I was born and raised in Chattanooga. For 25 years, I have both lived and owned a small business in District 2. There is no doubt that this is my home and I want the best for it. But Chattanooga has come along way in that quarter of a century. When I was a young adult, Chattanooga was a place to quickly abandon. The length of Frazier Avenue was boarded up and the only shopping downtown were the pawnshops on Market Street. So I moved to Charlotte, N.C., looking for a brighter future.
But as soon as I arrived in Charlotte, a funny thing happened. I got calls from friends back home saying "You won't believe what's happening here. They're building a new Aquarium. Tourism is taking off. Stores, and restaurants are coming." After a couple of years of hearing this, I left Charlotte and came home. I moved back to District 2, where I've been ever since. I opened a small business which flourished. And the changes kept coming. Things kept getting better. The Northshore grew. Chattanooga grew.
All of this didn't just happen. It happened because some passionate and dedicated people with vision worked to make it happen. They didn't sit back on their hands while the world changed and the old foundries and mills and their jobs withered away. Instead, they had a vision of what could be. Because of that vision, small businesses grew. Tourists arrived. Volkswagen moved to town. UTC got the SimCenter and EPB built the fastest Internet in the country. Right here, in the town that people once moved away from. We used to make the national news for race problems and pollution. Now we're on the news for a blossoming innovation culture that Atlanta can only dream of. Now, there are new tech jobs, and more coming. Jobs that we never even dreamed of existing here before.
As we head into the local elections on March 5, let's all remember how far we've come as a city And let's elect leaders who will continue to lead us towards a bright and limitless future. I believe Andy Berke is that kind of leader for our city and Jerry Mitchell is that kind of leader for my home of District 2. Both Berke and Mitchell possess the vision and the passion to carry us further, to ensure our city grows better and smarter and full of possibilities.