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Staff Photo by Angela Lewis Foster / Demetrus Coonrod, right, gets a hug from Loretta Nunn Tuesday, April 11, 2017 while celebrating her win over incumbent City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem in a run-off election.
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Staff Photo by Angela Lewis Foster / Demetrus Coonrod reacts Tuesday, April 11, 2017 to her win over incumbent City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem in a run-off election.
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Demetrus Coonrod has unseated Yusuf Hakeem in the runoff election for Chattanooga City Council District 9.

Coonrod beat Hakeem by a wide margin, 700 votes to 467. 

"It's unbelievable," Coonrod said of her victory. "I just thank God."

Coonrod said she "absolutely" believed she could win because she knows the people in District 9 wanted change. If she could make it to a runoff with Hakeem, she knew could defeat him, she said. 

Hakeem won the most votes in a four-way race for the seat in the March 7 election, but failed to score the required majority to win. This forced him into a runoff election with runner-up Coonrod to settle the matter.

"I didn't get my people out to the polls," Hakeem said of his loss. "I have to believe it's God's will. I'm not bitter, I'm not upset. I'll just have to see where the Lord leads me next."

District 9 incorporates the precincts of Eastdale, East Chattanooga, Glenwood, Missionary Ridge and Ridgedale.

The campaign fireworks began when Hakeem described Coonrod as "unhinged, a pathological liar and crazy" on a WDEF Sunday afternoon radio program, four days before early voting ended on April 6. 

By that evening, Coonrod insisted Hakeem was the one who was unhinged during a public forum he did not attend. The next day, she released a statement calling Hakeem's comments as "unfounded, distasteful, shameful...and just plain ole disgusting."

Hakeem later charged his opponent has "publicly, carelessly and repeatedly made irresponsible and counterproductive statements" about him and his supporters. 

Both candidates urged voters to focus on their attention to the community's needs and not the attacks dished out by their opponents. 

"I'm looking ahead to moving our district forward," Coonrod said. 

Hakeem has served multiple terms in the District 9 seat since the 1990s.

Correction: This article was updated to fix a typo that added an extra letter to Demetrus Coonrod's name on second reference.

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