mayor Jake Bynum
- Williamson County: Mayor Rogers Anderson
ThinkTennessee encourages additional mayors to become part of Mayors Growing Civic Engagement.