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Melody Shekari, 28, a lawyer who just completed a policy analyst fellowship with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's office, is scheduled to make her candidacy official at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Chattanooga attorney Melody Shekari has announced her candidacy to represent the 28th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

She is running to replace longtime Rep. JoAnne Favors, who is retiring.

In a news release, Shekari said she made her announcement speech in front of an abandoned supermarket on Glass Street to call attention to the lack of basic services in low-income neighborhoods.

"Too many people in our community can't even buy groceries in their neighborhood," she said. "This creates a real hardship for families and children. If I am elected, one of my first initiatives will be to bring grocery stores, medical clinics, and other resources to our neighborhoods that need better access to services."

Shekari said she has always advocated for others, from advising women running for public office to offering legal services and clinics to immigrants who did not know their legal rights, and partnering with community organizations on local causes. She said she believes in working hard and getting things done.

Her work and volunteer priorities include criminal justice reform, support for public education, job creation and workforce development, and the rights of immigrants.

Shekari, the daughter of immigrants, was raised in Chattanooga. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics and international relations from Bentley University and a master's in public administration from the University of Washington. She earned her law degree at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law before returning to Chattanooga to continue serving her community.

This is her second campaign for public office. In 2016, she ran for the Democratic nomination in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District.

She said she "is not running to take a seat, but instead, to take a stand — a stand for all members of the 28th District."

Other Democratic candidates for the 28th District seat include Jackie Thomas Anderson, Dennis Clark, Yusuf Hakeem and Brandon Woodruff.

The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will face Republican Lemon C. Williams Jr. in the November general election.

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