Photo by Dewayne Bingham
By Cassandra Castillo, Assistant Features Editor—
D’Andre Anderson, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, placed his bid to run for City Council representing district 8, which encompasses most of downtown Chattanooga and the university.
At the age of 21, Anderson has participated in what is now two political races. His experience as Communications and Volunteer Coordinator in Equity Alliance and as Religious Affair Specialist in the National Guard have allowed him to get involved with the public.
Anderson, a theatre major also earning a minor in education, is president of the Theatre Honors Society and is involved in greek life with the fraternity BYX. With City Council elections being held in March, and early voting in February, he is nervous about what the spring semester will hold, but is determined to get the seat.
“It has been a lot about time management,” he said. “I’ve had to learn how to prioritize school, work, and campaign. For a little while it was just pretty stressful, but now that school is slowing down and the campaign is heating up, I’m able to kind of reshift my focus to the campaign a little bit more.”
Anderson is utilizing his website and taking advantage of social media to get support from the community. Those who have signed up to donate or volunteer are taking safety precautions by meeting on zoom with him biweekly. He has grown close with his supporters, but they are still unable to meet in person because of COVID.
“Right now, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it’s kind of limited with how much interaction I can have with the community, so a lot of my interaction comes from social media, it comes from phone banking, and there’s a couple of events that happened here and there, mainly voter registration drives or some kind of event that helped the voters be educated or get to the polls,” he said. “Our game plan is to hit social media pretty hard and do the very limited things that we can do in person.”
Anderson’s experience with campaigning in the past after running for school board in 2018 prepared him for this election, but things are different this time around. The pandemic has forced him to shift his campaign strategy, and several of his motives have been altered to better accommodate the public.
“Running with the school board two years ago got me introduced to the world of politics in Chattanooga and I’ve always said, because I didn’t win obviously, that I’m so thankful that I didn’t because the experiences that I have from that race to now have been amazing,” he said. “I’ve always said that if I was going to run again, I was going to feel it in my heart and in my soul, and I feel it this time around because when I was in the process of making the decision, [COVID] had been declared a pandemic, the tornado that happened in Easter took place, and then we were in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. I just felt like it was time for a representative that’s going to put the people first and not the politics.”
Economic development, affordable housing and protecting the people are all key points he wants to address, especially in the district. Anderson wants to stop developers from coming into Chattanooga and transforming the empty lots into housing people cannot afford. He believes this ties with economic development because citizens are not making enough money to afford these condos or apartments being built. This complements his push for longevity and making a lasting impact. He wants to teach younger generations the basics of buying and owning homes to create more sustainable neighborhoods.
Anderson wants to focus on bringing people together to create a sense of unity in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) resurgence and address what he believes has created division.
“This summer, when [BLM] was at its peak, there were a lot of angry people being led by other angry people, and they had every right to be angry,” he said. “I’m not downplaying that at all. However, I think you have to find a way to feel their pain and understand their pain, but be able to take that and move forward together and not tear things down and not hate each other, but find a way to bridge that gap.”
Anderson plans to create a future readiness institute to form connections between the community and police officers in training. This goes with his ‘Protection for the People’ initiative. It would hold officers accountable within their training, while still having them well acquainted with the area and its citizens.
“All cops are not bad,” Anderson said. “There are those bad apples that ruin it for them, so I think this is a very positive 180 that we can have people say ‘I know so-and-so, when I was in the future ready institute I used to go by her family’s house and I know her parents,’ so when something crazy happens it wouldn’t be such a negative thing from the start.”
Anderson expressed how the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the recent conversations about race have become issues where people are having to pick sides between the left versus the right political spectrum. He wants to acknowledge them as human rights, and not issues that should cause political division.
“It blows my mind when I think about some of the stuff we’ve been through in 2020 because we’re fighting for basic human rights,” Anderson said. “It’s not like we’re fighting for something out of this world. I don’t feel like we should be fighting over at how someone died by the police officer. That’s just wrong. It has nothing to do with where you stand politically. As a leader, as a representative, you have to find a way to be there, but not encourage them to continue to build up and harbor that negativity.”
As representative for district 8, Anderson is committed to equality. He believes that many of the appointed officials have their own agendas and their own plans which don’t put the best interest of Chattanoogans at the forefront, and this is something he wants to change.
“I love my constituents, I love my friends and I want all of us to have a bright future that we can move forward with and I just don’t feel like that with my opponents, if one of them were to be elected, we will have that same opportunities,” he said. “And that’s not bashing them, it’s just me being honest.”
At 19 Anderson ran for the district 9 school board, and although he did not receive the seat, he felt he made an impact for younger generations to ‘take a leap of faith,’ because that is what he has done in both races. As the youngest representative he believes that this generation has made a positive impact in the world and can continue doing so.
“Another big reason I’m doing this is to show my generation and those that come after us that we can do that too,” he said. “We don’t have to be 35 years old and white to do this. We can do this now and as hard as it is, I mean it’s so hard, it’s still hard for me because everyone only cares about how old I am. I just want to encourage everyone no matter if I win or lose to continue to fight the good fight.”
To volunteer, donate, or learn more about D’Andre Anderson’s campaign, visit votedandre.com.