published Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Wade Hinton chosen as Chattanooga's city attorney


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Wade Hinton has been nominated as Chattanooga city attorney by Mayor Andy Berke.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A dancing attorney may have waltzed into a new position as Chattanooga's city attorney.

Wade Hinton, attorney for the Volkswagen Group of America, was named Friday morning during a joint news conference as the top candidate for the position.

Mayor Andy Berke and City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said Hinton is their choice. He could be confirmed at the council's Tuesday meeting.

"I love my hometown, and I'm proud to serve my community," Hinton said at the news conference.

"He is intelligent, hardworking and has proven himself to be an outstanding attorney and leader," Berke said. "This city has made the right choice, and we're lucky to have him."

Hinton will succeed Mike McMahan, who was not retained by the Berke administration. McMahan served as city attorney for four years after taking over when Randy Nelson retired.

Hinton has worked as counsel for VW and also worked at the law firm Miller & Martin for years.

He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Emory University and went to law school at the University of Memphis.

Hinton, who grew up on Chattanooga's Westside, also is known for his community involvement.

He took part in Chattanooga's Dancing With the Stars to help raise money for the Partnership for Children, Family and Adults. He's served on boards for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, CreateHere and Stand.

He's been a president of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga Young Professionals Association.

Hinton admits he has more limited experience in municipal government than the previous two city attorneys, who both had more than 30 years experience in city government.

"I'm not going to say I'm a municipal expert," Hinton said.

But he said he was no expert in the car industry, either, when he took the attorney position at VW four years ago.

Hakeem said during the news conference that he has known Hinton for years and knew the attorney would be a good choice for the office.

"He could have been in any law firm across the country, but he didn't," Hakeem said. "He chose to serve the city."

Hinton has some experience in government. From 2001 to 2009, he worked as a consultant for former Mayor Claude Ramsey on civil rights issues within county government.

"He has excellent leadership skills and the necessary experience working with county and city governments," Ramsey said in a statement. "Wade will be a true asset to the city of Chattanooga."

Asked whether he'll make changes in the office, Hinton said it was too early to tell. Right now, he said, he plans to rely on the experience of others.

"I will listen," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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