One year after taking office, Mayor Andy Berke gave his “State of the City” address at the Chattanoogan Hotel yesterday, providing a detailed status report in which he mentioned all 171,279 residents of Chattanooga individually.
“Friends and neighbors, at my inauguration, I said that the Chattanooga story is not a single story, but a vast tome of numerous individual stories full of hope and resilience, with challenges along the way,” said Berke. “Today, I’m going to tell you these stories. All of them.”
“I want to tell you about Abbie Aaron, a single mother of three,” said Berke. “She told me that she has to work three jobs to make ends meet and has to depend on the bus to get around.”
“I listened to the story of Abe Aaron, no relation to Abbie,” said Berke. “He served our country in the first Iraq War, and now he volunteers his time to coach Little League.”
“At Ooltewah High School, I sat down with Zelda Zummo,” said Berke, seven hours after beginning his speech. “She won first place at the state science fair, and she’s college-bound this fall, studying to be an engineer.”
“That’s everybody,” said Berke. “We are Chattanooga. All 171,279 of…uh…wait…I have just been informed that a baby was just born at Erlanger, so I’m going over there now to talk with the baby.”