Chattanooga Mayor Berke challenges city leaders to help improve Chattanooga
"We should be the greatest mid-size city in the South." So said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke Thursday as he spoke to the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary.
Berke urged the business leaders to look forward, and "...take the 'coulds' and 'shoulds' out of our vocabulary."
Facing a growing crime problem in the city, Berke has a major challenge of his own. As mayoral candidate, Berke told the Brainerd Kiwanis Club in January, "We will reduce crime in our city."
Since January, there have been over 60 shootings in Chattanooga, resulting in more than 10 deaths.
After a structural re-organization of the city's departments, Berke now must make good on fixing the very things he found wrong with the city as a candidate.
One of the most recent issues was the fire at Patten Towers, a Section 8 apartment building in downtown Chattanooga.
A fire displaced hundreds of residents, and the Berke administration pushed the building's management company, PK Management, to take action and repair the building.
Four weeks after the fire, residents moved back into the building.
During Thursday's speech, Berke promised to make his new budget public, and renewed his promise to "eliminate any waste in government."
Berke also explained his new two-pronged approach to beginning change in the city; a law enforcement management study and the start of the "High Point Initiative," which Berke expects to be ready in 2014.
High Point, North Carolina had an annual murder rate of 25 people, and is now down to 3, according to the Mayor.
Berke called upon the Rotary members to join him in making the changes to improve the city and make life better for its residents, concluding "This is your city. Now is our time."