Tim Kelly was sworn in on Monday morning as the new mayor of Chattanooga.
He said, "The goals for this week are survival. It's a six day transition, so there's going to be a lot on our plate. As I said before, we'll be putting a ballot initiative on the ballot later this year to change this so no city administration has to go through this ever again, because it's not sufficient for a normal transition. I'm going to be getting to work right now hashing through how we do it. We place a high premium on continuity so citizens shouldn't have to worry about that. Our city should continue to function, but now it's down to the nuts and bolts of this transition.
"The city has 2,600 employees, and a large number of that turns over. We've had a number of resignations, many just because it's time for them to move on. So it's a lot. I've done a lot of company acquisitions and mergers, and in some ways it's very similar. We have to get the right people in the right positions to keep the wheels turning and get things moving again. We have a homelessness and housing crisis, and a COVID-19 crisis we have to manage. The political process was never something I enjoyed or relished. This is the part I was looking forward to; getting to work.
"I'm looking to appoint a director of community health for the city, and you can look to expect that possibly later today. The candidate is incredibly well-qualified and that'll be very exciting for us.
"I'm a very simple guy. I still shop at the Food City on 23rd Street and probably always will. This day is great, but it's kind of like a wedding, because at some point you realize it's about everyone else, not so much about you. I'm glad Chattanoogans are enjoying it, and the scene at the library was particularly great, but I'm ready to get to work." Some of his supporters were at the top of the library along with a welcome new mayor sign.
He won a four-year term with a runoff victory over former River City Company director Kim White. During his talk he praised Ms. White for running an issues-oriented campaign.
The event was at 10 a.m. at the Tivoli Theater.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the event was limited to elected officials, their guests, speakers and members of the judiciary who took part as well as the news media.
However, the ceremony was live streamed on Facebook.com/CityofChattanooga.
It will be rebroadcast on WTCI-TV at 11 p.m. today and 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Brent Goldberg, former chief operating officer for outgoing mayor Andy Berke, is expected to take a leading role in the administration.
Ellis Smith, a former reporter for the Times Free Press, will be handling communications.
The Kelly PR campaign was coordinated by Derryberry Public Relations.
Mayor Kelly and entourage walked from the Tivoli to his new office at City Hall on E. 11th Street.