D’Andre Anderson has a statement to make: People Over Politics.
Actually, it’s more than a statement. It’s the tagline for the campaign that Anderson, a senior majoring in theatre at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is using as he runs for a seat on the Chattanooga City Council.
“I just thought it was time for elected officials who were transparent, who were going to mend some bridges instead of tearing some down. I just thought it was time for a representative who was young and who was ready to bring new, innovative ideas. I think it’s time for new blood,” said Anderson, who goes by “Dre” and graduates in May.
A native of Chattanooga who grew up in the Harrison area, Anderson is running for the District 8 seat on the city council, a spot now held by Anthony Byrd, who is running for re-election. Marie Mott, a local activist, also is running for the seat. The election is on Tuesday, March 2.
Anderson has been in politics before, having run for a seat on the Hamilton County Board of Education in 2018. While a student at Central High School, he was president of the Student Advisory Council for the school board.
Combining his student responsibilities while running for city council “has been pretty easy,” he says, then stops himself with a laugh.
“Oh, I’m not going to lie. It’s been very hard,” he said, “but I’ve had professors that have been very, very understanding. They’ve encouraged me, helped me set up plans to stay on track in school while also not losing focus with the campaign. It’s been a little overwhelming at times, but at other times I remember why I’m doing it.”
One of the faculty members he mentions as a mentor is Gaye Jeffers, associate professor of theater. She describes him as someone willing to hear what others are saying and not rejecting it outright because it doesn’t snugly fit with his beliefs.
“Dre is a person led by ideas. There is a part of him that is always listening—to the people around him and to his intuitive self,” Jeffers said.
“Dre is following his gut and responding to the world in this moment to fill a need that he believes will make our community better. As a theatre artist, Dre is a great collaborator and as a citizen, he is also a great collaborator. The results may be different, but the process is the same. I guess both begin with listening. “
He also puts his beliefs and his heart into action. A few months ago, he put out a social media request for donations to be used to help the homeless. Within a couple of days, about $2,500 had been raised.
“It was coming in like wildfire,” he said.
The students took the money and bought clothing, food and other items that they took to the Community Kitchen on 11th Avenue, the Public Library and Miller Plaza, among other spots where the homeless congregate.
“It’s little things like that where I feel the UTC students have always been supportive,” he said.
Seeing the enthusiasm from other college students drives his desire to be on the Chattanooga City Council.
“My generation is the future of this country and I think it’s time for us to start to hold some of these seats and let our voice be heard on a larger scale,” he said.
“Times are changing, and we need modern solutions to these modern problems. I think if we continue the same thing, we’re not going to get anywhere.”