Berke right choice to help city grow

Berke right choice to help city grow

March 3rd, 2013 in Opinion Times

Times City Election Endorsements

The Chattanooga city election is Tuesday, March 5. Early voting is ongoing. Below are previously announced endorsements by the Chattanooga Times editorial page.

District 1

Tom McCullough

District 2

Jerry Mitchell

District 3

Pam Ladd

District 4

Jack Benson

District 5

Russell Gilbert Sr. (unopposed)

District 6

Carol Berz (unopposed)

District 7

Chris Anderson

District 8

Moses Freeman

District 9

Peter Murphy

City Mayor

Andy Berke

Andy Berke is not just the only choice: He's the right choice for Chattanooga's mayor.

He has energy and vision - two things clearly necessary to keep Chattanooga from again falling into middle-of-the-pack status among midsized U.S. cities.

Berke has made a concerted effort in recent months to talk and, in his words, "listen" to groups in - and yes around - Chattanooga. As well he should: Cities don't rise above the herd without incorporating good ideas from other places.

Berke is an experienced statesman having served as a senator in the Tennessee General Assembly, and despite criticism that some of his support comes from outside Chattanooga, he understands that cities don't operate in a vacuum.

He wants to use "outcome-based budgeting" to both prioritize city needs and deeds and to make city actions transparent - a laudable goal.

And despite our recent criticism over his not being the first to point to blighted properties owned by his father and uncle, he shouldn't be criticized for working to bring new prosperity to any blighted community in Chattanooga - including one where his family owns property. Unless, of course, the city's residents want a mayor who is from somewhere else and lives somewhere else.

Berke has pledged to make sure the city has a policy to prevent conflicts of interest for the mayor and also for other government employees. We trust that he will.

His opponents, Guy Satterfield and Chester Heathington, are good men, but they have neither the experience nor the broad vision and understanding needed for Chattanooga's mayoral seat.

Andy Berke should be Chattanooga's next mayor.

For City Council:

• Tom McCullough, former principal at Signal Mountain Middle/High School and a former superintendent of Chattooga and Early county schools in Georgia, is a proven leader who understands what is needed for problem-solving. He rises head and shoulders above other candidates in the District 1 race: Jim Folkner, Chip Henderson and Pat Hagan.

• Jerry Mitchell, who worked in City Hall with Jon Kinsey and Bob Corker, the city's most successful modern mayors, is the best choice in District 2. He faces Priscilla Simmons, a former city accountant, and Roger Tuder, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee

• Pam Ladd, a steady and experienced incumbent, is the best vote in District 3. She offers both fiscal caution and a broader view of city needs than does her challenger, Ken Smith.

• Jack Benson, a 12-year incumbent in the council's District 4 seat, is still the best choice there because he understands the value of planning, and of being faithful to that planning and zoning. The example is Hamilton Place, where Benson has dogged the blueprint for years to keep it consistent and to concentrate growth so the mall would not lose customers. He has the greatest number of opponents: Realtor Ryan King, businessman Tom Tomisek, self-described citizen volunteer lobbyist Scott McColpin and tea party activist Larry Grohn.

• Russell Gilbert Sr. is unopposed for District 5.

• Carol Berz is unopposed for District 6.

• Chris Anderson, the thoughtful and energetic director of food and beverage services in the Bluff View Arts District as well as an executive committeeman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, is the clear and best choice for District 7. He hopes to unseat eight-year incumbent Manny Rico and best other opponents Karl D. Epperson and Tramble Stephens.

• Moses Freeman is the choice to bring steady and thoughtful integrity to District 8 and replace incumbent Andraé McGary. Freeman, a longtime civic leader, former city administrator and developer here, will bring more than just glib talk to the council.

• Peter Murphy, the take-charge, one-term incumbent in District 9, takes both a business and neighborly approach to his City Council seat. He is the clear choice against challenger Yusuf Hakeem, retiree and former 15-year City Council member who left office to pursue a successful state probations career.