Chattanooga mayoral candidates disagree on city issues during first debate
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Chattanooga's Mayor and those hoping to beat him in re-election debated some of the biggest issues facing the city Friday night.
Mayor Andy Berke, City Councilman Larry Grohn, David Crockett and Chris Long took part in the discussion hosted by the UTC College Republicans and Democrats. All of the questions came from current students and members in the audience.
Each candidate talked about his vision, and how he would improve Chattanooga.
"We've got to have development, diversity. I want opportunity for everybody. everybody's important to me," said candidate Chris Long.
Candidates talked hopes and challenges with affordable housing, homelessness, and crime.
"I am running because i want to stop the incredible slaughter and maiming of our young people in this city," said candidate Larry Grohn.
Each candidate discussed their own way to combat crime, Mayor Berke said many of the recent announcements including a real-time intelligence center and adding more police officers will help.
"Our violent crime is down but we have this persistent gun violence. we have to do something about guns, we've seen this not just in Chattanooga but around our country," Berke said.
Mayor Berke focused on his hope for the future saying, "I'm more optimistic than ever about what we can do and I think that gives me the confidence over the next four years we'll make even more progress."
While other candidates criticized his administration.
"He has a failed Violence Reduction initiative, a failed affordable housing program, a failed workforce development program," Larry Grohn said.
"This is by far the worst administration in this city's history and in most organizations in Chattanooga, the mayor would have been removed," said David Crockett.
In one month it's up to voters to choose the city's next leader.
"I will put people to work and I will get people on the opportunity track, and we will look forward," Crockett said.
"I am so happy to hear what I'm hearing tonight, the reason why, is we're talking about issues we haven't talked about before," said Chris Long.
The candidates will meet again February 20th for a forum at Eastgate Town Center.