Mayoral candidate Andy Berke told the Brainerd Kiwanis Club on Friday, "We will reduce crime in our city."
He said everywhere he campaigns he hears tales of residents who have had their car broken into, seen new graffiti down the street, or have a problem house in the neighborhood.
Mr. Berke said, "Our crime rate is too high. We have way too much crime."
He said it is not only violent crime, "but property crime" affecting many Chattanoogans.
The candidate said the consequences for those caught committing crime "should be immediate and severe.
He said there needs to be an overall approach to crime, including steps taken by the Gang Task Force.
Mr. Berke, who is an attorney and former state senator, said, "The police department must have the tools to do their jobs and have complete support of the mayor."
He said his administration will set goals for crime reduction.
On another topic, he said he is "incredibly excited" about a number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses in Chattanooga."
He said, "We need to make sure it reaches all segments of our community."
He stated, "We will support business in every way we can."
Mr. Berke said the city faces some budgetary challenges, including having to deal with a $250 million EPA consent decree on sewage handling.
He said, "Our budgeting will be based on outcomes. If a program doesn't work, let's cut it."
On city-county cooperation, he said, "Let's find ways to work together to help peoples' lives. We can disagree without having bickering and pettiness."
Mr. Berke said while he was in the Legislature, every morning he would make the rounds of the chamber and shake everyone's hand.
On metro government, he said his first focus will be Chattanooga. He said he is open to ways to bring efficiency to government.
On annexation, he gave a similar answer - not ruling it out, but saying his aim will be meeting the current residents' needs.
Asked about whether the city should continue to own the Chattanoogan hotel, he said, "We will take stock of our assets and liaibilities."