Larry Grohn is a political conservative, a Christian active in Chattanooga tea party events. He is running for mayor. (Photo David Tulis)

Larry Grohn is a political conservative, a Christian active in Chattanooga tea party events. He is running for mayor. (Photo David Tulis)

A conservative member of Chattanooga city council is running for mayor in a field whose contestants are not yet known.

Larry Grohn is an evangelical Christian and has been active in local tea party events and presentations. He opposed live-in partner benefits pushed by the gay supporters on the council and was active among activists who voted to overturn the ordinance.

By David Tulis / Courtesy of

At a press conference Tuesday on the steps of city hall Mr. Grohn stands amid a lake of signs held by 17 supporters on the rising steps behind him.

The rule of mayor Andy Berke, a well connected liberal Democratic, has lacked accountability to the city corporation’s residents and taxpayers, he says.

Aloofness at city hall. “It’s very difficult for anyone to have a meeting with the administration,” he says, promising to be more accessible.

The violence reduction initiative, or VRI, “is considered by most citizens *** as a failure,” he says. It promised to make the city safer, “but bullets are still flying, people are still dying in many sections of our sections people are living in fear. We need to change this. Can we change it? Absolutely! *** We believe in better for our city.”

In an interview he says he would the city like to have a better relationship with the district attorney and that law enforcement agencies would do better to have more trust among themselves.

A VRI program in Commerce City, Colo, where he taught for 10 years, succeeded by putting 40 gang members in prison using RICO, the federal racketeering and corrupt organizations act, Mr. Grohn says.

Free market stagnation at city core. Mr. Grohn attacks the “lack of affordable housing.” He sees “no sustainable effort over several administrations that address this problem. *** We must address the decline of the urban core around the downtown area of Chattanooga. If all of our citizens are not able to enjoy the prosperity that is currently available in this city, we are not doing our job as citizens. This issue can and will be addressed — and why? Because I believe — and you believe — in better.”

Implied in his comments are positive city government action rather than a retreat from existing forms of state and city intervention in the free market.

➤  Potholes. Mayor Berke and the council have done much for roads, but not enough, Mr. Grohn says. His first budget would have F$5 million “to at least maintain our street infrastructure,” that being a level of spending he says had been recommended years ago by city engineers as a minimal level.

Question on ‘surplus oppression’? ‘We were wrong’

David Tulis — “The police department is an executive agency that responds to and serves the mayor. If it weren’t for the mayor, the executive branch, it wouldn’t necessarily exist. You could say, ‘we are abolishing the police department.’ That would be in you authority as the chief executive of the city. In light of the Hanson Melvin case last week where there was an accusation made under false statement by an officer, no probable cause in the arrest; the case was dismissed with prejudice Friday [by Judge Don Poole] — that suggests a kind of surplus oppression by that organization. Do you view it that way, or are police good people trying to make it safer — or is something oppressive about things such as that against that black man, Hanson Melvin?

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