Nashville Democrat Janis Sontany says she won’t run for re-election. She’s the fourth Democrat in the state legislature to step down rather than run in newly redrawn districts.
Sontany has been a strong proponent for women’s issues in the Tennessee House over the last decade, representing a South Nashville district which sprawls across both sides of Nolensville Road.
The Republican controlled legislature redraw that district to make it more narrow and pushed it further south to the county line, essentially placing Sontany in a graphic area that was 70-percent new.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner believes the area still leans democratic, and the party has already been recruiting candidates.
“We knew about this a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been looking … we’ve talked to a couple of people….and I’m sure this announcement will spur a few more.”
Turner says Sontany may not be the last of House Democrats to take retirement rather than run in the newly drawn districts.
As previously drawn, the 53rd District ran from the shores of Percy Priest Lake in the east all the way past I-65 in the west.
The new district, redrawn this year following the 2010 census, pushes south along Nolensville Road.
Janis Sontany, 65, has served in the General Assembly since 2003.
Sontany declined to be interviewed on her decision, instead releasing a statement.
Mike Turner says she is one of the best legislators “on either side of the aisle.”
“She’s been very thoughtful. She’s not controversial but she stands her ground and defends her constituents better than probably anybody up here.
“With redistricting, they took away a good part of her district. And even though it’s still a Democratic district, we shouldn’t have any problem keeping the seat, she’s kind of represented the same group of people for 17 years, in both the [Metro] Council and up here. She just felt like it was time to spend more time with her family and then move on.”
The primary for state House and Senate contests is Aug. 2.
Sontany was an employee of the DuPont Corp. for 21 years, spending much of that assisting the company’s lobbyist in the halls where she later was a state representative. She was member of the Metro Nashville Council from 1995 to 2003.