February 28, 2013

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The Pulse has declined to endorse candidates for local office in the past, but this year we decided to renew our activism, not with endorsements but with recommendations. Because we did not invite each candidate to full interview sessions, our recommendations are based on our own impressions and those culled from other news organizations and candidate forums, as well as the opinions of our youthful interns.


  • Andy Berke While we are frustrated by his lack of a specific agenda (an accusation the candidate denies, but continues to paint in only broad strokes, as the TFP put it), Berke is the best bet to lead Chattanooga after the divisive years of the Littlefield administration and refocus the city’s trajectory. The alternatives are simply that, each lacking Berke’s vision, résumé, experience and wide support. We do note our disappointment that no truly viable candidate chose to challenge Berke, but that point is moot. We were excited by Berke’s entry, but that excitement dwindled when no real opposition emerged. Consider us cautious optimists.

District 1

  • Chip Henderson Frankly, none of the candidates moved us, but Henderson at least seems engaged and, along with Hagan, the least consumed by a political or personal agenda.

District 2

  • Jerry Mitchell The only real choice. Mitchell is a veteran of the Kinsey and Corker administrations and possesses vision with a focus on transparency.

District 3

  • Pam Ladd While we were attracted to the youthful challenger Ken Smith, Ladd offers a better path for Hixson. Her views are in line with ours concerning the arts and we support her reelection.

District 4

  • Tom Tomisek Again, we are attracted to youthful challengers such as Ryan King, but Tomisek, like Henderson, seems least consumed with politics and agendas. It’s time for Jack Benson to step aside. Tomisek can be a strong advocate for District 4.

District 5

  • Russell Gilbert Sadly, running unopposed. Gilbert would not even supply us with his age.

District 6

  • Carol Berz Running unopposed, we like Berz but she’s hard to reach.

District 7

  • Chris Anderson Young, energetic and fresh. District 7 needs all of these traits. We hesitate to highlight that he’s gay, but that’s a first for Chattanooga.

District 8

  • Moses Freeman At 74, Freeman is the second-oldest candidate behind Benson, but he has much to offer in experience, vision and direction. We appreciate Andraé McGary’s zeal, but his talents are often overshadowed by his personal and political agendas.

District 9

  • Peter Murphy No contest here. Incumbent Murphy ticks all our boxes for an effective, engaged council member.

Candidates by the numbers

  • Candidates: 27
  • Incumbents: 7
  • Candidates running unopposed: 2 — Russell Gilbert (District 5), Carol Berz (District 6)
  • Longest serving council member/candidate: Jack Benson (District 4), since 2001
  • Highest paid council member: Pam Ladd (District 3), current council chair
  • Male candidates: 24 (3 for mayor, 21 for council)
  • Female candidates: 3
  • Current council gender makeup: 5 men, 4 women
  • White candidates: 16
  • Black candidates: 4
  • Hispanic candidates: 1
  • Current council racial makeup: 6 Whites, 2 Blacks, 1 Hispanic
  • Openly gay candidates: 1
  • Youngest candidates: Andraé McGary, Chris Anderson — 32
  • Oldest candidate: Jack Benson — 83
  • Highest Intern Ranking: Jerry Mitchell (District 2)
  • Lowest Intern Ranking: Scott McColpin (District 4)

Show me the money

Salaries for Chattanooga mayor and city council vs. county mayor and commission. Unless you’re the mayor, or are independently wealthy or retired, you need a full-time job to be a council person.

  • Mayor: $151,006
  • County Mayor: $151,006
  • Council Chair:  $27,651
  • Commission Chair: $27,913
  • Council Vice Chair: $25,151    
  • Commission Vice Chair: $24,639
  • Council member: $22,651    
  • County Commissioner: $21,368

February 28, 2013

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