Andy BerkeMayor at City of Chattanooga
Andy was born on March 31, 1968 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Marvin and Kandy Berke.
Andy’s grandfather, Harry, founded a local law practice in Chattanooga aimed at representing and helping Tennesseans. From assisting someone who was discriminated against for his military service to talking to someone who just needed some advice, the Berke family law practice worked to make someone's life better. Growing up in a family devoted to solving problems for individuals, Andy learned the value of helping others while giving back to and improving one’s community.
After graduating with honors from Stanford University in 1990, Andy worked as a legislative assistant in the office of Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon. Seeing Congressman Gordon's attentiveness to his constituents' needs, Andy decided public service was where he could best serve his community.
Andy graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1994. Following law school, he worked as a law clerk for Judge Deanell Tacha of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Judicial Circuit in Denver, Colorado. During this time he also taught at Kansas University Law School as an adjunct professor.
Elected to the State Senate in 2007 and re-elected to a second term in 2008, Andy became the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He served on the Senate Education and Transportation Committees. In 2008, he was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to the State Workforce Development Board. In addition, the State Legislative Leaders Foundation nominated him to attend its Emerging Leaders Program at the Darden School at the University of Virginia Business School. He was honored by the Tennessee PTA as the 2012 Legislator of the Year and the Tennessee Education Association's 2012 Friend of Education Award for his commitment to improving public education across Tennessee. Previously, the County Officials Association of Tennessee had named him its legislator of the year, as had the Southeast Tennessee Development District. Lipscomb University's Institute for Sustainable Practice awarded him its Public Official of the Year.
He was elected Mayor of Chattanooga in March 2013 with over 72% of the electoral vote. Immediately following his inauguration, Mayor Berke streamlined government with a top to bottom reorganization that eliminating three departments and saved taxpayer dollars in the process. Since the reorganization, the Berke Administration has relentlessly focused on making Chattanooga streets safer, families stronger, growing middle class jobs, and using taxpayer dollars efficiently.
During the Mayor’s tenure, Chattanooga has seen a number of improvements in quality of life. Through a coordinated approach with the US attorney, the District Attorney, and law enforcement agencies, the City has seen a decrease in both property and violent crime. Since March of 2013, unemployment has dropped more than 2% . Not only is overall employment on the rise, foreclosure rates have decreased while Chattanooga had the third highest wage growth in the country for a mid-sized city in 2014.
To ensure that this wave of prosperity reaches everyone in Chattanooga, the Mayor has put forth an aggressive workforce development strategy and a number of programs aimed toward increasing economic mobility. In his 2nd State of the City address, Mayor Berke announced that the City would partner with the White House and area nonprofits to end chronic Veterans Homelessness by the end of 2016. Since then, more than 117 veterans have been housed in the Chattanooga area.
While the City does not have authority over the School system, Mayor Berke has put a number of supports in place to help students reach their full potential. Through strategic investments in early childhood education, the City is working to make sure every student is prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten. In 2014, the City received a grant to fund 150 new early learning slots for 2 and 3 year olds. In addition, partnering with a local non-profit, the city has begun Baby University to help parents in need be a newborn child’s first teacher.
Under Mayor Berke’s leadership, Chattanooga has taken bold steps to further harness the unique advantage of having the fastest, cheapest, more pervasive internet in the Western Hemisphere. Following a robust public engagement process, Chattanooga established an Innovation District -- 140 acres in the heart of downtown that houses a catalytic mix of start-up businesses, incubators, and accelerators alongside investors and public amenities. In addition, the City has partnered with various nonprofits, businesses, and County Government to launch Tech Goes Home (TGH), a program recently honored for Digital Inclusion Leadership by the National League of Cities and Google. Through TGH, students and seniors receive practical training on how to use the internet safely. After nine weeks of courses, they are given the option to purchase a low cost Chromebook. To increase connectivity in the home, the City has partnered with EPB to offer a reliable, low-cost, high speed broadband connection to all families with a child on free or reduced lunch.
For these works, Mayor Berke was named Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine.
Andy is married to Monique Prado Berke. Andy and Monique have two daughters, Hannah and Orly.