How Are We Going To Move Forward If We Are Stuck In The Past?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Andy Berke, presumably the mayor to be, has shaped his campaign along the theme “Renew Chattanooga;” an effort, it appears, that aims at breaking away from the past four years of Chattanooga history which has become marred by the cronyism and the vindictiveness that has characterized the Littlefield administration. Under Berkian leadership, we are led to believe, this cronyism would be replaced by a transparent and effective government that seeks to solve Chattanooga’s most plaguing problems not from the standpoint of the privileged few but from the vantage point of the everyday person’s boots on the ground. 

It is refreshing then that Berke seems to practice what he preaches on the campaign trail . A quick glance at the campaign staff reveals faces of various hues, of both sexes, and all notably 40ish or under. Taking cues from President Kennedy some 40 years ago and President Obama of recent years, the Berke administration seeks to be characterized by youthful vigor and a call for all citizens, and particularly young people, to commit themselves anew to the vision of making our city “the best mid-size city in America.” It is notable, then, that Berke would be one of the youngest mayors in Chattanooga history, some 23 years younger than the current mayor; interestingly akin to Kennedy and Obama who both also assumed executive office in their early 40’s.

All of this raises a couple of quick points: 1.) When most people think of local government they think of the mayor as the pivotal figure around which all decisions derive; and 2.) People expect the Council to take their cues from the mayor, but not be beholden to him; which is much like a awkward song and dance where you are not always sure who is doing the leading and who is following.  All of which leads to the pressing question, especially since we know so little about what Berke will actually do once elected: is what sort of Council will be elected in 2013? How do we honestly expect a Berke Administration to properly carry out its plans if there is a Council that does not share his ideas of movement and renewal? There are only two responses: either a.) the Council will fight him at every turn, or b.) they will give in to him at every turn. 

Either response in my opinion is unacceptable. (I know there are some who think otherwise; however, experience teaches me that neither is preferred if the sole task is to get something done. Even those on the extreme of both sides of any issue can agree, if on nothing else, that  they do not want to see taxpayer dollars wasted in a sea of political inactivity. Think Washington.)

Let’s take District 8, the seat that I have had the privilege and the honor to serve in for the last four years. Throughout my tenure as Councilman, I have heard people say that “its good to have a young person in this seat. It’s time for this generation to assume leadership,” and “We need new ideas, fresh blood. It’s good you are on Council,” or even, “It’s a shame that we have an administration that is not as forward thinking as it could be. It would be great to have younger person in leadership in the mayor’s office.”

In light of these comments, I find it quite ironic that I, the youngest person elected in the history of City Council, am running against one of the oldest in the history of candidates for City Council. But age here is not the most pressing issue. Perspective is. If there is a clear distinction between us it is that Mr. Freeman speaks from a certain generation as I do from mine. I ask the question: which of the two is best able to fulfill the vision of “renewing Chattanooga?” 

It is apparent that what is in focus here is the perception of our more senior generation in relation to younger people in leadership, particularly black Chattanoogans. And it is hurtful to our community at large to encourage young leadership one minute and to decry it as invalid for no other reason but expediency’s sake under the guise of “experience” (and most especially during political election cycles). It is important that we acknowledge that certain leaders brought value to their day and new leaders should be given the same opportunity to bring value to theirs. I do not doubt in the slightest that Freeman was a leader in the 1960s. What’s in question is whether he is truly a leader for 2013 and next decade.

Andrae McGary 



Families In Public Schools Fight Common Core, But Won't Get Out

The alarm among Christians who patronize government-run schools has a clear cause. Common Core, the name of the latest spate of reform, promises further control by Washington. What are moms and dads to make of the opposition to Common Core, particularly if they are Christian or home educators? How worked up should we get?  We’ll let Tony Perkins of a Washington G Street ... (click for more)

Questions About Bus Stops

The attack of the young man at a bus stop brings to mind something that I have been wondering for some time now.  Why do we have bus stops all over town that are often just a sign on the side of the road, no pull off area, no shelter and often no sidewalk?   I have also noticed that on Brainerd Road there will often be a stop at almost every block or street, so it seems, ... (click for more)

Boy, 16, To Face Murder Charges In Criminal Court On Triple Lookout Valley Slayings

A Lookout Valley youth who was 15 at the time of his alleged involvement in a massacre in the valley will stand trial as an adult. Jacob Allison, who is now 16, was taken by the sheriff's office to the Hamilton County Jail after a transfer hearing in Juvenile Court on Friday morning. Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw said under state law he has jurisdiction over rehabilitation ... (click for more)

Justin Wilkins Selected As Deputy Chief Of Staff For Mayor Berke

Native Chattanoogan Justin Wilkins will serve as Mayor Andy Berke's deputy chief of staff, it was announced Friday. Mr. Wilkins has spent the last several years serving as the Tennessee state director for multiple advocacy and electoral organizations, including Organizing for America and Organizing for Action. Prior to that, he worked as project manager at Profit Plans LLC ... (click for more)

Notre Dame's Kareem Orr Looking For Big Results

(This is the 16th in a series of preseason stories on new high school football coaches, or veteran coaches at a different school, and top players in the Chattanooga area) Notre Dame’s football team has won 18 games in the first two years of Charles Fant’s time as the Fighting Irish head coach. The Signal Mountain Eagles have beaten Notre Dame in both of ... (click for more)

McCallie's 97-Yard Drive Proof Of Dominant 44-0 Win In Opener

With the game in hand, McCallie’s offense unleashed an impressive third-quarter drive that exemplified Cleveland’s inability to handle the Blue Tornado offense Thursday night at Finley Stadium. The Blue Raiders’ only real scoring threat ended at McCallie’s 3 on successive incomplete passes by quarterback Austin Massey to intended receivers Eric Goodwin and Rod Dennard. McCallie ... (click for more)