Metro Council member Sharon Hurt is entering the 2023 race for Nashville's next mayor.
Hurt has served Nashville as an at-large council member since 2015 and announced her mayoral campaign Monday.
"It's about taking care of our people, and as I look at this city, we have a tale of two cities here and I want there to be more equity and inclusion brought into the fold so Nashville can have a balance and be the best that we can be," she said. "As the next mayor, I will work my heart out to restore hope and prosperity on every forgotten block of our city."
Her campaign will focus on job creation, workforce development and incentivizing and supporting the growth of small businesses and nonprofits, which she calls the "anchors of our neighborhoods."
"We have a huge county and we've got to spread the wealth, and not just focus on our downtown, but put money all around this entire county so everybody can benefit, and that will still include our downtown community," she said.
Hurt joins District 19 Council member Freddie O'Connell and Nashville economic development and affordable housing veteran Matt Wiltshire in the growing candidate pool. First-term Mayor John Cooper has yet to announce whether he plans to run for reelection, though campaign finance disclosures show he has continued to fundraise. Nonprofit leader Hal Cato contemplated a mayoral run for months but declined to launch a campaign this fall.
During her Metro Council tenure, Hurt has been an outspoken advocate for the inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses and supported the creation of an equal opportunity program for businesses seeking to contract with the council.
She said she was proud to support the creation of the Community Oversight Board to oversee Metro's police department. The board was established by voters via referendum in 2018.
She carried legislation asking Nashville Electric Service to round up electricity bills to the nearest dollar (unless customers opt out) to contribute to Home Uplift, a program providing weatherization for homeowners with limited income. That program went into effect in January.
Hurt also spearheaded efforts to honor civil rights activists by renaming a portion of Charlotte Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a portion of Fifth Avenue to Rep. John Lewis Way and Hadley Park to Hadley-Lillard Park in memory of activist Kwame Leo Lillard.
Hurt is a longtime community advocate known for her work in North Nashville. She retired as president and CEO of Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (JUMP) in September 2021 after 23 years with the organization, which is centered on spurring revitalization and investment along Jefferson Street.
Under her leadership, JUMP grew from about 11 members to more than 200, and the organization's budget ballooned from $50,000 to around $800,000. The organization's reach expanded to create affordable housing, a transportation service for seniors, a youth program, a driver's license restoration program, and workforce development and economic development offerings, Hurt said.
"I made people believe in Jefferson Street," she said.
Hurt continues to serve as the executive director of StreetWorks, a nonprofit working to eliminate the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Hurt served as the 2021-2022 president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.
She holds a bachelor's degree from Tennessee State University and a master's degree from Belmont University, and was recognized as an honoree at the YWCA's Academy for Women of Achievement in 2016.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville Council member Sharon Hurt launches 2023 mayoral campaign