published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Andy Berke makes campaign plans for Chattanooga mayor official


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    State Sen. Andy Berke speaks to a crowd at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre while his wife, Monique Prado Berke, background, on Tuesday. Berke announced his mayoral campaign Tuesday.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

KEY DATES

Sept. 21: Day when qualifying petitions for mayoral or City Council campaign can be picked up.

Dec. 20: Deadline for turning in qualifying petitions.

March 5, 2013: Date of city election.

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

Poll
Would you support Andy Berke for mayor of Chattanooga?

State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Tenn., said there was a moment Tuesday morning when he had to take a breath before taking the podium inside the Chattanooga Theatre Centre.

"This is a big moment for me," Berke said afterward. "This is a big moment for my family."

Berke announced he will run for Chattanooga mayor in the March 2013 election. Standing in front of a cheering crowd of almost 150 people packed inside the center, he said he wanted to "build bridges."

"We have an opportunity to come together anew," Berke told the crowd.

Berke is the first person to announce publicly intentions of running for mayor.

Other names floated for the city's top job include City Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd; Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey; Roger Tuder, executive director of Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee; Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield leader Jim Folkner; longtime city employee Guy Satterfield; and former mayoral candidate Rob Healy.

Todd Womack, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's chief of staff, announced Monday he would not seek the seat. Kim White, executive director of River City Co., also has said she would not seek it, and businessman Greg Vital dropped out of consideration and is running for Berke's old seat.

Berke has been a state senator for five years, replacing former Democratic state Sen. Ward Crutchfield, who was convicted in the Tennessee Waltz sting.

Berke has started campaigning. On Monday, he went to a Unity Group meeting and asked for support. On Tuesday he went to Chattanooga State Community College and had a question-and-answer session about education and jobs.

During his nine-minute speech at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, he dodged questions on annexation and metropolitan government.

"Over the next few months, we are going to have a discussion about what's best for the city," he responded.

Instead, he spent the majority of his time talking about bringing the people of Chattanooga together.

"We're better together than apart," he told the crowd at the Theatre Centre. "We're better united than divided."

Members of Berke's staff said over the next few months he would begin fundraising and a timeline is being set on when the campaign would kick off officially.

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