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Two-term Councilwoman Carol Berz will now lead Chattanooga's nine-member council. And Moses Freeman will be second in command, after the council voted Tuesday to nominate and elect the two.

Berz has served as the council's vice chairwoman for the last year, and she is now replacing Chip Henderson at the helm after pulling unanimous support from her colleagues.

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Chattanooga City Council member Moses Freeman speaks as a committee discusses a proposed change in the city's sound ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Chattanooga.
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Chip Henderson

In other business

In other business, Chattanooga City Council members:
* Approved a resolution to increase its contract with Code Studio Inc. from $199,974 to $222,474 for professional services in developing form-based code.
* Passed a resolution to allow the Youth and Family Development department to apply for and accept a $180,000 state grant to fund a summer food services program.
* Accepted two donated patrol bicycles from the Chamber of Commerce's downtown council.

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The council chairperson is responsible for conducting meetings and would serve as the city's mayor if the mayor's office became vacant, according to Deputy City Attorney Phil Noblett.

Berz, who was first elected in 2008 and has previously led the council's budget and finance committee and the body's human resources committee, said Tuesday she hopes to focus the council's planning meetings, and give committee leaders more latitude over the projects they take up.

"No two parts of the city are alike and we shouldn't treat them alike. These [council members] know best the needs for their areas," Berz said after the meeting.

Freeman said during the meeting he was thankful "for the confidence of the council people."

But Freeman didn't get the full council's support.

Councilman Larry Grohn was a lone "no" vote for the vice chairmanship.

After the meeting, Grohn said his vote was a protest vote against "the process." He said Freeman's nomination and election was the result of pressure from Mayor Andy Berke's administration.

"My vote wasn't against him personally, I feel he'll do a good job," Grohn said of Freeman. "Mine was a protest vote against what I feel was a lot of pressure and influence outside the nine members of this council who determined who the leadership would be this year and next year."

Lacie Stone, a spokeswoman for Berke's office, said Berke and his staff "have a really good relationship with the council members" and meet frequently to keep in touch with the goings on of the city.

"But at the end of the day, the council makes the final decision on matters like these -- the election of the chair and vice chair of the council," Stone said.

With Henderson, a Republican, leaving the chairmanship, the council -- an officially nonpartisan body -- will be led by two Democrats.

Berz said she didn't think that would have any major effect on how the council conducts business.

"The issues we deal with aren't Republican or Democrat issues, they are people issues," she said.

And Henderson received much acclaim from council members on opposite ends of his political spectrum.

Freeman said Henderson has "done a magnificent job. I think you have been fair, I think you have been considerate and I think we owe you a debt of gratitude," he said.

Councilman Chris Anderson, also a Democrat, had a similar sentiment.

"Over the last year, he has conducted himself with dignity and fairness and was a model for how to lead a diverse body," Anderson said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.

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