Mayors, Former Mayors Say Best Is Yet To Come For Chattanooga

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
Moderator Rob Bradham of the Chamber of Commerce, Claude Ramsey, Jon Kinsey, Jim Coppinger and Andy Berke
Moderator Rob Bradham of the Chamber of Commerce, Claude Ramsey, Jon Kinsey, Jim Coppinger and Andy Berke
- photo by Hollie Webb

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said to the Rotary Club Thursday afternoon, "All of our success for the most part has come as a result of public and private partnerships that we have in this community."

He spoke as part of a panel along with current Mayor Andy Berke as well as their predecessors, Claude Ramsey and Jon Kinsey.

All were asked to describe their successes while in office, as well as their biggest challenges.

 Mayor Berke said one of the most difficult things he has faced has been dealing with violence.

 He said, "When I first started, I asked the police chief to contact me every time a shot was fired in the city. I felt personally responsible."

 He continued, "This year, our shootings are down 15 percent what they were last year. Obviously, that's still not enough but we're making progress."

 County Mayor Coppinger said during his time in office, the size of the government has been reduced without a tax increase. However, he said during this reduction, 59 positions were cut and 36 people lost their jobs.

 He said nothing was more difficult than giving this news to "a room of 36 people that did absolutely nothing wrong."

 Former County Mayor Claude Ramsey also said that dealing with crime was challenging. He said, "Everybody wants everybody locked up who commits a crime but nobody wants to pay for it."

 He said most people do not understand the costs of the judicial system. He said, "The result of dealing with that crime is a huge, huge number."

 The panel was also asked about how they start and end each day.

 Mayor Berke said, "We talk about what the challenges were yesterday and what we have the opportunity to do today." Mayor Coppinger said he prayed every night to have peace about the decisions he makes every day.

 As for the future of Chattanooga, former Mayor Kinsey said, "I think we really are about to take off again...I really think the stage is set again to see great progress. I think the future has never been brighter for Chattanooga."

Former County Mayor Ramsey said, "I agree, I think the best is yet to come...That's the way we've had success here, the private sector has led and the government has helped."

 Mayor Berke said, "There's so much energy around here...I really believe we live in the best mid-sized city in the country."


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