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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, August 9, 2019

Mayor Berke joins ThinkTennessee




Tennesseans once led the way in civic engagement, but today, the state’s citizens vote less regularly than most Americans. Voter turnout in Tennessee consistently ranks near the bottom of the nation, including No. 50 in 2014 and No. 49 in 2016.

When it comes to many local elections, turnout is particularly low. Fewer than 25% of eligible voters participated in recent local elections in the state’s four largest cities: Memphis (21.9% in 2015); Nashville (17.3% in 2018); Chattanooga (14.1% in 2017); and Knoxville (2.6% in 2015).

To combat this trend and share best practices for increasing civic engagement, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is joining ThinkTennessee, along with city and county mayors across the state, to launch the Tennessee Mayors Growing Civic Engagement project.

Participating mayors will identify actions they can take to increase civic engagement, from deepening engagement with local youth by creating Mayor’s Youth Councils to convening community members to discuss the importance of civic participation.

“Our city, state and country are all stronger when everyone gets involved,” says Berke. “Over the last few years, we’ve worked closely with a variety of community partners, including civil rights advocates, faith leaders, business leaders and members of our Mayor’s Youth Council, on strategies to boost enrollment and turnout.

“We’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned with our partners at ThinkTennessee and find out what else we can do to strengthen the democratic process from the ground up and the inside out.”

Over the course of the project, ThinkTennessee will provide mayors with individual guidance and facilitate a community of practice to help tackle common challenges and scale solutions.

At the end of the year, ThinkTennessee will share a summary report highlighting lessons learned and success stories from participating communities so that others might replicate what they achieved.

The Tennessee cohort is the first of its kind in the nation. Current participants represent the geographic and political diversity of the state and also include:

Mayor Ken Moore

City of Franklin

Mayor John Clark

City of Kingsport (2015-2019)

Mayor Pat Shull (2019-)

City of Kingsport

Mayor David Briley

City of Nashville

Mayor Chaz Molder

City of Columbia

Mayor Jim Strickland

City of Memphis

Mayor Barry Hutcherson

Chester County

Mayor Lee Harris

Shelby County

Mayor Jake Bynum

Weakley County

Mayor Rogers Anderson

Williamson County

More at www.thinktennessee.org.

Source: ThinkTennessee