Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Says Goodbye to Three of Its Members

Council President William Parker, District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt and District 9 Councilor John Hilliard. (Source: City of Birmingham)

The Birmingham City Council bid farewell to three of its members Tuesday, as well as to outgoing city finance director Lester Smith.

Council President William Parker and District 9 Councilor John Hilliard lost their re-election bids in a runoff earlier this month, while District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt decided not to seek reelection. Smith’s departure from Birmingham’s city government, meanwhile, was announced by Mayor Randall Woodfin at Tuesday’s meeting.

Hoyt, who had been a councilor for 16 years, was given a formal farewell at Oct. 12’s council meeting, with his fellow councilors praising his extensive vocabulary and advocacy for his constituents, particularly with regard to his Education with a Purpose scholarship initiative.

“I want to say, it’s been a 16-year experience serving with you on the council,” said District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott in a farewell video to Hoyt played during last Tuesday’s meeting. She said Hoyt’s educational efforts would be his “lasting legacy on this council.”

Parker and Hilliard received much of the attention during this Tuesday’s meeting.

Hoyt told the outgoing council president that the city would be “forever indebted” to Parker for his work in bolstering the city’s entertainment industry.

“I’m very appreciative to have had an opportunity to serve with you, sir, and to get to know you — even though we don’t know you,” Hoyt said. “You’re kind of a phantom around here. But as much as we’ve been able to ascertain from you and your disposition, it’s just been wonderful … . You put us on maps that we’d never been on before.”

Parker described his time on the council as “the joy of my life.”

Hilliard, meanwhile, told his colleagues that they had not heard the last of him.

“This is not the end for me,” he said. “This is just the beginning. I will take the knowledge that I’ve learned to continue to spread joy, to make a difference, to make a change in my community and my society … . I’ve never been mayor of the city of Birmingham. I’ve never been a county commissioner. I’ve never been a state senator. I’ve never been a congressman. There’s a lot of things I’ve never been, so watch out, because you never know when you’ll see me again!”

Hilliard’s colleagues praised him for his efforts on the council’s economic development committee, as well as his work toward a port authority for the city.

But perhaps the council’s strongest praise was for Smith. The financial director will be leaving his city post Oct. 22. Smith, who had served in the position for just over two years, was lauded for his work “steadying the ship” of city finances, as Hoyt put it — or as District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman said — “for saving the city during the pandemic.”

Woodfin highlighted a list of Smith’s accomplishments, including implementing an online business licensing process, reducing hundreds of vacant city jobs, refinancing the city’s bonds and increasing city efforts to fund its pension plan.

“You were handed a laundry list of financial issues that we needed to solve collectively, and you did an outstanding job with a surprise pandemic in the middle of it,” said District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams.

“What you’ve helped us to do is pretty amazing, when you think about the situation we were in just a short time ago,” District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott told Smith. “I am sorry we are losing you.”

Woodfin’s office has not announced any details about Smith’s replacement.

Next week, J.T. Moore will be sworn into the council to take Parker’s District 4 seat; Carol Clarke will take on Hoyt’s District 8 seat and LaTonya Tate will be sworn in as the councilor for District 9.