UPDATED May 18, 2021 — Three months before Birmingham’s municipal elections, the pool of candidates for City Council is shaping up to be a large one.
Official qualifying for the races will be open June 25-July 9, but candidates already are announcing or speaking to voters through social media. For now, some races are looking more crowded than others.
So far, every incumbent but District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt has confirmed to BirminghamWatch or filed paperwork indicating that they’re seeking re-election. District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods is the only councilman still unopposed.
District 2 Councilor Hunter Williams is seeking re-election. He will be opposed by Kimberly Jeanty, previous interim executive director for the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. Jeanty previously ran for the seat in 2017.
Councilor Valerie Abbott has held the council’s District 3 seat since 2001, making her the current council’s longest-serving member. She’s announced a bid to extend that tenure, though she’ll face at least two challengers. Former Gardendale City Councilor Blake Guinn has announced a run for the seat, as has Joseph Casper Baker III, founder of the Facebook activist group I Believe in Birmingham and a former candidate to represent Alabama House District 54.
Three challengers are seeking the District 4 seat held by Councilor William Parker, who also is seeking re-election. One of them, Qunelius “Cory” Pettway, sought the seat in 2017; after that loss, he spent several years as community liaison for O’Quinn. Also running in District 4 is Scottie McClainey, a former grants program specialist for UAB who previously held positions on the Birmingham Parking Authority Board of Directors and the Downtown Redevelopment Authority board. Jonathan “J.T.” Moore, a manager of community partners at the Woodlawn Foundation, has also filed paperwork to form a campaign.
The newest candidate in that race is Gwendolyn Cook Webb. Webb is a minister, former Birmingham Police Department officer and longtime civil rights activist.
District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who is seeking re-election, will face at least two challengers. Starr Robb, community activist and executive director of Be a Blessing Birmingham, and Birmingham American Federation of Teachers President Richard Franklin are looking to unseat O’Quinn.
Smitherman has confirmed that she’ll run to keep the District 6 seat she was appointed to in 2018. So far, she has two declared opponents. Keith O. Williams, a local activist and vice president of the North Titusville Neighborhood Association, has launched his bid for the seat. He previously ran in 2017 and 2019. Political organizer Clarence Muhammad most recently announced a run for the seat. He also previously ran for the seat in 2019.
District 7 Councilor Wardine Alexander also will run for re-election. She’ll once again be facing off against Lonnie Malone, a local political commentator and executive director of the Effective Family mentorship program. Malone has made two unsuccessful bids for the office before, against Alexander’s predecessor, Jay Roberson, in 2017, and against Alexander in 2019.
In the absence of a confirmed re-election bid from District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt, District 8’s field of candidates has blossomed. Carol E. Clarke, general manager at Southside Development Company and a former economic development director for the city, has been joined in the race by activist Celi Soto, Fairview neighborhood Pesident Adlai Trone and Barbara Files Kennedy. Hoyt did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In District 9, incumbent Councilor John Hilliard is seeking re-election. He will face challenger LaTonya Tate, a retired probation and parole officer and founder of the Alabama Justice Initiative, a group advocating for the end of mass incarceration; BJCTA board member Kevin Powe; and minister and activist Eric Hall.
Updated May 18, 2021.