The search for Jay Roberson’s replacement on the Birmingham City Council will stretch on for at least another week. Interviews to fill the council’s empty District 7 seat were slated to begin Thursday, but they have been pushed back a week due to the absence of District 9 Councilor John Hilliard.
During a Sept. 19 committee of the whole meeting, Hilliard urged for the process of selecting a replacement councilor to be expedited, but later he expressed dismay that interviews were scheduled to take place Sept. 27-29. He would be out of the country, he said, for an “economic venture… on city business.” During the meeting, Hilliard asked a council assistant if he had been included in scheduling discussions for the interviews. The assistant confirmed that he had been.
“I want to be here for those interviews,” Hilliard said. “I thought my colleagues would be accommodating.”
Council President Valerie Abbott agreed to push the interviews back a week so that Hilliard could attend. “I still think we can have someone appointed and in the seat within 45 days of when the vacancies occur. And it’s all dependent on the members of the council and our participation,” she said.
Thirteen people have applied for the position, including former Birmingham Board of Education President Wardine Alexander and Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority board member Theodore Smith.
Roberson announced his resignation in August, citing his wife’s new job at Alabaster City Schools and maintaining that his tenure as councilor had been “upstanding and scandal-free.” His resignation officially took effect Sept. 10.
The council will also have two more empty seats to fill before the end of the year, as District 1’s Lashunda Scales and District 6’s Sheila Tyson will leave the council Nov. 14 to join the Jefferson County Commission. Council President Valerie Abbott has indicated that she will not begin the search for their replacements until Roberson’s replacement has been selected.
“That person needs to participate in the other two (searches),” she said. “We need to get this one under our belt and make sure that the process that we’ve designed works.”