published Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, city council members sworn in at Tivoli (with video)


by Cliff Hightower
Hundreds attend inauguration of new Chattanooga city officials
Hundreds of people attended the inauguration of the new Chattanooga City Council and Mayor Andy Berke at the Tivoli Theatre on Monday. Mayor Berke joins seven new city councilmen and two incumbents. The new leaders, along with several city department heads being replaced, mark one of the biggest times of transition in the city's history.
  • photo
    Mayor Andy Berke walks into a crowd of people at Chattanooga City Hall after his inauguration at the Tivoli Theatre.
    Photo by Patrick Smith.
    enlarge photo

NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS

• Chip Henderson, District 1

• Jerry Mitchell, District 2

• Ken Smith, District 3

• Larry Grohn, District 4

• Chris Anderson, District 7

• Moses Freeman, District 8

• Yusuf Hakeem, District 9

RETURNING COUNCIL MEMBERS

• Carol Berz, District 5

• Russell Gilbert, District 6

WHAT'S NEXT

The new City Council will convene for the first time today at its regularly scheduled 6 p.m. business meeting. The first order of business will be to elect a chairman and vice chairman.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's first order of business Monday included a tour of the 911 Center and meetings with his team — acting department heads and senior staff members.

His message was clear: Get to work at City Hall on Lindsay Street.

"People are energized and ready to take action," he said.

Chattanooga's 65th mayor was sworn in at the Tivoli Theatre, along with nine council members. Seven of the nine council members are new. Councilwoman Carol Berz is the only woman on the city's legislative body.

Each of the nine, along with Berke, took their oaths of office starting about 10:15 a.m. A crowd of more than 1,000 people packed into the theater.

Berke gave a 10-minute speech that focused on his coming back to Chattanooga after attending school in other cities. He spoke on his emphasis of public safety, economic development and youth development.

"It is past time for the needless shootings and killings to end," Berke said. "It is time to take action."

He also shared stories of Vickie, Donna and Tony, Chattanoogans whom he said he met while going door to door while campaigning. City officials later said they could not provide their last names or whether the three people attended the event.

Later, Berke walked into City Hall as 200 supporters welcomed him on the steps. Berke thanked them for coming and waiting for him as he entered the building. Many of the supporters were city employees who sources said had received emails and calls from the administration telling them they should attend the event.

A sense of optimism rose from new City Council members.

Councilman Yusuf Hakeem said the atmosphere is different.

"It feels more joyful," he said. "It feels like we're on the same page."

Councilman Ken Smith said he is ready to move forward.

"The excitement and energy I feel from today is exciting," he said.

Berke has said his first order of business will be to unveil a new administrative and leadership structure. Eighteen department heads or staff members of former Mayor Ron Littlefield resigned or retired.

Littlefield addressed the crowd in the Tivoli just before the newly elected officials were sworn in. He said it is time for a new generation to leave its mark on city government.

"Today, we are putting our treasure in your hands," he said.

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