Every day in the General Assembly, Andy Berke worked to improve public education – because it is the most important investment that we can make for our future prosperity and because every child has a right to an excellent education. That’s why Andy was a leader in efforts to raise standards and improve performance in our schools. That’s why he fought to hold our colleges and universities accountable for results and to make them more affordable for Tennessee families. And that’s why he passed the first law in our state to begin to track how parents and schools work together.
While Chattanooga is known as Gig City, we know that not all residents are reaping the benefits of our super high-speed fiber optic infrastructure. Over the last three years, Andy has worked hard to ensure digital equity through nationally recognized initiatives like Tech Goes Home, a free course designed to help residents develop skills and habits required for smart technology and Internet use, as well as the launch of NetBridge, a partnership with EPB and Hamilton County Department of Education to offer 100 Mbps for $27/month to families with public school students on free or reduced lunch. His diligent focus on digital equity will provide more of our citizens with the access and resources necessary to be successful in the 21st Century.
Growing the economy means investing in small businesses, ensuring citizens have the skills to compete, and strengthening infrastructure to support business recruitment, retention, and expansion. In the State Senate, Andy Berke worked to move unemployed workers off of the unemployment rolls and onto the work rolls. That’s why, with the support of Democrats and Republicans, Andy worked with Governor Haslam to pass the Tennessee Works program into law. During his first term as Mayor, Andy built on our Chattanooga's great entrepreneurial spirit -- establishing the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city -- while continuing to attract companies from across the world like Plastic Omnium, Gestamp, and VW. And through incentives like the Growing Small Businesses (GSB) incentive, Andy has worked to grow businesses made right here in Chattanooga.
Safety is a prerequisite for the success of any community. That’s why Andy has relentlessly focused on making streets safer for all. From his first days in Nashville, he worked to stop offenders from repeating their mistakes when they return to our community. He fought to increase funding for programs designed to help law enforcement and community organizations work together to reduce shootings, punish violent offenders and create opportunities for young people who want to avoid the criminal path.
Tax dollars are our investment in the community, and it is incumbent on the stewards of government to make sure they are spent wisely. For five consecutive years, Andy voted for balanced budgets. He led the effort to hold private education contractors receiving millions in government funding accountable for their results and his EFFECTS bill required state government to focus on what state government was getting for taxpayer dollars.
During his first week as Mayor, Andy restructured City government to reflect the priorities of Chattanoogans. Since then, the City of Chattanooga has strived each day to operate a high-performing government by embracing Budgeting for Outcomes, ensuring the long-term financial health of the City through successfully reforming an underfunded pension, using each dollar effectively, and providing excellent customer service. And Andy has worked diligently to ensure the City provides the very best service at the very best value to citizens - all without a single tax increase.
Technology has created unprecedented opportunities for government to collect data and to report information publicly. Through implementation of several open data initiatives, including signing the City's first Open Data Policy, launching a user-friendly open data portal, and making open records requests easy to file through a online platform, Andy has worked to ensure public information is more easily accessible online and through citizen requests.
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