Save the Firsts for Last

An anecdotal meandering through a mayoral candidacy by way of campaign firsts for Nashville

2018. Mayor of Nashville. The election that had so many contenders most of us weren't. But hey, there I was playing the star again, there I was up on the stage. For basic starters, the sheer number of candidates must have set some sort of record and, until I hear otherwise, I'm just gonna assume so without any sort of research or archival digging. I’m taking the same approach with the list below. By the numbers: a baker's dozen of co-applicants, 3 forums in as many weeks, and roughly a 30 day campaigning period between qualifying and election day. A long time period for a short turnaround: overwhelmed by the candidates, most groups submitted basic questionnaires, some extremely long (Central Labor Council’s was 7 pp; SEIU’s 5 pp.; NOAH even had 2 questionnaires laid out over an Excel spreadsheet) and then some news outlets chose coverage based on a criteria not yet known, and some never even reached out. A weird time indeed, and it called for a full on escape. With two young kids crying, pooping, needing to breastfeed, and peeing their carseats, the Redneck Riviera is a short 11 hour trip to help clear the head. Catch up on some sleep? Not likely, but get more sleep having had some beers- indeed. A few bushwhackers deep into the election day reckoning of fear (many voters unfamiliar with their chosen Selection did so because he wasn't the racist lady), I started to reflect: What went wrong, when did it happen, where was I, and why am I doing this. All inquiries unanswerable at the moment but good thoughts for ruminating later. What IS known: there were a lot of firsts, and coming in last (that's what happened right?) helped clarify the murky.


  1. The first candidate for Mayor to have wrestled professionally.

Fairgrounds. April 2017. Are they tearing it down for an office complex? Is the racetrack going away? Where will people be deafened by mufferless cars while drunk on cheap mass beer when it's gone? Why does the New York Times keep coming to town? And where do all the matching shirts people wear to council meetings go when it's over? Are all more questions we won't touch here but they do have answers, I'm just lazy, and wanted to provide context and move on here. Anywho, By all accounts, it was a pretty good time when Mr. Christmas squared off against “Stoneman.” Pitifully angled, the single can light for the show was blinding most of the cast and crew from Still the King, allowing them only silhouette views of the action. Kevin Farley and his lady-friend were honorary ringside bell-bangers. After all was said and done, I think I ended up losing money tho.


  1. The first male candidate not to wear a tie even once.

Not a single time. Look back at very picture of me available. I know for sure, because I didn’t even bust out a tie for Steeplechase.


  1. The first candidate for Mayor to have a set at a Comedy Club and a Mayoral Forum on the same Night.

Meharry Medical College. Thursday May 10. I was contacted early on by a rep from “Pumps & Politics” about participating in this second of 3 major fora. The most interesting guest was Acting Mayor David Briley because he didn’t even show up. Instead he had the stage all to himself at some Town Hall, instead of basking in the glory of full reveal of platform. The first forum, put on by the Tennessean at Nashville Public Library, I was able to end on a pretty high note introducing the brilliance of the CHIT show: a four-fold platform of Corruption, Hypocrisy Influence, and Taxes. Buuut, at this second forum is where I sprung legalization of weed, decriminalization of all drugs, and decriminalization of prostitution: audible gasps collide with some “hell yeahs” and we are in the swing of things, picking up our pace, and rolling on stage pretty solidly. Questions were not provided beforehand, so it was some sinking and’or swimming and clearly the audience couldn’t tell the difference. An interesting question about restorative practice at Metro schools allowed mt the entree into a wider discussion of these policies as praxis of restorative justice theory, but the woman asking the question was actually shouting over me when i was getting into my stride. Something about not wearing a tie makes people think they're on the same level. Anywho, a solid C+/B- performance on stage, that included some fun backstage joking with ralph Bristol, where his wife offered up her fond affection for my rantings on the Nashville Scene comments section. I had spouted so much blathering recitation of platform on paper I had forgotten the whole comment on Bruce Barry’s article, but it hit home with quite a wide audience. However, after exiting stage left, the forum event handlers tried to corral me back into a front row seat, but I made up some story about needing to find my ‘family,’ some friends who had shown up document the chaotic confusion.

Realizing we had gotten out incredibly early, I took advantage of the quick exit to hit up my old employer, one of the producers and a director from the Still the King, who was texting me pics of him with Kevin Farley, who was on tour and doing a set that night at Zanies. The trap was set, the opportunity was in place, and the subject en route to the scene of the second crime. I had to lie to the wife, who was tending to children, that the forum was running long, so if she asks about that night, just play it cool. The opener has already wrapped up and the night’s MC was on stage doing a decently funny middle of the road self-deprecating routine with a variation on the ‘small dumb hometown’ routine, but it wasn’t unbearable. I set down with Potsy and AMber and ordered a beer knowing full well i was gonna skip out early but he’d be down to cover it, since he probably ripped me off on the show and owed me a few beers anyway. The next act that was a Georgia boy of Korean descent who had been adopted as a child, so only knew backwoods Georgia and played on the asian kid in the rural south routine decently enough. Back to MC, she riffed on a few audience observations, and hyped them for Kevin, who busted out pretty happy to see some old co-workers and able to make a few jokes about pitifully small crowd size (Preds were playing a postseason series-ender that night) before transitioning into the invite for a localboy done good. Introducing me by referencing our behind the scenes antics for a show NO ONE EVER SAW made for some good inside humor and we went straight into interview style question-and-answer, wherein I revealed my identity crisis and did about 3 mins of stand-up, going through the platform and making anatomy based humor on local politicals. (It was my second time on stage at Zanies- first one was with Josh Wolf and Michael Cudlitz, for Josh’s “Fairly Normal” live audience podcast. That time was a group seating on stage (forum style) where I brought my infant daughter on stage for Michael to hold. It went about as expected- the crowd is wondering why there is a baby on stage at a drinking establishment but hey that’s between them and the cops and that’s probably past some sort of statute of lims now.)


  1. The first candidate for Mayor to raise $0.00

Check the financial disclosures. I’ve gotten several Tweeterers who did and they seemed pretty impressed by it. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before. The operating assumption here is that other past candidates have at least been invested enough to give themselves some money. I dont think Im even worth the time for a dime, though, so when all else fails, do nothing. This could probably use a historical factcheck.


  1. The first candidate for Mayor to ask citizens NOT to vote for him.

“Actively telling voters to not <what> for him?” read the Reddit post on a pretty in-depth thread that actually had more backstory in it than any article run by any ‘legit’ local news outlet. Yeah, that’s right: the website landing page even has 3 different poorly executed graphic design versions all saying, “Don’t Be a Fool, Don’t Vote for Sewell.”


As succinctly put to the Editorial Board of the Tennessean in their candidate questionnaire:

Because my platform includes a four-fold approach to city management through Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT), I must admit that I envy the political experience of my opponents and find it difficult to compete. Being a political newbie, I am not well acquainted with the hidden power structure that helps funnel massive amounts of money into the political arena for private gain from public resources. I would like to say that in order to ensure steady transfer of political titles to buttress a behind-the-scenes maintenance of continual influence, I cannot provide that safe passage. I have no access to the fountains of dark money to distribute. Don’t be a Fool, Don’t Vote for Sewell as a means to secure a more efficient implementation of CHIT.


  1. The first candidate for Mayor NOT to graduate from High School.

I dropped out of MBA in 1998, after my junior year and went straight to college under a program where they assume you’re a senior in high school and they allow direct entry into a limited number of classes. As it turns out I just didn’t do the senior year part. A year and a half after matriculating at MTSU, the Registrar’s office called and asked where my diploma was and I had to confess I never got one but then became slightly indignant because Ive actually be enrolled in college. So to comply with their regs I got a GED from Cohn Adult over winter break, only receiving my physical copy on the last day of late registration to start my 4th semester of college. GED officially issued January 27th, 2000.

Similar to the fourth #1 above, I’d like to get a firm grip on who has been attracted to this office. The pertinent distinction may be regarding candidates for Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County, an office that didn’t exist before 1963. Presumably, there may have been a few candidates for an early Nashville that did not graduate high school because the arrival of settlers typical precedes the establishment of schools for them.


  1. The first candidate for Mayor to wear the same shirt to every Mayoral Forum

Check the reel. I’m for real. A black polo with white buttons. I even wore it the night of my Defeat Party in Orange Beach on election night - a defeat for me but quite a victory for the CHIT show.


  1. The first candidate to offer to promote another candidate.

Thursday May 3. Coalition FOR Nashville Neighborhoods (C4NN) Mayoral Forum at Metro Nashville Education Association offices in Berry Hill. Schedule gets shifted around, but gets back to alphabetical order at end, with Sewell performing directly before Carol Swain. A 10-min series of questions from C4NN for each candidate also in series. Interior. Nighttime. Lobby right inside commercial  storefront main entrance. Players: carol swain and her It guy, Sewell and videographer, (fellow SAG actor Dean Shortland) and a representative for C4NN doing crowd control.

Swain: You were pretty funny at the Tennessean forum.

Sewell: Oh, thanks!

Swain: You’re having a good time doing this, huh?

Sewell: Yeah, it’s exhausting. I don’t know what I’m doing. Look my socks don’t match (Pulls up pant legs to reveal mismatched socks: one black, one white).

Swain: You know, since you’re telling people not to vote for you, you should tell them to vote for me.


Sewell: What’s that pay?


  1. The first candidate to have a film premiere during his campaign.

This will need a further fact-check, and research can be limited to recent history simply on the history of film alone.

The 1st annual Nashville Independent Film Festival, a 1-day celebratory assemblage of local indie work, opened on a Wednesday afternoon (May 9th) at 2 with a screening of “The Basement: An Unlicensed Mob Surgeon Board Review.” Designed to precede the Nashville Film Fest, they needed content, which surprisingly isn't lacking. Fresh off the second season of Still the King, I threw my hat in the ring alongside one local acting legend, Jeremy Childs, who afterwards went on to a recurring role in AMC’s adaptation of the graphic novel, Preacher. Granted it's a short film and yes the time slot was unfortunate but hey, I heard it kicked off the fest with some good laughs and writers Dean Shortland and Mac Cushing acted as MCs.