With three months remaining until election day for municipal offices, Chattanooga mayoral candidate Andy Berke continues to build groups of potential constituents and supporters across the city and state.
Since announcing his bid in May, Berke has organized a host of events around the city, many of which have been geared toward a specific subset of people. Next Thursday, the candidate will host his latest event aimed at a particular group—the "Young Professionals for Berke" kickoff at Blue Orleans.
"If you are ready to be one of the voices of the next generation to help renew Chattanooga, then join us for this kickoff reception and fundraiser," an online invitation to the Dec. 13 event reads.
Other constituency groups targeted by Berke include women, educators and leaders in various faith communities. At recent meetings, participants have been presented with cards listing issues, allowing them to voice concerns and give feedback.
In an interview with Nooga.com, Berke said his goal was to allow as many different types of people as possible to feel like they could be involved with his campaign to become the city's next mayor. The candidate added that he hoped participants could play a role supporting his agenda, were he to be elected in March.
"Through these constituency groups, we're able to reach people throughout the city who are interested in issues and want to improve Chattanooga," Berke said. "After the election, these groups will help identify and implement an agenda to move Chattanooga forward … The great thing about all the groups is that they can discuss ideas and come up with real solutions in addition to being a help in the election."
Beyond general improvement of the city, Berke declined to comment on any specific goals or policy items he would seek to enact as a result of his relationship with various groups.
"The only thing I'd say is that one of the most important things a mayor can do is be a community leader and ensure that people have a voice for what is going on in the city," he said.
Berke's desire to engage with groups supporting his bid extends beyond Chattanooga. The outgoing state senator has already attended a fundraising event in Knoxville and will attend another Young Professionals for Berke event later this month in Nashville.
David Garrison, a Nashville lawyer and Berke supporter, said he had come to know the candidate during his tenure as state senator and wanted to find a way to support him in his latest venture. He plans to host the Nashville event next week.
"We're a group of people who are inspired and have been impressed with Andy's leadership and are wanting to help him because we know he'll do great things in Chattanooga," Garrison said. "Chattanooga has shown great promise, and we know his leadership will result in good things for Chattanooga."
Former city Parks and Recreation Department Director Rob Healy and former city transportation inspector Guy Satterfield are also running in the mayor's race. Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who was elected to his post in 2005, is term-limited.
The election is March 5.