As he prepares to take office Sept. 1, Hamilton County Mayor-elect Weston Wamp announced on Thursday his 16-member transition team.
Wamp said the group consists of leaders from a cross-section of disciplines, including health care, education and public safety, who will serve as intermediaries as he familiarizes himself with the existing conditions of county government.
"Everybody on the team brings a specific set of skills and expertise that we thought would be helpful as we assess county government today and make plans for the future," Wamp said in a phone interview.
Wamp, a Republican, won the general election last Thursday against Democrat Matt Adams. He will succeed outgoing Mayor Jim Coppinger, who opted not to run for re-election after serving in the role for 11 years.
Hamilton County commissioners appointed Coppinger, then a member of their ranks, to the position in 2011 after then-Mayor Claude Ramsey left to join the administration of former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. This will be county government's first full transition in 28 years, Wamp said.
"We want to be clear that we're grateful to the people who make county government run every day, and we can't wait to work with them," Wamp said. "But I come from outside county government, and I thought it was really important for me to have a transition team of folks who could go before me, meet with a lot of the key leaders within county government, make policy recommendations long-term but also get a feel for the leaders across county government currently."
Wamp's team includes Erlanger Health System Board Chairwoman Sheila Boyington, former Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, former Hamilton County school board Chairman Kenny Smith and Krystal Scarbrough, principal of the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.
Wayne Cropp, an environmental attorney with the law firm Baker Donelson, is another member of Wamp's transition team and sees his role as an advisory one. He's the former executive director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau and a former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. Cropp said he has known Weston Wamp and the Wamp family for years.
"I have a little bit of political experience as well as business experience," Cropp said by phone. "I think very highly of Weston, and I'm excited to see what we're going to be able to do together for the community."
Dr. Kelly Arnold, founder of Clinica Medicos, is also part of Wamp's transition team and said in a statement that her organization enjoyed a great relationship with the Coppinger administration. She said it's heartening to know Wamp will continue to prioritize public health and reaching underserved populations.
"I look forward to doing whatever I can to assist Weston with a seamless transition out of sincere interest and dedication to further helping Chattanooga and Hamilton County's families," Arnold said.
Clinica Medicos is Hamilton County's only comprehensive bilingual primary care clinic that specializes in treating the region's underserved Latino population. It played a pivotal role in the county's coronavirus response by offering free community testing and helping local health officials address health disparities and barriers to COVID-19 care.
The transition team held its first meeting Thursday, Wamp said, and will convene weekly. Early next week, the team will open an online portal where current employees can provide their input and prospective employees can send resumes.
"Our hope is to come in and bolster the good work that's already being done," Wamp said. "It's really important to us that county employees from the top to the bottom are at ease, and hopefully in the months to come, if they're not already, will become confident in the work that our administration will do."
The transition team consists of Democrats and Republicans, Wamp said, and also reflects priorities he outlined on the campaign trail. Smith and Boyington, for example, offer qualified perspectives on education and workforce development, he said.
"I often talked about how I felt like education and workforce development are the same," he said. "I don't know that enough political leaders think that way, but I believe it to be true. I ran as an education-focused county mayor. I think one of the real specific ways that a county mayor has an opportunity to bring additive leadership to education is to focus on workforce development, which ties directly into economic development, which has traditionally been a focus of the county mayor."
Another member of the transition team, Cory Gearrin, is an investor who also played baseball professionally in the Major Leagues.
Although it's not why he asked Gearrin to serve, Wamp expects Gearrin will offer interesting input on plans to construct a new multiuse stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts, which recently cleared the Hamilton County Commission and Chattanooga City Council.
"It's not a secret that I believe our current mayors rushed us into a stadium that I believe most of the public was opposed to," Wamp said. "I suppose that the community, whether they wanted it or not, is going to get a stadium, and to the best of our ability we're going to try to improve that process and bring some transparency to it where it lacks completely."
The 16 members of Hamilton County Mayor-elect Weston Wamp's transition team are:
- Kyle Bryant, (co-chair), partner, Market Street Partners
- Nick Macco (co-chair), founder, Legacybox
- Kelly Arnold, M.D., founder, Clinica Medicos
- Alexis Bogo, president, Hamico
- Sheila Boyington, president, Thinking Media; board chairwoman, Erlanger Health System
- Wayne Cropp, of counsel, Baker Donelson
- Cory Gearrin, 10-year MLB professional baseball player, Major League Baseball Players Association executive committee
- Dank Hawkins, community leader
- John Healy, partner, Wolftever Development
- Sudave Mendiratta, M.D., chairman, emergency medicine, Erlanger Health System
- David Roddy, retired police chief, Chattanooga Police Department
- Krystal Scarbrough, principal, Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts
- Kelly Simmons, captain (retired), Chattanooga Fire Department
- Joe Smith, Founder, Y-CAP; Hamilton County school board member
- Kenny Smith, retired training director, Chattanooga Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, former Hamilton County school board chairman
- Aaron Webb, of counsel, Hall Booth Smith, P.C.
Reporter Elizabeth Fite contributed to this story.