|Councilman-Elect Fabian Bedne|
Photo by John Lamb
Back in 2009, Tim Ghianni interviewed Bedne for the Nashville City Paper, for a piece about the growing Hispanic political voice in Nashville. Bedne explained what brought him to seek a Metro Council position when he ran the first time:
He said he drew the courage to run from his participation in community meetings that examined development and zoning proposals for his once-rural neighborhood stretching almost to Nolensville. “I was just going to meetings and saying what I thought,” Bedne said. And before he knew it, he was one of the first Latinos to seek elected office in Nashville.Earlier this year, in February, the City Paper ran a cover story by William Williams on the politically involved Latinos in town, and Bedne was the focus of the intro and conclusion of the story (he wasn't featured on the cover, because the CP didn't want to imply an endorsement of Bedne's already-declared candidacy). Williams wondered aloud, not about whether Bedne was a viable candidate, but about whether Nashville was ready for a Latino elected official:
If any Hispanic person is to claim victory in a district Metro Council race, it is Bedne. Just don’t mention the “Latino Factor” to him. “It’s not what motivates me,” he said of the thought of serving as the Metro Council’s first Hispanic. He ran for the seat in 2007 and finished second to Parker Toler. “Latinos run for office because they are proud Americans.” But pride for country is one thing. Making Nashville history is a much different proposition. Until the Aug. 4 election date, Bedne — whether he wants to downplay the ramifications or not — will be in the middle of an enticing speculation: Is Nashville ready for a Hispanic Metro Council member? Is District 31?Yes. Yes we are.
Earlier this year, we learned that Nashville is 10% Hispanic. Mere days ago, Ana Escobar became the first Latina to head a department of Metro Government. Both Escobar and Bedne were born in South America - Escobar in Colombia, and Bedne in Argentina. I'm reminded of young Ellie in the Disney movie "Up," who at one point declares, "South America: it's like America, but South!"
Fabian Bedne has found the sweet spot of being an American and a Southerner in two different places and in two different contexts. Now he begins the uniquely democratic job of representing - from within government - his fellow residents of District 31, who are also his fellow Americans and fellow Southerners.
There is no doubt that this election was a big win for Bedne, for Nashville, for Nashville's Latinos, and for the ongoing story of American immigration, opportunity, and democracy.
Congratulations, Councilman-elect Bedne. Congratulations, Nashville. Congratulations, District 31.
To read Bedne's election night speech, visit his web site at bednefor31.com