President Joe Biden has appointed former Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke as Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Throughout his career, Andy has demonstrated a clear and constant vision to improve the lives of rural Americans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Andy’s advocacy for better services, safer streets and improved infrastructure makes him an inspired choice for the role of Rural Utilities Service Administrator. I look forward to his continued leadership at USDA.”
Prior to his appointment, he served as a Special Representative for Broadband at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Berke, an attorney by trade, won a special election to replace retiring Sen. Ward Crutchfield in 2007. He beat Oscar Brock, son of former U.S. Sen. Bill Brock and ran for a full term in 2008, winning handily. In 2012, he announced he would run for mayor and did not run for Senate reelection. He was handily reelected in 2017, defeating three challengers.
While mayor, Berke reshaped Chattanooga’s city government, adding a Department of Transportation and overhauling the pension plan for the city’s police and fire pension funds, cutting $227 million in expenses. He also established a first-of-its-kind program to expand free high-speed internet service to families with children receiving free or reduced lunch at school. In addition, his administration launched efforts to reduce poverty, improve aging infrastructure and increase the use of clean energy. Among his awards, he was named Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County magazine, and City Executive of the Year by State Scoop. From 2018-2020, he co-chaired the National League of Cities Council on Youth, Education and Families.