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HomeUncategorizedA Belmont Student Experience of the 2023 Nashville Mayoral Debates 

A Belmont Student Experience of the 2023 Nashville Mayoral Debates 

Junior political science student Jaymey Hedberg shares her evolution from “observer” to “converser”

Politics have always seemed further than an arm’s length away for me until I got a hands-on experience to see the 2023 Nashville mayoral debate proceedings up close. Prior to debate day, I was given the opportunity through Belmont University to publish a story with The Tennessean about issues I saw plaguing Nashville. It was a full-circle moment to hear some of the candidates voice my same concerns on the Fisher Center stage that I wrote from my bedroom. This experience not only aided me in my local awareness but my active engagement. I felt like my words were taken off the page and applied to real issues.  

Seeing my name followed by “Guest Columnist” was a surreal moment and I was incredibly thankful that I was given the space and platform to share my voice. I was so excited from my home state of Michigan that I sent my boyfriend on a mission to purchase the physical newspaper in Nashville so I could always have it tangibly in print.  

When given the choice to attend the debates or be behind the scenes with the candidates, I chose the latter. I have been an observer; I wanted to be a converser. I had seen the candidates as politicians, I wanted to meet them as people. I booked a flight to Nashville. After one layover, missed flight, and Uber, I finally arrived at the Fisher Center ready to be amidst the action (and to never step foot in an airport again)!  

Jaymey Hedberg poses for a picture with mayoral candidate Natisha Brooks at the 2023 Nashville Mayoral Debates.

As a volunteer, I escorted Matt Wiltshire, assuming the role of liaison between my assigned candidate and Belmont University. I briefed my candidate on the logistics regarding debate day and acted as a representative of Belmont’s hospitality. Matt Wiltshire was a pleasure to work with– his witty humor and pleasant demeanor contributed to my enjoyable experience and memorable evening.  

From Matt Wiltshire asking me first thing: “So, what’s your story?” to Natisha Brooks complimenting my outfit and asking to pose for a picture with me, the humanity of these candidates transcended their politicalness. Their intentionality and genuine, down-to-earth attitudes were evident even when they weren’t mic’d up.  

I am very humbled to have been in the presence of so many great people and minds, all passionate about the same thing–our beloved city. I am looking forward to future involvement with this race and the corresponding exchange of ideas, actualization of promises, and the realization of the city we all want to see thrive. 

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