District 7’s vacant seat on the Birmingham City Council will remain empty for at least another week after the eight remaining councilors failed to agree on an appointment during Tuesday’s meeting.
Jay Roberson resigned from the seat on Sept. 10, citing his wife’s new job with Alabaster City Schools. The question of his replacement has loomed large over the council since he announced his departure in August — particularly since two other councilors, Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson, also will leave the council in November to take seats on the Jefferson County Commission.
Whoever is appointed to the seat will serve until the next scheduled election. Currently, that is slated for 2021, though there have been suggestions that an election may be called next year.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, the council had narrowed the initial field of 13 applicants down to five finalists — Wardine Alexander, Raymond Brooks, Charles Crockrom, Lonnie Malone and Walter Wilson. But at Tuesday’s meeting, the council’s vote was evenly split between Alexander and Malone.
Alexander is a former president of the Birmingham Board of Education — she lost her bid for re-election in 2017 — and a current member of the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees. She will have to step down from the library board if she is appointed to the council.
In her application, Alexander cited her civic experience and said she would work to “advocate and promote liaison with the local school system, junior colleges, businesses, and city government to provide increased opportunities for work force development within our community, and safety in our schools.”
Alexander received votes from Darrell O’Quinn, William Parker, Hunter Williams and Council President Valerie Abbott.
Malone previously ran against Roberson for the seat in 2017, coming in second place with 961 votes. Malone currently works as a senior engineer at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plant in Vance, Ala., and also founded the Effective Family, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to “helping to restore families through innovative community relations programs.”
Seven residents of District 7, including Malone’s wife Lynn, spoke in his favor at Tuesday’s meeting. He secured four council votes, from Lashunda Scales, John Hilliard, Sheila Tyson and Steven Hoyt.
With the vote tied, Abbott called for a second vote in an attempt to break the stalemate, but that vote yielded the same result, after which the council voted to delay the item for a week.
“Obviously, we’ve got politics at work today,” Scales said, renewing her calls for the vote to take place before she and Tyson are slated to leave office.
The lack of an appointment meant that a second vote — to select Roberson’s replacement as president pro tempore — was also delayed a week.