Category: 2017 Birmingham Mayor Elections
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
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.
It appears Birmingham voters have replaced their mayor and the president of the City Council.
Randall Woodfin has beaten incumbent William Bell in the race for the mayor’s post. In unofficial vote returns Woodfin has taken almost 59 percent of the vote to Bell’s 41 percent.
It also appears that Council President Johnathan Austin has been beaten in his bid for re-election. In the District 5 race, Darrell O’Quinn had 52 percent of the vote to Austin’s 48 percent, though only about 200 votes separated the men in the district race.
Randall Woodfin appears to have beaten incumbent William Bell in the race to be Birmingham’s next mayor.
Woodfin had 59 percent of the vote to Bell’s 41 percent with 96 percent of the vote counted.
“Birmingham, this is our moment,” Woodfin said to supporters at his campaign party.
Bell had not conceded, but he appeared to his supporters and said “the numbers do not look good.” Bell said he is grateful to the people of Birmingham for the many opportunities they have given him.
• The city is streaming voting results as they come in tonight. Keep up with the numbers here.
• Birmingham city runoff elections are today.
• The mayor’s office, three seats on the City Council and five seats on
the city Board of Education are on the ballot.
• Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Throughout the Birmingham mayoral race, candidate Randall Woodfin has challenged Mayor William Bell’s record on neighborhood revitalization, contending he has neglected struggling areas of the city in favor of developing the downtown area.
Bell, however, maintains that downtown development should be prioritized over some neighborhoods because it is an economic engine that brings money into the city, though his actions have been both lauded and criticized by various neighborhood officials.
The issue of neighborhood revitalization has remained an issue in the mayoral campaign even as the number of candidates was cut from 12 to two.
Birmingham voters will go to the polls today to finally pick the man who will take over the mayor’s office for the next term. Also on the city runoff ballot are three City Council seats and five city Board of Education seats. Read more.
Birmingham City Runoff Voter Guide
Birmingham Mayoral candidate Randall Woodfin called Mayor William Bell’s criticisms of his out-of-state fundraising “false and misleading.”
Bell has called out Woodfin for getting money from out-of-state donors and being supported by a national liberal agenda. Woodfin says some of that is true, but he had to go farther afield for some of his contributors because Bell during his long government career has had the backing of virtually every corporate interest. He also said there’s a fear of retribution that has to be overcome when the opponent is a long-serving, influential official. Read more.
Birmingham’s two remaining mayoral candidates have reported the contributions their campaigns have received since the Aug. 22 election, revealing stark contrasts between the candidates’ fundraising tactics.
Filings submitted last week show that incumbent candidate William Bell has raised $137,000 since the election, more than triple the $42,356 that challenger Randall Woodfin has raised.
But Woodfin surpasses Bell in the sheer number of individual contributors. He’s collected contributions from 327 donors since Aug. 22, with an average donation of $130, while Bell has received contributions from 59 sources, averaging $2,331 per donation.
Mayor William Bell during an Aug. 28 meeting in City Council chambers urged employees of his office to bolster his re-election campaign and told them their jobs could be at stake as well as his.
In an audio recording of the meeting, Bell told staffers that it would be improper for them to campaign for him on city time. But he told them there were activities every weekend and urged them to spread the word on social media about projects conducted during his administration.
“The political survival of my administration is at stake,” he says on the tape. Read more.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell may be in for the fight of his political life.
Bell failed to win a majority of votes cast in the Aug. 22 mayoral election — in fact, he wasn’t even the leading vote-getter — and now will go head-to-head against Birmingham Board of Education member Randall Woodfin in a runoff Oct. 3.
Woodfin took the top spot in the returns with 15,656 votes; at 40.84 percent, he was well short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Bell trailed Woodfin by a wide margin in early returns but closed the gap as the night wore on and finished with 14,011 votes, or 36.55 percent.
Woodfin attracted a diverse following in his campaign, and Bell ended the night vowing to focus in on his base before the next round of voting. Read more.
Check here for results from Tuesday’s election. Many races, including the mayor’s race, are headed to runoffs because no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote.