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Montrell Besley
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In this file photo Erskine Oglesby, Jr., left, talks with Helen Adams in 2013 before a program at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center about HIV/AIDS care and prevention.
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Manny Rico
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Chris Anderson
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The Chattanooga City Council District 7 seat will see a rematch between incumbent Chris Anderson and former two-time incumbent Manny Rico in the city's March 2017 elections.

Both candidates, along with Montrell Besley and Erskine Oglesby Jr., have confirmed their intent to take the seat, although only Oglesby has released a campaign announcement.

District 7 encompasses the precincts of Alton Park 1 & 2, Downtown 1 & 2, East Lake and St. Elmo.

"I'm really proud of what I've accomplished over the last four years, but four years is not enough," said Anderson, marketing director of a nonprofit public arts organization. "My campaign is about progress and the future, not going back to the past."

Anderson said the prospect of a four-way battle does not bother him, citing similar circumstances in the 2013 race, in which he defeated Rico with 56 percent of the vote.

Rico, who owns a monument engraving company, said he enjoyed serving the district for eight years and people have encouraged him to seek the seat again.

"A lot of people have told me they are not getting represented," Rico said Monday, describing his 2013 loss as a "perfect storm" of circumstances. He received 501 votes to Anderson's 802. District 7 voters cast another 106 votes between the other two candidates.

At the time, Rico questioned the morality of the district's decision to elect Anderson, the city's first openly gay councilman.

"Maybe we want a gay councilman," Rico said. "That's what he ran on. That's what disappoints me the most. It seems like we're losing our morals."

Anderson asserted he did not run on a "platform of being gay" and voiced his own disappointments when he responded to Rico's remarks four years ago.

"I ran on the idea of representing all of District 7," Anderson said at the time. "I'm sorry [Rico] can be so disrespectful of the people he claims he represents. I'm sorry that he can be so insensitive, though I understand he's disappointed to lose."

Besley, who teaches elementary health and physical education, said he would make a formal announcement at a later date. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Hamilton County Board of Education Distinct 4 seat in the August general election.

Oglesby, who cited experience with the United Way of Chattanooga and the Southeast Tennessee Development District in his announcement, called for a "new voice" to bring "a new vision, passion and the necessary business experience to advocate for the needs of our community while bringing people together and make the progress needed to move our city forward."

Elections for the Chattanooga mayor and City Council members will be held March 7.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com. Follow on Twitter @pleach_tfp.

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