ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke / Staff photo by Troy Stolt

There was a terror attack, a tragic school bus wreck, a multi-day water outage, a tornado, civil unrest prompted by police brutality in other cities, a pandemic and two recessions — all in the eight years that Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke held office.

He — and we — remember these trying times well. But we also remember the city's triumph coming through them.

"Our struggles are real, but so are our blessings," Berke told us Thursday in recalling Chattanooga's perseverance story during his final State of the City address.

Along the way through Berke's eight years in office, we've seen:

* Savings that are expected to approach $227 million over 20 years in fire and police pension fund payouts, thanks to Berke's early negotiations with the unions;

* More taxpayer savings — already about $5 million — thanks to his push to lower the city's carbon footprint with a solar power array at the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant and another at Lovell Field's airport;

* A 2017 senior citizen property tax freeze and a 2018 senior citizen water quality bill reimbursement. A revamped Miller Park, a new Youth and Family Development Center in Avondale, the new Southside Park and the refurbished East Lake Park;

* Pandemic help through EPB to provide online services for many lower-income homes where students couldn't learn without that all-important internet while their schools were closed;

* A 64% decrease in gang shootings — down from an average of about 73 a year to an average of 26 in the last three years;

* The creation of 2,000 new affordable housing units;

* An expanded workforce through Chattanooga's Gig City reputation with the creation of the Innovation District for entrepreneurs;

* A "functional zero" level of homeless veterans;

* A Berke-inspired Baby University to provide voluntary case management, mentoring and support for expectant mothers and families;

* At least 1,000 new early learning center "seats" to help children learn the words and social skills necessary for them to be ready learn when they arrive in pre-school, kindergarten and first grade;

* An agreement with Nippon to build a new manufacturing plant at the former Tubman housing project site in East Chattanooga — along with tax incentives to build other neighborhood shops and homes nearby.

That's a not-bad-at-all — in fact, a great — track record.

Chattanooga's next mayor — and there are plenty of candidates — has very big shoes to fill.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT