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Anthony Byrd, left, is overcome with joy at his victory over incumbent City Councilman Moses Freeman in the Chattanooga municipal election on March 7.

If you go

The Chattanooga City Council and Mayor Andy Berke will be sworn in Monday at the Tivoli Theatre. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the ceremony starts at 3. The public is invited, or people can watch the live stream at www.chattanooga.gov.

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Four fresh faces will be sworn in as members of the Chattanooga City Council on Monday, including one who weathered a media report about her history as a convicted felon the day after her election.

Anthony Byrd, Demetrus Coonrod, Darrin Ledford and Erskine Oglesby Jr. are city council newbies, but both current and incoming members anticipate the council will get to work on the city's business immediately.

"We're going to have to take our bumps and scrapes like everybody else, but I think at this point everybody is kind of humbled and ready to listen," Byrd said.

He believes the ouster of three incumbents was a signal from Chattanooga voters who used the ballot box to demand a course alteration for the city.

"The city spoke up," he said. "I really, really feel that a lot is going to happen over the next four years because everyone is learning."

Ledford and Byrd claimed the seats for districts 4 and 8 respectively in the March 7 election. Oglesby and Coonrod had to go a second round with incumbents Chris Anderson and Yusuf Hakeem a month later to win their 7th and 9th districts, respectively, in runoff elections.

Councilman Chip Henderson said he expects the rookies will work well with returning council members, as well as rebalance the council's ideological makeup.

"I think our council over the past four years kind of politically leaned to the left, but I think those that are coming in and those that are remaining, we'll be more aligned in the center," Henderson said.

As for how effective the four rookies will be, Henderson said they're all capable people with good ideas, but they will inevitably discover there are limits to what is possible to enact or change.

"They understand the issues in their district and will bring those issues to the table," he said. "I think you have grand plans when you come in and you figure out what you can actually impact. They'll come more into reality about the things they'll be able to affect."

Since the election, Coonrod has endured a lot of public scrutiny following the release of a media report detailing her criminal history, which she spoke about frequently on the campaign trail.

She said the article was "meant to be negative," but far from casting a shadow over the start to her service on the council, it galvanized her to "rise above" and throw herself at the work.

"That story just gave me more energy," she said. "That story being told the way they told it — so many people have called me and reached out to me because that's a portrait of their life as well."

John Kerns, a candidate Coonrod defeated in the first election, came to her defense after the article, penning a commentary published in the Times Free Press on Saturday.

"Using stale news to attempt to delegitimize her victory or hinder her politically before she's even taken her seat on the dais is a disservice to a part of our city where getting it right or wrong will have a direct impact on Chattanooga's future," he wrote.

Kerns admitted he shared few political views with Coonrod and actually supported Hakeem once he had been knocked out of the running himself, but also said he hopes she succeeds as a councilwoman.

"In this reactionary time that's over-saturated with media and commentary, I like knowing that kind of redemption is still available in America. Councilwoman-Elect Demetrus Coonrod and 700 voters in Chattanooga just proved it," he wrote.

"Politics aside, I can't help but be thankful for that."

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

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