Councilmember Cynthia Hedge Morrell and criminal defense attorney Jason Williams will face each other in a March runoff for the Councilmember at-large, Division 2 seat.

Hedge-Morrell received at total of 35,767 votes, or 44 percent, in Saturday’s election. Williams captured 39 percent, 31,273 votes. Ernest “Freddie” Charbonnet, an attorney, received 13,832 votes, or 17 percent.

Hedge-Morrell and Williams, both Democrats, disagreed very little in their assessments of the city’s failures and the general ways to remedy them during the campaign.

But the race became a referendum on the importance of experience in a candidate.

Hedge-Morrell, who was elected to the City Council in a special election four months before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said her opponents lacked the experience necessary to hold an at-large seat. She said the position should be reserved for someone who had first served as a district representative on the council.

Hedge-Morrell led the coalition that rewrote the ordinance regarding the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in city-awarded contracts to formalize participation goals for contractors and ensure they meet them.

Williams, who ran unsuccessfully for district attorney in 2008, has called for a “new generation” of leadership on the council and said he would bring innovative ideas to the job.

Williams has said he would push to increase the budget for youth and family services, in an effort to address the city’s crime problem. He also said he would be tougher than the current council has been in questioning the mayor on how city dollars are spent.