Yusuf Hakeem wins contested state House primary

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Democratic candidate for state house district 28 Yusuf Hakeem gets a congratulatory pat on the shoulders from his campaign manager Sean Nix as he becomes emotional while his lead grows during a democratic party election reception at the Doubletree Hotel on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Former Chattanooga councilman Yusuf Hakeem pulled away early to defeat four competitors in the Democratic primary for the state House of Representatives District 28 seat.

Hakeem, 69, had the most experience in the race and was endorsed by former representative Joanne Favors. Hakeem, a Howard High School and Chattanooga State graduate, served 19 years on city council, 10 years on the Chattanooga Public School Board, seven years on the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole, and six years on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. However, he was unseated from city council last year by Demetrus Coonrod.

"I want to truly thank [my voters] for affording me this opportunity and for the trust they're putting in me to be the Democratic nominee," Hakeem said.

The seat was opened when Favors, a long-time representative, announced her retirement last year, stating it was "time to take a different path" to focus on her family. The Democrat is finishing her seventh consecutive term.

The race to fill her seat focused on economic development for the mostly poor, mostly minority district.

Hakeem believed the last city council race wasn't representative of who he has been as a representative. He was pleased to get another chance.

"I suppose we could use the word redemption," Hakeem said. "But again, this says that we had a great team of people around us that got our message out to the community. As a result of that, people were able to see once again my true self, which is striving to be a servant leader."

The race also featured Melody Shekari, Brandon Woodruff, Dennis Clark and Jacqueline Thomas.

With 126 of 130 precincts reporting in Thursday night, Hakeem was ahead 2,766 votes to Shekari's 1,637.

Hakeem will face Republican Lemon Williams, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary, in the November general election. The two-year term pays an annual salary of $22,667.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.