As Chattanooga City Council District 8 representative Andrae McGary embarks on his campaign to win the 10th District Tennessee Senate seat, he said he isn't leaving behind the concerns of his current constituents; he's taking them with him.
"These four years have been the absolute best four years of my life," he said of his city council term. "Like a lot of other districts, District 8 is a wonderful blend of business and community. That wonderful mixture has allowed me to be more balanced as a politician."
McGary said he's used to listening to a diverse set of needs and is ready to represent that diversity in Nashville. The Orchard Knob resident is a former talk show host and represents a City Council district that includes both big business like BlueCross BlueShield and many low-income minority residents.
With the primary election Aug. 2 and the general election in November, he will remain on Chattanooga's City Council through the end of the year, even if he is elected as senator. If he takes office as senator, the council will appoint his replacement through the end of his term. If he is not elected, McGary said he will remain on the council through March 2013 but does not plan to run for re-election.
"After much prayer and consideration, I feel like I have the opportunity for the biggest impact on state and federal matters," said McGary. "Jobs, education and health care are the issues I'm running on, and none of those are local matters."
Yet McGary said he is still committed to local matters and his constituents even though he will be actively campaigning during the majority of his remaining city council term.
"Make no mistake; the campaign doesn't make me less engaged," he said. "Look at my actions regarding the Bessie Smith Strut and I don't think there are anymore questions there."
As McGary campaigns in the area, he said he anticipates winning over Bradley County will be one of his biggest challenges.
"I know there are some people out there who don't want to listen to my message because there's a 'D' [for Democrat] behind my name," he said. "I understand that. I don't agree with it but I understand that. But I won't hold being a Republican against you if you don't hold being a Democrat against me."
McGary said he does not agree with people who say he is wasting his time running as a Democrat in a traditionally conservative area.
"Yes, I am a Democrat running as a Democrat," he said. "But to me there's only one type of ideas - good ideas. I'll vote for a Republican with a good idea."
McGary said his passion and desire to tackle big issues in politics instead of continuing the current stalemate is his main reason for running.
"How can we be happy about ending saggy pants when the bottom is falling out?" he said of current issues in Nashville. "People are fed up with the trite bills."
Contact Andrae McGary at email@example.com.