published Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Andy Berke is Chattanooga's new mayor (with video)


by Cliff Hightower
Newly elected mayor of Chattanooga Andy Berke gives a speech to his supporters Tuesday at the Waterhouse Pavillion in Miller Plaza.
Newly elected mayor of Chattanooga Andy Berke gives a speech to his supporters Tuesday at the Waterhouse Pavillion in Miller Plaza.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
  • Andy Berke wins race for Chattanooga mayor
    Former state Sen. Andy Berke garnered more than 72 percent of the vote to become the mayor of Chattanooga. Berke, who received 12,906 votes, will take office April 15.
CHARTER CHANGE

The majority of Chattanoogans supported changing archaic language in the city’s charter. The public voted 78 percent to 21.8 percent to change the language. Some of the language in the charter included how to form a city band and how workhouses should be operated.

View a related story: 3 voted off Chattanooga City Council

Former state Sen. Andy Berke now has a new title to add to his resume — mayor of Chattanooga.

The two-term state senator won overwhelmingly Tuesday in Chattanooga municipal elections, beating opponents Robert Chester Heathington Jr. and Guy Satterfield.

“The time for renewal is now,” Berke told a cheering crowd of more than 200 people in the Waterhouse Pavilion at Miller Plaza.

Voter turnout was anemic, at just 16 percent, Hamilton County Election Commission records show. Of the 111,324 registered voters in the city, 18,194 ballots were cast.

Berke won 72 percent of the vote. Satterfield received 24 percent and Heathington recorded 3.7 percent of the vote. All vote totals are unofficial until provisional ballots are counted.

Once in office, Berke will make $146,607 annually and will serve a four-year term. He will oversee a $210 million budget to serve a city of 170,000 people.

Berke announced last May that he would run for the city’s top elected seat. Since that time, he raised more than $670,000, the most for a mayoral candidate in Chattanooga history.

Satterfield spent $1,800 of his own money on the campaign, while Heathington has not turned in financial disclosures.

Berke, along with a new City Council, will be sworn in April 15.

Satterfield said Tuesday night that he was fine with the race results. It was just a dream to run.

“That’s what makes this country great,” he said. “We get to pick our own leaders. Now it’s time to get behind Andy.”

Heathington also wished the best for Berke and said he hoped the mayor-elect has good plans for safe neighborhoods.

“Obviously, the people have spoken,” he said. “I’m happy with it. I’m living the American way.”

Berke spoke to the crowd of his supporters for about 10 minutes, citing examples of why crime, education and entrepreneurship need to be a priority.

He thanked his volunteers, campaign staff and wife, Monique.

“I stand here for and because of the people of Chattanooga,” he said.

Afterward, Berke said he will outline a public input process on how he would choose staff for his administration. He said he also will reach out to councilmen-elect members about his plans.

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