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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Christopher Dahl rebuts a question about equity during a debate with Tennessee House of Representatives District 28 candidates and Hamilton County Commission District 4 candidates hosted by the NAACP Monday, July 23, 2018 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Student Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Local entrepreneur Christopher Dahl announced his candidacy for mayor of Chattanooga on Monday, citing progressive ideas.

Dahl, 39, is a libertarian who says he wants the role in order to invoke and enforce new and meaningful policies in the city.

"We need somebody who's willing to take and push progressive ideas, new ideas," he told the Times Free Press on Monday. "We also need somebody who's willing to, you know, make sure that policy is followed or, if it's not working, then they need to be willing to challenge that policy as well."

Dahl is a self-proclaimed city historian who created the nonprofit Chattanooga Has History to preserve artifacts, stories and literature that "illustrate the era of days gone by in one of the most historical cities in the Southeast and provide an enjoyable experience for everyone."

On his campaign's Facebook page, Dahl, a native of Shelbyville, Tennessee, and a longtime Chattanooga resident, declares it is time to "end corruption [and] take back our city," echoing his past political sentiments.

Dahl ran to represent Alton Park, East Chattanooga and the rest of District 4 on the Hamilton County Commission in 2017, but lost to Democrat Warren Mackey.

Since then, he has become actively engaged with and frequently addresses both the Chattanooga City Council and the commission during public meetings, where he tends to talk about law enforcement, transparency and other government issues.

These experiences have led him to seek the mayor's office.

"It seems like if you speak out [the elected officials] try to stonewall you," Dahl said. " but I've had a bunch of people see my platform that way and here lately I had a couple people approached me and asked me if I could run for mayor."

If he wins, Dahl said, infrastructure and public works improvements are his top priority.

"The main issue to me is infrastructure, not just sewer issues which they're starting to finally address after they were supposed to have been addressing it the whole time Berke's been in office," Dahl said, noting that creating a more robust public works department could also add public sector jobs.

Dahl is the fifth person — along with City Councilman Russell Gilbert and local businessmen Andrew McLaren, Monty Bruell and Tim Kelly — to officially enter the race to take current Mayor Andy Berke's seat, which will be vacated in 2021 after he has served eight years in office.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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