Category: 2017 Birmingham Mayor Elections

From Gardendale to Syria: BirminghamWatch Reprises Its Most Interesting Stories of 2017

BirminghamWatch stepped out of the mainstream in 2017 to give you stories that didn’t just recap the news, but also explained how the news was affecting our culture and the people in it.

BW has followed, and continues to follow, arguments for and against Gardendale’s attempts to break away from the county and form its own school system. It has brought you stories of immigrants who have made Alabama their home, of the state’s attempts to improve student performance regardless of high poverty rates in schools, and of the effect the state’s budget decisions are having on the environment.

2017 also was a year of elections, from the culmination of the presidential election with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, to the Birmingham city elections, to the U.S. Senate special election that attracted national attention. BirminghamWatch worked to give voters the information they needed before going to the polls, in addition to delivering that something extra that helped explain the issues, the politics and the ramifications of the elections.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading BirminghamWatch in 2017, and please continue reading to see what we have in store for 2018! Read more.

Police Chief A.C. Roper Retires as Mayor Woodfin Looks to Make Personnel Changes at City Hall

Nov. 29, 2017 — Less than 24 hours after Mayor Randall Woodfin took office, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper announced his retirement.

Roper, who has been chief since 2007, said in a statement that he’d informed Woodfin of his decision on Nov. 8. He said he had decided not to reapply for his position “after a considerable amount of prayer.” Roper said he’d stay on for the next few months as the search process begins for a new chief.

Roper’s future with the department had been in question since Woodfin’s election, though Woodfin stressed Monday that Roper’s resignation was voluntary. Throughout his campaign, Woodfin expressed concern over the increase of crime in the city. The city logged its 100th homicide of 2017 on Monday — roughly on track to tie 2016’s homicide count of 109, the highest number since 2006’s 110.

Woodfin when he spoke with BirminghamWatch on Monday described gun violence in Birmingham as an “epidemic” and said the city would have to combat crime “in a different way” than it had been.

Read more.

Woodfin Takes Office as Mayor, Promises Spirit of Collaboration at City Hall

Nov. 28, 2017 — “Truthfully, this is not my inauguration,” Randall Woodfin said shortly after he was sworn in as Birmingham’s 30th mayor. “This is our inauguration.”

That sentiment — that Woodfin’s administration will be a collective effort to improve the city — extended throughout most of the inauguration ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Before Woodfin took the oath of office, political commentator and motivational speaker Jeff Johnson urged attendees to ask themselves what they could do to improve the city. Singer-songwriter Sebastian Cole performed a cover version of John Legend’s “If You’re Out There,” a call-to-action anthem that quotes Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see.”

After Woodfin was sworn into office by Judge Nakita Blocton — with his mother, Cynthia Woodfin-Kellum, holding the bible — he, too, emphasized the importance of community collaboration. He cited the “grassroots movement we built from scratch” as having propelled him into office.

For much of his speech, Woodfin referred to himself and the nine members of the City Council as a unit, at one point calling them up to join him at the podium.

“The 10 of us collectively not only represent you, are dedicated to fighting for you, but wholeheartedly we believe in you,” he said. Read more.

As He Takes Office, Mayor Randall Woodfin Looks to Hard Decisions Ahead

Randall Woodfin was officially sworn in as the 30th mayor of Birmingham today, beginning a four-year term that he has promised will bring major changes to the organization and operation of city government, including pushes to increase transparency and reduce crime.

He’ll start his tenure with an audit of city finances and reassessment of the structures of all city departments — which, he says, is going to lead to some “heavy” decisions. There are other challenges ahead as well, he said, in working to reduce the city’s rampant gun violence, advocating for an increased minimum wage, and improving the quality of life for Birmingham citizens.
Read the Q&A with the new mayor.

Woodfin to Be Inaugurated as Birmingham’s New Mayor Tuesday

Randall Woodfin will be officially sworn in as Birmingham’s 30th mayor Tuesday, following his upset of incumbent William Bell in last month’s runoff.

Woodfin’s campaign was sometimes presented as a populist insurgency, leaning heavily on grassroots fundraising and endorsements from progressive figures such as former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Bell in a controversial speech he gave to members of his staff in August characterized Woodfin’s campaign as part of a nationwide effort focused on “restructuring the Democratic political dynamic” and compared Woodfin to Chokwe Lumumba, a self-described “radical” progressive candidate who became mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, earlier this year.

Woodfin has downplayed the narrative of himself as a far-left candidate, telling In These Times’ Katherine Webb-Hehn last month that he considered his platform as a “people-centered” and “lean-left” platform, not an “extreme” one. Read more.

Inaugural Day Events
Swearing-In Ceremony
Tuesday, 12 p.m., Linn Park

Watch Woodfin officially take the oath of office in Linn Park, just outside of City Hall. In a statement published on his website, Woodfin describes the event as “the culmination of more than a year of hard work by many, many people across our city who joined together to with his important election.”

Green Carpet Inaugural Reception
Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., Birmingham Museum of Art

Woodfin says he is “not a red-carpet kind of guy,” so he’s getting around that by changing the color of the carpet. The green carpet is meant to “recognize all the thousands of people who worked at the grassroots level to make our election a reality.” All are invited to the event, which is being held in conjunction with the Birmingham City Council.

Inaugural Events for Birmingham’s New Mayor

Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin will drop the “-elect” from his title when he is officially inaugurated as Birmingham’s 30th mayor Tuesday.

Festivities marking the inauguration began Sunday with a Day of Service, encouraging people to get out and better their community, and a Prayer for the City of Birmingham event held Sunday night.

Here’s a rundown of the inauguration day events:

Swearing-In Ceremony

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 12 p.m., Linn Park

Watch Woodfin officially take the oath of office in Linn Park, just outside of City Hall. In a statement published on his website, Woodfin describes the event as “the culmination of more than a year of hard work by many, many people across our city who joined together to with his important election.”

Green Carpet Inaugural Reception

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 5:30 p.m., Birmingham Museum of Art

Woodfin says he is “not a red-carpet kind of guy,” so he’s getting around that by changing the color of the carpet. The green carpet is meant to “recognize all the thousands of people who worked at the grassroots level to make our election a reality.” All are invited to the event, which is being held in conjunction with the Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham Votes 2017

Randall Woodfin will be sworn in as Birmingham’s new mayor during his inauguration Nov. 28. BirminghamWatch interviewed him, new council members and departing council members before the passing of the baton: First? Look at the Books: A Q&A With Birmingham’s Next Mayor Newly Elected Birmingham City Councilor Hunter Williams Calls for Broad Coordination to Move

Woodfin Announces Leaders of Transition Committees

Oct. 23, 2017 — Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday the chairs of three of his administration’s citizen-led transition committees.
Herschell Hamilton and Detective Ralph Patterson will head up the Neighborhood Revitalization and Public Safety Committee, Dr. Nancy Dunlap and Richard Rice will co-chair the Social Justice Committee, and Daniel Coleman and Annie Allen will helm the Transparency and Efficient Government Committee.
Woodfin introduced the six co-chairs during a press conference at the Negro Southern League Museum, describing their committees as a continuation of his campaign’s “neighborhoods-up” strategy.
“We’re still committed to not just a grassroots process, but committed to how we move our city forward for all the people that live in the city limits of Birmingham,” he said. Read more.

First? Look at the Books: A Q&A With Birmingham’s Next Mayor

This is the second in a series of interviews BirminghamWatch will be conducting with newly elected city officials.

Birmingham Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin said he is “concerned” with the way his predecessor has run City Hall, and his first order of business when he takes office Nov. 28 will be to assess city finances and staffing to see whether there has been any wrongdoing.

Woodfin defeated incumbent William Bell, who had served as mayor since 2010, by a significant margin in Oct. 3’s runoff election. Throughout his campaign, Woodfin, who takes office Nov. 28, promised, among other things, to conduct a forensic audit on city finances, to provide more support for the city’s neglected neighborhoods and to restore transparency and accountability to City Hall.

In an interview with BirminghamWatch conducted just after the announcement of his administration’s transition team, Woodfin discussed his expectations for the beginning of his mayorship, his plan to reshape the mayor’s office staff, and his approach to both neighborhood and economic revitalization. Read the Q&A

Randall Woodfin Defeats Incumbent William Bell to Become Birmingham’s Next Mayor

A night of upsets in Birmingham city government culminated in the victory of challenger Randall Woodfin over incumbent William Bell.

Woodfin topped Bell in the race by more than 7,500 votes, getting 58.94 percent of the vote compared to Bell’s 41.06 percent, according to the unofficial vote tally.

It was the end of an often contentious campaign in which Woodfin challenged the status quo. “We deserve better” was his campaign slogan.

Bell campaigned on his experience and accomplishments. But ultimately, a public dissatisfaction with Bell’s seven-year administration won out.

“Birmingham, this is our moment,” Woodfin said to a raucous crowd of supporters gathered at his campaign party. Read more.