Note: This story was updated at 9:50 a.m. on April 16 to correct the length of Councilman Ken Smith's tenure in office.
As the city welcomes a new mayoral administration, a third of the Chattanooga City Council will also be replaced Monday with newly elected representatives, ushering in a new era of city government.
Three of the city's nine districts will have new council members, with the election of newcomers Jenny Hill for District 2, Isiah Hester of District 5 and Raquetta Dotley of District 7.
With the addition of Hill and Hester, who were elected in Tuesday's runoff election, returning and new council members had a chance to meet briefly this week. They are set to be inaugurated on Monday and serve in their first council meetings on Tuesday.
"We met last night when we had our council photos taken, and I'm really excited about the new council. I think it's a great diverse makeup, and I'm going to have fun working with them," said Carol Berz, the fourth-term councilwoman for District 6, now the council's senior member.
"Some of our goals for the next year are pay equity, minimum wage and a lot of other things, and now's the time to begin working toward them," Berz said, noting that committee appointments and chairperson elections will likely come in the next few weeks as the new administration and council settle into office. "The one thing I'm sure of is, these are all terrific people, but everything is kind of in flux until the mayor decides how he's going to do stuff."
And the council's newest members are ready to hit the ground running.
"I am feeling really confident. I had six weeks to get familiar with the current council members, as well as departments in the city. So I am really confident going into Monday and Tuesday," Dotley said Thursday.
Dotley, a community activist elected to replace one-term Councilman Erskine Oglesby, who vacated the council seat to run for mayor, said she is ready to represent the people of District 7.
"Budget season is upon us. So I'll be, like the other council members, reviewing the budget to make sure they align with the people's priorities," Dotley said. "I'll also be following up about paving, to see where we are with that and what that looks like for District 7. And then also, on the community level, I'll be forming the District 7 Council with representatives from each neighborhood."
Hester and Hill, who only get a matter of days to prepare to take office, are also excited to get started serving their respective communities.
"When I found out for sure, I felt peaceful and happy. And now, I'm so excited to get to work for the people of District 2 and be our voice on the council. It's a tremendous honor," Councilwoman-elect Hill said on Thursday, noting her excitement to address the upcoming city budget, ongoing changes to steep slope development regulations and establishing a community newsletter.
"We've got a lot of new energy and new ideas on council and the new administration, and I'm excited to get to work on making Chattanooga an even better place to live," Hill said.
Hill, a mother, business owner and member of the Hamilton County Board of Education, was elected in the runoff to replace retiring Councilman Jerry Mitchell.
Hester, a minister and entrepreneur, was also elected Tuesday after fighting off four other opponents in the city's most crowded race to replace outgoing three-term Councilman Russell Gilbert, who vacated his seat to run for mayor.
And he says he's excited to work in the new era of city government to represent his community.
"This campaign was always about the people of the District 5 community, and I want to thank everyone who showed up to the polls and put their trust in me to be your representative," Hester said late Tuesday. "It's time for leadership that serves everyone, and I'm looking forward to working with Mayor-Elect Tim Kelly to make true progress for all in our city."
The nine city council members and Kelly will be inaugurated Monday morning to serve four-year terms.
Here's the full list of council members:
District 1 (Hixson, Lookout Valley, Mountain Creek)
Councilman Chip Henderson will return for a third term.
District 2 (North Chattanooga, Lupton City, Northgate)
Councilwoman-elect Jenny Hill will join the council for her first term.
District 3 (Hixson, Dupont, Murray Hills)
Councilman Ken Smith will return for a third term.
District 4 (Concord, East Brainerd)
Councilman Darrin Ledford will return for a second term.
District 5 (Bonny Oaks, Eastgate, Woodmore)
Councilman-elect Isiah Hester will join the council for his first term.
District 6 (Airport, Brainerd, Ooltewah)
Councilwoman Carol Berz will return for a fourth term.
District 7 (Downtown, St. Elmo, Alton Park)
Councilwoman-elect Raquetta Dotley will join the council for her first term.
District 8 (Avondale, Bushtown, Eastside)
Councilman Anthony Byrd will return for a second term.
District 9 (East Chattanooga, Glenwood, Missionary Ridge)
Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod will return for a second term.