Nashville Metro City Councilman Freddie O’Connell Talks About His Educational and Professional Background

Apr 12, 2023

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Freddie O’Connell, a Metro City councilman and Nashville mayoral candidate, in studio to discuss his education and professional background.

Leahy: Right now we’re having a fun time in studio with city councilman Freddie O’Connell, who’s running for mayor. Freddie, are you having more fun than you thought you might have here?

O’Connell: Watch out because you gave me coffee. I told Patrick on the way in, I’m usually only up before six in the event of a crisis.

Leahy: It’s a crisis. It’s a fun crisis. Now you’re running for mayor. We’ll get to that in a second. What’s your background? Where are you from and how did you become a Metro Council member?

O’Connell: Yes. I’m from just a couple of miles away. Grew up here in Nashville, Tennessee—second generation Tennesseean. My mom’s from out in Dickson, I went to a mix of public and private schools here, partly again because of family. My brother and I went to Akin Elementary, K-6 again, just around the corner.

And then my mom managed to get a teaching position that was a dream job for her. She was a foreign language teacher and taught French. And she got a position at MBA. And I’ll tell you when you have two boys, and you’re teaching there, there’s a nice faculty benefit.

Leahy: Did you go to MBA?

O’Connell: I did. I went away for college. I knew I wanted to.

Leahy: Now, when you went to MBA, did they still have the Sam Davis sign in there?

O’Connell: No. It was interesting because I feel like I got there at a time when the school was…

Leahy: Changing a little bit.

O’Connell: Changing a little bit.

Leahy: Where’d you go to college?

O’Connell: I went to Brown University up in Rhode Island.

Leahy: Of course you went to Brown—the lefty of the lefts. Come on. Brown is the most left-wing Ivy League college. Would you agree with that?

O’Connell: I think that’s probably true.

Leahy: Were you hanging there at the same time as John F. Kennedy, Jr.?

O’Connell: No. I remember who did we have there? We had, I think, maybe was it Steven Spielberg had a kid there.

Leahy: And so did, you came back to Nashville, what do you do for a living?

O’Connell: I’ve been in software and technology for a long time. I’m very appreciative for years either, at, sometimes I’ve had my own business, which is, you certainly have a little flexibility there, but I’ve also had. Opportunities to be with software companies that have let me have the footprint I’ve had in civic life for a long time.

Leahy: Are you a software developer?

O’Connell: I started off that way.

Leahy: Did you write code?

O’Connell: I used to, now I write less.

Leahy: But you do write code.

O’Connell: Oh yeah. I knew when I went to college, that was one of the reasons I chose Brown. They had a great computer science program.

Leahy: But now you don’t write code so much; what do you do?

O’Connell: No. Most recently, I’ve been an architect, which is where it’s more on the kind of design side of things. So I’ve been over at HealthStream for the past several years.

Leahy: That’s a great company.

O’Connell: It is a great company, great leadership, and I couldn’t believe it because about a year ago, I had a serious conversation with them about, hey, I am getting a lot of inquiries and interest in what I do next, and there’s a potential of running citywide, and they basically said, hey, let us know what you’re gonna do when you’re gonna do it. We’ll be clear with teams, and we’ll work it out.

Leahy: That makes sense. When were you first elected to a Metro Council?

O’Connell: 2015.

Leahy: 2015. You’re running for mayor.

O’Connell: Yes.

Leahy: How much money have you raised in your first financial report?

O’Connell: I announced last year. And so, we spent a good bit of 2022 building the foundation for the campaign and then continued into this year. So we’re at about, I think we just disclosed yesterday, around $415,000 total raised.

Leahy: That you’ve raised?

O’Connell: Yes.

Leahy: How much do you have left?

O’Connell: $300,000.

Leahy: In the bank?

O’Connell: Yes.

Leahy: That’s pretty good. Not bad. That’s not bad at all. How much is it gonna take to win?

O’Connell: As I was thinking about challenging an incumbent mayor back last year, I knew that Matt Wilshire, who I’ve known for years, had a very strong interest in running and would probably run. And so I knew we would not even be in the top two, probably from a fundraising perspective. And I said, look if we can raise $500,000, I know we can be competitive every step we take closer to a million dollars. I know we are going to be in the mix, in the top tier of the candidates. And so far, we’ve hit every step.

Leahy: So you got a shot?

O’Connell: We’ve got a shot.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Freddie O’Connell” by Freddie O’Connell. Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by euthman. CC BY-SA 2.0.