The race for city mayor gained its third candidate Wednesday, as former Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Director Rob Healy announced his intent to seek the post.
Healy, 61, is a lifelong Chattanooga resident who waged an unsuccessful bid against Mayor Ron Littlefield in 2009.
In his previous bid, Healy pulled down 7,186 votes, enough to comprise 40 percent of the total votes cast.
After picking up his candidate petition, Healy said he hoped to use his experience in the business world to help bring more fiscally responsible management to the city. The candidate described himself as "not a politician" but rather a citizen who opted to run after being encouraged by others.
"Just having watched our government and our city in the last several years, I think that our citizens and our community deserve to have someone who can approach things from a business standpoint, not a political standpoint," Healy said. "They deserve someone who will manage the taxpayers' money with trust and conservative fiscal policies."
Healy, who acknowledged exploring a mayoral bid in September, said he was not running in opposition to either of the two opponents in the race, former state Sen. Andy Berke and former city transportation inspector Guy Satterfield.
Instead, the candidate said he would be announcing key components of his platform in coming weeks, particularly with regards to public safety and economic development.
"Small businesses are the backbone of our country, and I think it's important for government to understand small businesses and work with them in order to make it easier for them to run smoothly and prosper," he said.
Before his work as the Parks and Recreation Department's director, Healy worked to establish and lead Outdoor Chattanooga under the administration of former Mayor Bob Corker. Prior to that, he spent several years working for his family's food brokerage business, along with a period serving as executive director for Make-A-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee.
While working under Littlefield, Healy was dismissed from his position by the mayor in 2006.
"He and I had some differences in opinion in how our government should be run," Healy said.
Healy added that although he would seek to raise enough money to spread his campaign's message, he would not make fundraising the primary focus of his bid. Against Berke, Healy will face an opponent who has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to put toward his campaign.
"We'll raise enough to get our message out, so voters can see the differences between Sen. Berke and myself," he said. "But I also believe it's not about who can raise the most money."
In an emailed statement, Berke campaign staffer Stacy Richardson welcomed Healy to the race.
"Over the past several months, Andy has engaged thousands of voters across Chattanooga on solving our crime issues, developing our economy, and making city government more transparent and accountable," Richardson said. "We welcome Mr. Healy to the conversation."
Satterfield, who recently worked for the city for 33 years, said he was looking forward to a competitive race.
"I think they're both fine people, and I admire them," Satterfield said. "My campaign is grassroots, and I know I'm not going to be able to raise the money Mr. Berke and Mr. Healy will raise, and that's fine. I'll do the best I can."
The election is March 5.
Updated @ 10:23 a.m. on 11/15/12 to correct a factual error: Richardson said that Andy Berke has engaged voters in Chattanooga for months, not years, as the article originally reported.
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