Franklin official Gabrielle Hanson appears to launch mayor campaign sans legal filings

Hanson has drawn controversy for months and is scheduled for an ethics hearing

By: - July 11, 2023 6:01 am
Williamson County Courthouse in Franklin, Tenn. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Williamson County Courthouse in Franklin, Tenn. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Franklin Alderman Gabrielle Hanson, already scheduled for one ethics committee hearing later this month, may be campaigning for mayor without having filed the appropriate paperwork.

On July 3, Williamson County School Board member Eric Welch posted a photo online of a “Gabrielle Hanson for Mayor” sign outside a residential home in Franklin. The sign identified Drew Lonergan as treasurer of the campaign and said it had been paid for by “Friends of Gabrielle Hanson.”  As of Friday, Hanson had yet to request or fill out any of the required paperwork for a mayoral campaign, according to a Williamson County Election Commission official. The qualifying deadline for Franklin municipal candidates is Thursday, July 20 at noon and the election is set for Oct. 24. 

Incumbent Mayor Ken Moore has already announced he is running for reelection.

Gabrielle Hanson, Franklin, Tenn., Board of Mayor and Aldermen. (Photo:
Gabrielle Hanson, Franklin, Tenn., Board of Mayor and Aldermen. (Photo:

According to the election commission, candidates must be issued and file a nomination petition by the deadline in order to run for office. As well as meeting residency and other requirements, candidates are also required to file periodic financial disclosure reports — making it unclear how the group listed on Hanson’s campaign sign is operating or what might happen if a financial report were to be filled that predates a legal candidacy.

In his capacity as a private citizen and as a voter, Welch said Hanson’s behavior is extremely concerning and not becoming of a potential mayoral candidate.

“This is the lowest hurdle to get past, just being trustworthy and honest and willing to follow the law,” Welch said. “It reflects on the community and our ability to attract businesses and residents. If there’s this disregard for following the rules on something as simple as publicly declaring for a race and starting raising money, that’s a huge red flag.”

Hanson first drew controversy in March, when she publicly opposed markers commemorating victims of lynching, and in April she claimed — without offering proof — on a right-wing podcast that the shooter who killed six people at Nashville’s Covenant School in March was motivated by a love triangle gone awry. The city’s ethics commission declined to refer her for a full ethics hearing, despite receiving more than 60 citizen complaints, on the grounds she did not speak in her official capacity as alderman.

She is currently set to go before a full ethics committee hearing on July 27 at noon to review seven citizen complaints lodged after she sent an email to Metro Nashville Airport Authority President and CEO Doug Kreulen and fellow members of the airport board. Hanson said that if BNA did not retract its support for a Juneteenth festival in Franklin, citizens would retaliate by preparing “to post publicly and link this support to each and every board member, along with their business interests so that the public will know that the board of BNA is financially supporting, and in agreement with, radical social justice agenda’s in towns where they literally should have no voice.”

On Thursday, the ethics committee selected Machelle Thompson, lifelong Franklin resident and associate dean of compliance at Meharry Medical College’s school of dentistry, to fill a vacancy left by former member Juanita Patton’s recusal. Thompson will join the committee for the July 27 hearing with Hanson.

Neither Hanson nor Lonergan were available to comment on this story.


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Lonnie Lee Hood
Lonnie Lee Hood

Lonnie Lee Hood is a queer Nashville-based writer covering justice, LGBTQ issues and more. They are an amateur roller-skater and live with their hedgehog, Noodle, and three-legged cat, Tom. They are writing a debut novel and have published poetry and sci-fi/fantasy short stories.