On the eve of the city election in which Andy Berke is seeking a second term, Bobby Stone released new details about the affair he says he caught the mayor having with his wife, Lacie Stone.
Mayor Berke has denied the charge, and his campaign literature includes pictures of himself with his wife and daughters with a stress on Family Values.
Stone said he first found out about the alleged affair when he caught the mayor and Ms. Stone "in a passionate kiss" in an alleyway very near the Berke home.
He said he then found two texts on Ms. Stone's phone from the mayor. He said one asked if he (Bobby Stone) had been following them.
Mr. Stone said Lacie Stone later admitted that the affair began on a trip with the mayor to New York City.
Mr. Stone said, "I had not planned on making additional statements regarding the events that took place between myself, my wife, Lacie and Mayor Andy Berke. However, now more than ever, I realize the importance of integrity and character in our elected officials. It’s vital to the future progress of Chattanooga that we elect leaders with clear vision and a clear conscience. I feel it’s my duty to set the record straight so that voters can make an informed decision on the quality of leadership in Chattanooga
"On May 2, 2016 at approximately 9:10 p.m., I caught my wife, Lacie, and Mayor Andy Berke, her employer, embracing in a passionate kiss in the alleyway behind Las Margaritas restaurant just 400 yards away from the Berke residence where his wife and two young daughters were.
"I experienced a mixture of shock and betrayal. After all, I had been a supporter of Mayor Berke. A team player. I donated tens of thousands of dollars of film and photography work to his campaign and to the city. Just weeks before the incident I produced a video for the 2016 State of the City Address.
"I looked on Lacie’s phone and there were two WhatsApp messages from 'Andrew' on her phone. The first read, 'Has he been following us?' The second read, 'If he’s going to go public I need to know.' I asked Lacie to leave our home and we spent the next 10 days apart. After the break, we met to discuss our future. She admitted that the affair had started on a taxpayer-funded trip with the mayor to New York City on April 13. We agreed to seek counseling and try to repair our damaged marriage.
"For the next few days, we limped through our marriage trying to heal. On the evening of May 20th, we had Police Chief Fred Fletcher and other friends to our house for dinner. After the guests left, Lacie went to let the dogs out and took an unusually long time. I went to check on her and caught her late night texting the mayor on a new password-protected encrypted messaging app. I demanded to see the phone, and she refused. We wrestled over the phone and eventually I asked her to leave. At no point did I strike, choke or in any way attempt to harm her. Nor did I threaten her with physical violence. My first call was to Fred Fletcher, whose immediate reply was 'I thought he was screwing Stacy.'
"Some may ask why this is important? It’s important because days later, the mayor looked into television cameras and denied having inappropriate relations with my wife. He flatly lied to the people of Chattanooga. He also attempted to paint me as a domestic abuser, which is a disservice to every woman or man who has actually been the victim of domestic abuse.
"Beyond a breach of trust, Berke’s escapades were during a time when our city needed leadership. During the height of their indiscretion, Chattanooga was terrorized by a violent, out of control gang war with a dozen shootings in a single week. It’s clear the Mayor’s focus was not on Chattanooga.
"Most Chattanoogans believe Berke is lying about the affair. Meaning, we do not trust him to tell us the truth. All Chattanoogans can see the Mayor’s leadership is ineffectual.
"Chattanoooga deserves a mayor who will dedicate his or her energy and attention to the needs of the city and not to his personal desires."