Dave Crockett held a press conference Wednesday at the convention and trade center downtown to release a late fund-raising report and to declare himself a head taller than a lanky Andy Berke.
He reports just under F$13,000 in campaign contributions. Mr. Crockett says he is politically “challenged” while able to get people to act upon proposals and ideas that he works to push into the public conscience. The mainstream media in Chattanooga — led by the Times Free Press editorial pages — have endorsed Mr. Berke, who also has won endorsement of unions. Mr. Berke’s fundraising has drawn 32x that of Mr. Crockett, and 17x more more than that of city councilman Larry Grohn.
In a statement, Mr. Crockett rehearses what he says are the main distinctions between him and the one he calls the worst mayor in the city’s history. Many of his political accomplishments were while in office as council member, he says, implying that if he were mayor the accomplishments would be even greater. Mr. Crockett says he gets far in his goals because he mixes and mingles with everyone, whereas Mr. Berke is snobby, unavailable and unwilling to deal individually with large groups of people who help bring plans and “visions” into reality. Mr. Berke and his functionaries have ignored or rebuffed repeated requests for interviews about his plans, policies and ideas. —DJT
By David Crockett / candidate for mayor
When I initiated the expansion of this beautiful convention center, many said it was unnecessary. That we hadn’t paid for the first one and we might not be able to fill it and didn’t know how we could pay for it. The same was said for the entire Southside plan. It was all big talk, pie in the sky. You’re standing in one of the flavors of “Dave’s Pie Store”.
We built it and paid for it and all the other major projects that you can see from here with the proceeds of merging the school system and passing the half cent sales tax. That raised the hundreds of millions of dollars to do all this development plus the acquisition of the Volunteer Site where VW now stands. All of those were said to be impossible.
Dreams. I initiated all of those and helped engineer their passage. That was only a part of my record of city wide accomplishments. While doing those things, I took care of my District 3 constituents by getting Greenway Farm for the public’s use, expanding greenways and the Riverwalk in my district, initiating sewers in the entire district in Hixson and Highway 58, building the Hixson ballfield complex and replacing bridges and paving roads.
Hits Berke for being unavailable
All of that was a great record of achievement, but that is only some of the tangible highlights. The heavy lifts were meeting with every major organization in Chattanooga in the first 90 days I was in office to get their agreement to create and integrated, strategic plan focused on the emerging economic, educational, research and urban revitalizing opportunities driven by a call for changes in transportation, manufacturing, urban development, energy, water and practically every aspect of our lives.
That effort was announced in the local media ninety days after I took office and was completed and adopted by every major organization and government one year after I took office. That was the first strategic plan for the entire city and region with a tight focus. That gave the city an identity nationwide and around the world that brought hundreds of delegations to Chattanooga and ultimately played a significant part in billions of dollars of investment, thousands of jobs and a lot of what we see today.
The point is that from the seat of a councilman I had one of the best records of accomplishment of any local elected officials — council, commissioners, mayors in Hamilton County history and the THE best record on taxes with three tax cuts of 50 cents each.
I did that as a councilman, not a mayor. My fund raising for those three terms and running for mayor was one of the lowest of any elected official ever. The total I have ever raised wouldn’t add up to ONE fundraiser for the current mayor. All my campaigns have been grass-roots. I’m great at raising millions and hundreds of millions for the city, but challenged at asking for money for a campaign.
‘Politically challenged’ but ‘performance gifted’
It’s much more personal. My fund raising this time is more modest than I had hoped, but I never had an expectation that a mayor’s race should cost much more than a hundred thousand dollars. We came nowhere close to that with the pressure of the mayor’s war chest. The summary of all that is that: I am vision and performance gifted and politically challenged.
That is the mirror image of the mayor. He has raised over a million dollars in his bids for mayor, but has a dubious performance resume. I got the entire city to adopt a plan that I sponsored. The mayor has been almost unavailable for the same group. I passed two ballot initiatives that were said to be impossible for the merger of the schools and the half cent sales tax.
He barely comments on major changes like the tax inequity of the city residents paying county taxes and not receiving the same benefits and the unincorporated areas. Although important, the mayor’s baby step programs aren’t transformational. But, give him his due. He is a fundraising machine and politically savvy. He will always do what is best for him and his political career. The mayor is politically gifted and performance challenged.
While I have one of the best records of accomplishment ever. The mayor has set records for money raised for his personal campaigns and handling scandal in the mayor’s office. I bring this up now because this a contest of performance and vision for the future not personal, political fund raising. The voters will choose between vision and performance versus political fundraising.