Where the Candidates Stand On Energy: Chattanooga Mayoral Candidate Tim Kelly

In this blog, we examine the policies and positions of Tim Kelly, candidate running for Mayor in the Chattanooga runoff election. Also in this series we profile Kim White, the other candidate in the Mayoral runoff election. 

Guest Blog | March 25, 2021 | Elections, Energy Policy, Tennessee
This blog post was written by Brady Watson, former Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
This is one of two blog posts examining where candidates for Chattanooga’s mayoral race stand on key energy and climate issues. In this blog, we examine the policies and positions of Tim Kelly, a candidate running for Mayor in the Chattanooga runoff election. Also in this 2021 series, we profile Kim White, the other candidate in the Mayoral runoff election.

Read the ‘Where the Candidates Stand’ 2021 Blog Series

Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites, and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.

Tim Kelly is a Chattanooga native and started working at the family car dealership as a young man. He has since taken over the business and then started his own series of dealerships, including Subaru and Honda. He has served as Chairman of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and as a member of the Hamilton County Schools Budget Working Group. He is also part of the team helping launch the Chattanooga Football Club. 


The Sustainability section of Kelly’s website states that the city should prioritize higher energy efficiency standards in all city-owned buildings and public housing. It also says that one of the roles of the City Office of Sustainability under his administration would be to help businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work to facilitate public and private initiatives to add renewable energy to the local grid.

Mr. Kelly also lists goals of beginning a program to benchmark energy usage of all businesses greater than 25,000 square feet by 2023; adding 50 megawatts of renewable energy to the grid by 2026; a carbon-neutral footprint for municipal properties by 2030; and net carbon neutrality, community-wide, for the city of Chattanooga by 2050. During a forum conducted by the Tennessee Environmental Council, Mr. Kelly mentioned, “it’s important to note that we can help residents save money through a lot of the programs that Greenspaces offers right now. Their Empower Chattanooga program is great. It helps residents weatherproof homes.” 


Mr. Kelly states on his website that should he be elected, “sustainability will be woven into every aspect of City governance,” and that governmental decisions should all include environmental and sustainability criteria. Mr. Kelly articulated guidelines for the City Office of Sustainability under his administration, the first of which states that projects must “positively impact the quality of the air, water, and land of Chattanooga.”  As previously mentioned, Tim Kelly has goals of making municipal properties net-zero carbon by 2030 and the entire city of Chattanooga net-zero or negative carbon by 2050. The campaign website section also says the Office of Sustainability under a Kelly administration will produce an annual report on the city’s carbon footprint. 


There is a mention of incentivizing electrification of local transportation on Mr. Kelly’s website, as well as working to increase ridership on the city’s public transit system. Also, in a forum conducted by the Tennessee Environmental Council, Mr. Kelly mentioned the electrification of ride-sharing vehicles and that “Chattanooga needs to get back to being a leader in EVs and green tech, and as others have said, what’s going on at VW is a great step in the right direction, and Chattanooga’s got a huge opportunity economically to become a hub for the sustainability industry so I look forward to pushing that.” 


During the Tennessee Environmental Council forum, Mr. Kelly stated, “environmental justice is very important to me and we know–and I certainly recognize–that historically black communities have been a dumping ground for industries in Chattanooga and it’s wrong, and it has to stop. Equity is really at the heart of all of our policies and I’ve got a plan for the Black community. I’ve got a business in Alton Park and I’m very familiar with the pollution there. There are many things we can do to address the issue, accessing Medicare funding to help, working with state and federal authorities to fund and prioritize cleanups.”

He also mentioned later, “we’ve got a lot of slumlords in Chattanooga, particularly in these neighborhoods and some of them are very well-connected and I will not put up with that sort of thing. We will work with landlords to make needed improvements or we’ll run them off. We won’t protect them and we’ll see that properties are efficient. This stuff is not only terrible economic injustice, it’s environmental injustice.” 


We were unable to confirm the candidate’s position on this energy-related issue in published media, public records, or the campaign website.


Election Day is Tuesday, April 13, 2021, for the City of Chattanooga Municipal Run-Off Election. Polls will be open from 8 AM to 7 PM Eastern on Election Day.

Early Voting began March 24 and will end April 8. The Election Commission office and all Early Voting sites will be closed on Friday, April 2, 2021, in observance of Good Friday.

Absentee ballot applications are being accepted beginning March 12. The last day to submit an absentee application is April 6. To learn more about the runoff election, visit the Hamilton County Election Commission website


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