District 10 Senator Andy Berke studying his political future

photo Tennessee State Senator Andy Berke

While still keeping future political aspirations under wraps, District 10 Sen. Andy Berke plans to make an announcement regarding his future in the next couple of weeks, he said at a town hall meeting Thursday.

"I've said that I'm seriously considering running for mayor, but my goal is to work on the issues that affect the lives of my neighbors," he said. "I care deeply about the economic future and the standard of life in this area. I want to make sure that I'm in the right job to do that."

Instead, Berke addressed unemployment, crime and education, calling them "major issues" at both a local and state level. "In reality, I'm just here to talk to people in this community," he said.

Chattanooga's unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, which is better than the state's, which is 8.7 percent, or about 270,000 people, he said.

"These are people that haven't given up on looking for a job, either," Berke said. "They want to work."

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Tennessee has the third-most automotive manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

"I've encouraged that Tennessee become the No. 1 producer of energy-efficient automobiles by the year 2020," he said. "We should build on our strengths. We could be a nexus for clean energy."

Sitting in on the meeting was Boyd Patterson, coordinator for the city's Gang Initiative who helped Berke field a question from an audience member regarding crime. He brought up his four-dimension model to use for eliminating gangs, which includes prevention, intervention, suppression and, if it comes to it, the stark reality of the consequences in gangs.