Speaking to a room of supporters at the Chattanooga Auction House Thursday night, City Council Chair Pam Ladd expressed her desire to run for city mayor next year, but tempered it with an appeal to the group for assistance in raising realistic campaign funds.
"If I don't have $150,000 in the bank by August, I'm not going to pull the trigger," Ladd told the group, according to a Nooga.com source.
The councilwoman did not deny the quote and said Friday that although her event included an opportunity to make contributions, it was not branded as an official fundraiser for a mayoral campaign.
Although speculation has swirled around Ladd as a potential candidate for the March race, she has yet to officially declare a candidacy.
"I was there to tell a group that wants me to run what we'll have to do, to tell them what my goals will be to have to consider a run—but we were not there to garnish funds," Ladd said. "I was honest, that it's going to take this, and if you back me, you're going to have to help me get there."
Ladd's goals are likely influenced by the lone mayoral candidate and outgoing state Sen. Andy Berke, who has reported more than $383,000 cash-on-hand for his campaign since declaring his candidacy in May. So far, Berke is the only candidate to officially announce a bid.
Ladd, who is wrapping up her first term as representative of District 3 on City Council, said if she eventually were to decide on not running for mayor, she would seek re-election to her current post at City Hall. But by throwing her hat in the ring for mayor, Ladd would forego her opportunity for re-election to council.
"I need to be sure this is doable," she said.
Any funds raised by Ladd as she explores the possibility of a mayoral bid would still be at her disposal were she to make another bid for City Council. Tennessee campaign finance law permits candidates to transfer funds raised for local races.
Other names floated as potential candidates in the March 2013 mayor's race include Commissioner Warren Mackey; Jim Folkner, leader of Citizens to Recall Mayor Ron Littlefield; Roger Tuder, executive director of Associated Contractors of East Tennessee; and Guy Satterfield, a former city transportation inspector.
Littlefield, who took office in 2005, is term-limited.