I am Wade Hinton, a candidate for Mayor of Chattanooga. Please allow me to introduce myself to you and explain why I am ready on day one to be your mayor.
My journey began on the Westside of Chattanooga, as the only son in a family of women. My mom raised my two sisters and myself, imparting the strength and wisdom she had on her children—the strength that came from being the first student to integrate her small-town high school in Pike County, Georgia. My mom raised us not only to stand up for what we believe in, but just as important, to understand the value of service and connection in our communities. We didn’t have a whole lot growing up—I received free and reduced lunch my entire time in public schools—but that never stopped my mom from making sure we served others, be it delivering goods to the elders in the neighborhood or doing laundry for others in the community. These tasks were so entrenched in my life by my mother, that I didn’t even recognize them as service.
But as much as I felt at home on the Westside, I didn’t think there was a place for me in this City. And, I wasn’t alone. As much as there was a transformation happening here in Chattanooga, many of us didn’t feel like we were a part of the story. In the boardrooms and executive suites where decisions were being made about our great city’s future, there were few people who looked like me. The leadership of our city did not reflect the great diversity of our city. I knew that if real change was going to happen, that change had to start with me—that same kid from the Westside whose mom instilled the value of service in him years earlier. So after attending college and law school, I came back home to Chattanooga—much like those young professionals I met in Mayor Benjamin’s office. I came home to work for the change that I believed in. I came home to work for the community and the neighbors that I loved. I came home and I took the lesson of service from my mom and worked to serve my community-the community that raised me.
I worked in the public and private sectors, serving as City Attorney for five years under Mayor Berke. I served as Deputy General Counsel at Volkswagen, as a small business owner, and Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity at Unum.
I have dedicated myself to amplifying the voices of people whose voices haven’t been heard— the people who like me, didn’t feel there was a place for them in the transformation of Chattanooga.
I founded Board Connector to ensure that nonprofit boards are reflective of the diverse populations they serve. I have fought to restore voting rights for people seeking a second chance and I’ve worked with residents in Alton Park so that no parent needs to fear for their child’s safety in school or in after-school programs.
I have committed myself to Chattanooga, the city that raised me, and where I am now raising my daughter, because I believe in Chattanooga. I believe that Chattanooga can grow back stronger after this pandemic- a pandemic that is unlike any other public health crisis that we have seen in our lifetime, robbing people of their lives, and robbing others of their livelihoods. Within months, tens of thousands of Chattanoogans were robbed of their economic security – their ability to pay a mortgage, pay rent and feed their family. But this is an economic crisis that too many Chattanoogans lived on a daily basis before this pandemic, with one in five of our city’s residents living in poverty. This is a health crisis that has exposed disparities in health and health care. After the killing of George Floyd, Chattanoogans joined peaceful protesters from across the nation to demand fairness and civil rights. But the killing of George Floyd was just the latest in a long list of acts of violence that stem from the long history of systemic racism in our society. This event at this moment in time was like a jolt, leading many in our city to re-examine their beliefs and to ask questions. Questions that are uncomfortable to ask. Questions about race and inequality, and questions about actions we can all take in our everyday lives to create change. I want to have these conversations with you.
I have thought long and hard about how I can best continue to serve this city where I was born and raised. This city that I love.
I have thought a lot about how I can continue to work for change and how can all of us together build upon the progress that Chattanooga has made to ensure that prosperity is not for some, but for all.
I also think about how we can unite our city not just in the name of progress, but in the name of justice. And how we can ensure that the voices of those that have been left out or left behind are instead lifted up.
I run for this office at a historic moment in time for our nation and our city. I run for Mayor because the stakes have never been higher and the need for leadership never more essential. I run for this office because I can meet this historic moment in time. I can lead a city that does not just recover, but becomes a model for equity and diversity and inclusion in city government. Not just a place where your voice will be heard but where your ideas will be woven into the fabric of this community we call home.
I hope that you will take time to learn more about my campaign and me before you vote on March 2nd. I am asking for your vote in this important election.
Let’s make history,
Wade Hinton Paid for by Wade Hinton for Mayor/Stefanie Crowe, Treasurer