Tim Kelly cruised to an easy win this week to become Chattanooga’s 66th mayor.
He will be sworn in Monday, along with the nine members of the City Council, including new members Jenny Hill (who also serves on the school board and must believe running for office counts as good cardio, too), Isiah Hester and Raquetta Dotley.
For Kelly, who spent a pot of his own money to topple more than a dozen challengers in the March election and eased by Kim White in Tuesday’s runoff with a commanding 60% of the vote, the challenges are numerous, from long range to looming right around the corner. And the majority of them will not be fixed with a shovel and wheelbarrow.
Everyone will be watching how he will work with Chattanooga Police Department Chief David Roddy. Everyone will be watching how he is able to influence the direction of downtown development — development that is splitting into unsustainable segments from the Tennessee River and North Shore to the bottom of Lookout Mountain.
There are pandemic recovery and jobs issues, affordable housing shortages and, of course, paving and pothole repair. Side note: It will be a welcome relief for our next mayor to put the brakes on the bike lane fiasco, but that’s low-hanging fruit (with apologies to the six peddlers who actually used those in the last half decade).
I could go on, but you get the idea. There is quite a long list of priorities and challenges.
Chattanooga is beginning to shake off its pandemic fatigue, and that’s great news because the Scenic City needs to stretch its legs and, more importantly, retap the tourism money spigot.
A recent online survey by LawnStarter that ranked 191 American cities from most-to-least relaxed based on 57 indicators put Chattanooga near the bottom of most-relaxed cities.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Lawnstarter.com was just a lawn care company hawking the best grass seed or the most affordable push mower.
The company also cranks out surveys ranking cities in a variety of areas, including best cities in which to get stoned.
As for the most- or least-relaxed cities, Lawnstarter crunched everything from rates of depression and high blood pressure to life expectancy and the average length of a work day. The work day averages and livability scores include traffic measurements as well as walking and biking scores. Hey, Lawnstarter, did y’all count our bike lanes?
Sunnyvale, California, was listed as the most-relaxed city in the survey; Kansas City is the least relaxed/most stressed. As for Chattanooga, we ranked 186th among 191 cities studied, right behind Cleveland, Ohio, and just ahead of Clarksville, Tennessee. We’re dealing with a lot of stuff apparently, as we ranked 189th in mental health, 161st in physical health and 183rd in social environment.
Sources for some of the data came from organizations such as American Public Gardens, the U.S. Department of Labor, the FBI and the CDC. Not sure if they got your grade school permanent record, but the survey feels pretty thorough, even though it felt like you needed three degrees and a slide rule to crack the code of the analysis.
Still, our ranking is a bit confounding, because in the realm of interweb reviews, Chattanooga is the LeBron of lists.
On his website, our mayor-elect says, “Chattanooga succeeds when we work together in the spirit of transparency and common purpose. We must act with urgency to seize our opportunity to become the best city in the country.”
Kelly’s “First 100 days” plan looks like he’s prepared to hit the ground running.
It’s going to be a stressful transition, and I wish Kelly all the luck in the world.
He’s going to need it — and we’re going to need him to have it.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com.