In Chattanooga's District 9 election, voters have a choice between a current councilman and one of his forerunners.
Councilman Peter Murphy and former District 9 Councilman Yusuf Hakeem are the only candidates on the ballot.
Hakeem, who represented the district between 1990 and 2006, announced his candidacy this past fall. In his final year in city government, the former councilman left his post to accept an appointment to the state Board of Probation and Parole, after being tapped by former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Upon Gov. Bill Haslam's taking of office, Hakeem's appointment to the board was not renewed.
Still, Hakeem said he opted to seek a seat on the council once more after residents in the district suggested on multiple occasions he consider. The candidate said he was not motivated to run upon not being able to continue his work with the state but rather out of a desire to continue public service.
"There's so much that still needs to be done, and it appears that a person with leadership, experience and the willingness to be a bridge builder is needed," Hakeem said. "I would say that from the perspective of people I've spoken with, Mr. Murphy has not done anything to hurt the district, but he also has not done anything to help."
Hakeem cited business development, job creation and constituent services as areas where he thought improvements could be made.
"People feel they're not being communicated with properly," he said. "It's important for individuals, for their representative to communicate with them."
Murphy, an attorney, dismissed Hakeem's claim.
The councilman described certain neighborhoods in the district, which includes areas of East Chattanooga, Eastdale, Glenwood and Missionary Ridge, as "turning a corner." Murphy also cited other items of progress made during his tenure, from housing programs to the preservation of parks to the creation of jobs in the city.
"We've had the continuing expansion of jobs, and even though some of them aren't in the district, they're certainly within commuting distance," Murphy said. "It seems amazing that, after the recession we went through, that Mr. Hakeem would be critical of our efforts on job creation."
The councilman added that crime rates were down in District 9, compared to Hakeem's tenure.
"I want to keep our progress going," Murphy said. "Violent crime is down considerably, compared to what it was during Mr. Hakeem's term."
Murphy also said he would commit to serving the entirety of a second term if elected, alluding to Hakeem's departing of his post to accept the position on the Board of Probation and Parole before his most recent term on council expired.
"There's no way someone is going to offer me a gig out of town and I would take it," he said. "I'm running for a full four-year term, and I intend to do what I did last time and continue doing that—from grassroots campaigning to talking to people in their own homes about issues of this race."
Municipal elections are March 5.
Updated @ 9:37 a.m. on 1/9/13 to correct the spelling of Yusuf Hakeem's name.