Monty Bruell publicly gave his support to the Tim Kelly campaign on Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the mayor race. Mr. Kelly will participate in a runoff election against Kim White after he finished with 8,562 votes and Ms. White ended the night with 8,289.
Mr. Bruell was fourth behind Wade Hinton with 2,407 votes.
Standing with Mr. Kelly on the front steps of the Kelly campaign headquarters on Lindsay Street, Mr. Bruell said that even though his campaign is over, he will not stop in his mission to make Chattanooga a thriving city for all of its inhabitants.
“As I said to our team last night, this was never just about Monty Bruell becoming mayor of Chattanooga forward, and moving Chattanooga forward in a way that helps all people,” Mr. Bruell said. “We have left too many people behind, and it is time for us to put real plans in place.
“Last night, we had 15 people in this race, and today we have two. When I look at the choice between Kim White and Tim Kelly, that choice is very clear to me. People asked if I needed to take a week to think about it, but the future of Chattanooga is too precious and I didn’t need any time at all (to make a choice).”
Mr. Bruell said he would do “everything in my power” to ensure that Tim Kelly would be the next mayor of Chattanooga.
Mr. Kelly said he and Mr. Bruell became acquainted over the course of their respective campaigns, and he said his “regard and respect for Monty went through the roof.”
“He is the one who inspired me, and reminded me that we are doing this for the future of all Chattanoogans,” Mr. Kelly said. “Had this situation been reversed, I would be supporting Monty, so we really look forward to moving Chattanooga forward with policies that work for everybody for one Chattanooga.”
Mr. Bruell said that there has been some talk of Mr. Kelly having him on a transition team if Mr. Kelly were to win, but both said there have been no “real conversations” about it. Mr. Bruell said he will look into it next week, and Mr. Kelly said both are still trying to “get their bearings” after last night. Mr. Kelly said he will not shift his campaign strategy for the runoff election on April 13.
“I am who I am,” Mr. Kelly said. “I’m not a politician, in the sense that I’m not seeking political office. When I started running, I ran on the slogan of ‘My Party is Chattanooga’ and I’m a localist. My policies and platforms are based on what is best for the city of Chattanooga. I don’t see that changing.”
Mr. Kelly briefly addressed the mis-identification of a campaign worker as someone who was stealing signs. He said, “It was a silly mistake, and we didn’t know who the fellow was, but we did figure it out. We did have signs stolen, unfortunately, but it wasn’t him.”
These are the comments Tim Kelly made on election night:
When I began this campaign, I knew it wasn’t going to be normal. Never having run for anything before, I had nothing to compare it to, but one thing I was sure of was that because of the COVID pandemic, it was going to be tough. And I was prepared for that. I love a challenge. And I was not disappointed in the enormity of that challenge. And we’re not out of the woods yet, by any stretch of the imagination. Our next mayor will be tasked with guiding our city out of this pandemic, ensuring that all of our neighbors have access to the vaccines we need to get back to normal, and jumpstarting a recovery to build back our local economy.
The stakes are high. Throughout this campaign, I’ve heard from so many families across our city that have lost dear friends, family, and loved ones. They are deeply missed. I’m going to ask that we pause for a moment of silence to honor their memories.
I know that we have what it takes to get through this and come out of it an even stronger city. And that’s what we’re focused on doing here tonight. I want to start off by recognizing some dedicated Chattanoogans who I know believe the same thing:
I’ve learned that one of the pleasures of running for public office is getting to know a lot of interesting people along the way, particularly people who share my passion for this city. Andrew McLaren, Chris Long, Dr. Woods, George Ryan Love, Councilman Oglesby, Chris Dahl, D’Angelo Davis, Robert Wilson, Lon Cartwright, and Monty Bell—they did the hard work of showing up and sharing their vision for the city, and during a pandemic no less. While we might’ve disagreed on an issue or two here or there, we shared a common passion for Chattanooga that made this race feel constructive rather than divisive and for that I hold a tremendous amount of respect for each of them. And though those Zoom forums got tortuously long at times with this huge field, I can honestly say that I learned something helpful from every single one of them.
And there are more to thank, of course. Few people can say they’ve served a community for as long and as well as Councilman Russell Gilbert. Russell got things done for the neighborhoods he represented and anyone who needs a model of what localism in action looks like just needs to look at his service on our City Council.
And Wade Hinton… what a class act. I have had the privilege of knowing Wade for quite a few years now, as a colleague in board service, and as a friend, and he is without a doubt one of our city’s brightest and most impressive public servants. But it was through this campaign, sitting alongside him at events and sharing the box next to him on quite a few Zooms, that I had the opportunity to really see his passion for our city in action. Wade campaigned tirelessly for a vision of Chattanooga where everyone has a shot at opportunity, and I know that our city is stronger because of him and his efforts
And finally, someone who I’ve known for years but who I have grown to call a good friend, Monty Bruell. Monty ran a truly extraordinary campaign rooted in the community and grounded in the conviction that our city can’t afford to leave anyone behind. He ran on a vision that reflected the abundance of optimism that he has for our city. Monty’s campaign punched way above its weight, and Monty himself was the undefeated rhetorical champion of all our forums. His narratives were inspiring to so many Chattanoogans, and I can honestly say I was among them. During the most exhausting spells of this campaign, it was often Monty’s words that lifted me up and reassured me we were fighting for something worthwhile: the soul, and the spirit, and the FUTURE of this great city.
Chattanooga’s greatest asset is its PEOPLE. We are blessed with an abundance of community leaders willing to step up and put in the work to make our city the best it can be. And we need that spirit and that commitment more than ever.
Folks, for nearly a year, we’ve been on a journey to bring Chattanoogans together. Thanks to each of you, we’ve achieved some incredible things:
We knocked on over 12,000 doors and called over 40,000 people about the future of Chattanooga
Our campaign showed it was possible to run on bold ideas with a real plan to put them into action;
We brought together Republicans, Democrats, and independents to solve problems together, something politicians in Washington would tell you is impossible but here in Chattanooga we know it’s the right way to get things done.
And finally, we did all of this with optimism and hope for our common future in Chattanooga, rather than cynicism and divisive negativity that has infected our national politics
We have a lot to be proud of, and let me tell you I feel really good about where we’re headed. We are going to win this campaign. But tonight, we know we are not quite over the finish line yet. We’re headed to a runoff election, or in other words, we’re going to overtime. And I know from my long experience in the sports world that teams win in extra time ONLY when they stay together, stay focused, and rise to the new challenge as one.
And so in the final weeks of this campaign, we are going to be laser focused on talking to Chattanoogans about our vision and plan to lead on day one. And at the same time, our team will be preparing to govern.
But we cannot do this without your help. Over the next six weeks, we need to reach out to every single voter who showed up to the polls - and the ones who might’ve forgotten - and remind them that they’ve got one more ballot to cast. I am confident that if we stay organized and focused, we’ll close this thing out with a win on April 13th.
Thank you all for what you’ve already done. To my staff, you’ve made this possible and now you’re stuck with me for another six weeks—or four years. To Ginny, I couldn’t do it without you. To my friends and family, I can’t express enough how much your support means to me.
This campaign was built on the premise that Chattanooga can come together as one to take on our biggest challenges. It was a big bet that we could overcome partisanship and divisiveness in service of a different kind of politics. Tonight’s results show us that it is absolutely possible.
Time to get to work to finish this job, and secure Chattanooga’s future as the greatest city in America- one that works for all Chattanoogans. Thank you!