Six-term Chattanooga City Council Member Yusuf Hakeem announced Friday he is running to represent State House District 28. Incumbent Rep. JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga) is not seeking re-election.
“If elected, I will fight to ensure the residents of District 28 have opportunities for job training and affordable housing,” Mr. Hakeem said. “Communities that are lacking in these areas are struggling to survive.”
“Along with other Council members, I worked with the Chamber and other entities to bring more and better paying jobs to Chattanooga and surrounding communities, like Red Bank and Ridgeside.
While we were successful in that effort, there is now a gap between workforce skills and employment opportunities,” he said.
Council member Hakeem visited a school in Georgia where a partnership between local Chambers of Commerce, schools and businesses allows students to go to school a half day and work a half day. “Students were not engaged in learning, but that changed, once they started working and earning money,” Mr. Hakeem said, noting that job placement firms can also train and certify individuals to work in various industries.
Mr. Hakeem served as the first Vice Chairman on the Chattanooga City Council when elected in 1990 and served on the Council until 2005. He was also the first Chairman of the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee. In 2006, he was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole by Governor Phil Bredesen. Mr. Hakeem went on to serve under Gov. Bill Haslam, until voters returned him to the Chattanooga City Council in 2013, and his fellow Council members elected him chairman of the Council, "proving that he also has a track record of being able to work with both sides of the political aisle."
“In addition to job opportunities and education, access to affordable housing can help decrease crime and poverty, because individuals and families are better able to provide for themselves,” Mr. Hakeem said. “No more than 30 to 40 percent of one’s income should go to housing. I will work with local, state and federal officials to find or develop partnerships that will help improve the quality of life for District 28 residents.”
Mr. Hakeem served on the Chattanooga City School Board, prior to being elected to the Chattanooga City Council, for 10 years. Active in community service, he also was a member of the following boards: Chairman, Bessie Smith Cultural Center; Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise; Kirby Day Care Center; Chattanooga Community Impact Fund; Tennessee Human Rights Commission (Appointed by Governor Bredesen); Fortwood Center; Senter School, Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation; Chattanooga/Hamilton County Railroad Authority; and Chairman, Chattanooga-Hamilton County North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization.
If elected, Mr. Hakeem said he will work on some of the same issues as Rep. JoAnne Favors has during her tenure: TennCare expansion, quality schools, seat restraints on school buses and prison reform.
After 25 years of service, Mr. Hakeem retired from the General Electric Corporation. As an employee, he received the GE Community Service Award. He is a graduate of Howard High School and Chattanooga State Community College.
In addition to the GE Community Service Award, Mr. Hakeem has received the following awards: Brainerd Jaycees Leadership Award, Tennessee School Boards Association Award of Recognition, Fortwood Center Leadership Award, TICEP Foundation Appreciation Award, Project Love Role Model Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Freedom Fighter Award, Highland Park Neighborhood Association Appreciation Award, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation Public Sector Award, Chattanooga Police Foundation, Inc. Service Award, Chattanooga African-American Chamber of Commerce Community Choice Award, Hope for Chattanooga Community Development Award, National Association of Social Workers-Tennessee Chapter Public Citizen of the Year, Tennessee Human Rights Commission Service Award, and Second Missionary Baptist Church Spiritual Growth Service Award.
Mr. Hakeem is a deacon and member of the Men’s Choir at Second Missionary Baptist Church. He and his wife of 52 years, Baseemah, have four grown children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.