2024 Election

Datcher, Woodson Move to Runoff in House District 52 Special Election

Kelvin Datcher and Frank Woodson are headed to a runoff in the Alabama House of Representatives District 52 race. (Photos courtesy of campaigns.)

Kelvin Datcher, Birmingham’s deputy director of community development, and nonprofit executive Frank Woodson were the top two candidates in Tuesday’s special election for the Democratic nomination to the Alabama House District 52 seat. They will meet in a runoff July 16.

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Datcher said he’s been overwhelmed by the success of the campaign so far.

“I’m just so proud of the support we got from one side of the community to the other,” he said, yelling above a watch party din at the Fairfield American Legion.

Woodson said he was excited about the results, and he plans on spending the next month speaking with neighbors and community members to let them know their vote matters and is valued.

“So many people feel that it doesn’t matter — that they don’t matter to the political world, and we have to show them different by being different,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday night.

House District 52 covers parts of Birmingham, including the Glen Iris, Powderly, Southwest Birmingham and West End communities; along with sections of Homewood, Mountain Brook, Bessemer, Fairfield and unincorporated Jefferson County.

Six candidates ran in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The other four candidates were Dedra Campbell, Eric Major, LaTanya Millhouse and Eyrika L. Parker.

Datcher received 510 votes, or 37.95% of the total, according to the secretary of state’s website. Woodson received 17.78% of the vote with 239 ballots cast for him, just three more than Millhouse.

Campbell received 4.69% of the vote; Major got 14.73%; and Parker received 7.29%.

Just more than 1,300 residents cast their ballot Tuesday, representing 3.9% of the total registered voters in the district, according to the secretary of state.

The House 52 seat was left vacant after former Rep. John Rogers resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in March. The charges stemmed from a kickback scheme that involved giving $400,000 from the taxpayer-funded Jefferson County Community Service Fund to the Piper Davis Youth Baseball League and then, along with his assistant, receiving $200,000 of that money back. According to the plea deal, Rogers will serve 14 months of home confinement and an undefined length of time on supervised release.

Datcher said he believes voters chose him because of his focus on building alliances among all the officials in the district.

“We’ve got to be on the same team and that allows us to speak with a single voice in Montgomery, which ensures that our community’s priorities are on the state’s agenda,” he said.

Datcher has been in his position with the city of Birmingham since 2017. In 2016, he served as Alabama state director for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Datcher has also worked for Alabama State University, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Jefferson County Health Department, REV Birmingham and the Birmingham City Council.

Woodson is president and CEO of CityServe Alabama. Between 2002 and 2016, he was the executive director for Mission Alabama.