Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council Taps Abbott as President and Roberson as Pro Tem, Delays Adopting a Budget

Valerie Abbott was elected president of the Birmingham City Council. Source: Sam Prickett

Oct. 24, 2017 — Shortly after being sworn into office for the 2017-2021 term, the Birmingham City Council elected Councilor Valerie Abbott to serve as president and Councilor Jay Roberson as president pro tempore.

The two will serve in the leadership roles through 2019.

Abbott defeated Councilor Steven Hoyt for the president’s position on a 5-4 vote, drawing support from Councilors Darrell O’Quinn, William Parker, Jay Roberson, and Hunter Williams. This will be her first term as council president; she has served as a council member since 2001. Abbott succeeds former Councilor Johnathan Austin in the position after his loss in the Oct. 3 runoff election.

Roberson was elected president pro tem, also by 5-4 vote. He defeated fellow nominee Sheila Tyson, with votes from O’Quinn, Parker, Williams, and Abbott. Roberson has been a councilor since 2009 and served as president pro tem from 2013 to 2016.

After the vote, Abbott thanked her colleagues before delivering brief remarks.

“The commitment that I make to all of you is that I’m going to be fair, and we’re going to follow our own rules to the best of our abilities,” she said. “I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have shown in me. I know this is a big and very unusual thing for the city of Birmingham, so I am honored.”

After a 10-minute recess, the council began its regularly scheduled meeting, which early on was concerned with the FY 2018 budget. A vote on the budget was delayed because new councilors wanted more time to become familiar with the proposed budget.

O’Quinn, Williams and Hilliard all urged the council to delay the item for at least a week. Hoyt and Councilor Lashunda Scales argued that it should be delayed until after Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin’s inauguration in November.

“Three more weeks is not going to make a difference, quite frankly,” Hoyt said. “There has to be a dialogue between the mayor and council going forward. I think the citizens are watching us … . It should have been passed long before now.”

The city’s budget year began July 1. The city is operating under last year’s budget until a new one is adopted.

The council voted to discuss the budget in a Nov. 28 committee of the whole meeting, though Mayor William Bell told councilors he would make his staff available to the council for clarifications on the budget before then.

A $725,000 contract between the city and REV Birmingham, an economic development organization that receives public funding from the city annually, also was approved. Scales proposed an amendment to the contract to add Roebuck Parkway and Parkway East to the list of REV’s focus areas.

“I do want to see there being some intentional efforts about the east side of Birmingham,” she said. “I don’t want to keep making requests … . Let’s get this in writing.” The amendment, and the resolution as a whole, passed.

After some argument over a Birmingham Airport Authority seat, during which Hoyt and Scales said they wanted the council to wait for Woodfin’s inauguration, the council voted to appoint Christopher A. Johnson to the position.

The council also assigned members to its committees for 2017-2019; the Economic Development and Budget and Finance Committee has been split into two separate committees. The assignments are as follows:

Birmingham City Councilor Lashunda Scales laughs with new Councilor Hunter Williams during the new council’s first meeting. (Source: Sam Prickett)


  1. Valerie Abbott (Chair)
  2. Jay Roberson
  3. William Parker

Budget and Finance

  1. Valerie Abbott (Chair)
  2. Jay Roberson
  3. Darrell O’Quinn

Community Education/Public Relations

  1. Lashunda Scales (Chair)
  2. Valerie Abbott
  3. Sheila Tyson

Economic Development

  1. John Hilliard (Chair)
  2. Lashunda Scales
  3. Jay Roberson

Parks and Recreation

  1. William Parker (Chair)
  2. Sheila Tyson
  3. Steven Hoyt

Planning and Zoning

  1. Steven Hoyt (Chair)
  2. Darrell O’Quinn
  3. Valerie Abbott

Public Improvements

  1. Sheila Tyson (Chair)
  2. William Parker
  3. Hunter Williams

Public Safety

  1. Hunter Williams (Chair)
  2. John Hilliard
  3. Steven Hoyt


  1. Darrell O’Quinn (Chair)
  2. Lashunda Scales
  3. John Hilliard


  1. Jay Roberson (Chair)
  2. Hunter Williams
  3. William Parker