City Councilman Larry Grohn has officially announced his campaign to run for mayor of Chattanooga in March 2017.
Grohn made his announcement on the steps of City Hall late Tuesday afternoon, standing against a backdrop of family and friends, each holding blue and yellow signs that read, "Believe in better."
A member of the Chattanooga Tea Party, Grohn has represented District 4 on the council since unseating the incumbent, Jack Benson, in 2013.
"We're experiencing a tremendous renaissance in Chattanooga," Grohn said. "The economic development, the opportunities that are available for a wide variety of individuals in any sort of business enterprise that's all great and good, but not everything is right in Chattanooga."
Grohn pointed a finger at the current administration under Mayor Andy Berke for failing to adequately address issues of poverty, violence and a lack of transparency in local government.
"It all sounds great to tout that we have a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, but the reality is there are many areas of our city that are deep pockets of poverty experiencing 16 to 40 percent unemployment," he said.
Touching on the Violence Reduction Initiative, Grohn said the city's flagship gang deterrent program is viewed as a failure by most Chattanoogans. "Bullets are still flying, people are still dying, and in many sections of our city, many people are living in fear."
Grohn did not provide many specifics on how he would begin to address the systemic issues he brought up, but did guarantee he would include $5 million to maintain Chattanooga's road infrastructure.
Shortly after Grohn's announcement, a spokeswoman for Berke's office issued a statement from the mayor defending his administration's work.
"We have made tremendous strides over the last three years as a city," Berke said.
"While there is more to do to make sure our rising prosperity reaches every neighborhood, I am proud of the results we have achieved and look forward to making an announcement in the coming weeks about continuing this work."
Fellow Councilman Yusuf Hakeem commented on Grohn's bid for mayor saying, "It is part of the American way, and he brings a voice that needs to be heard."
Staff writer Paul Leach contributed to this story.
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.