Though two of them will have to fight for their seats in in Oct. 5 runoff election, Tuesday night’s municipal election proved friendly to incumbents on the Birmingham City Council, with six councilors retaining their seats outright, despite a crowded slate of challengers.
Councilors facing multiple challengers had to receive over 50% of the vote to avoid triggering an Oct. 5 runoff election with the second-place candidate. Most were successful, but two — District 4’s William Parker and District 9’s John Hilliard — were not and will face challengers in a runoff Oct. 5.
The only councilor guaranteed a spot on the council in 2022 going into Tuesday’s election was District 1 Councilor Clinton Woods, who ran unopposed as he sought his second term in office.
A second freshman councilor, District 2’s Hunter Williams, easily won a second term with 69.5% of the vote, despite a strong challenge from former Ruffner Mountain interim executive director Kimberly Jeanty, who garnered roughly 16.6% of the vote.
District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott, the council’s longest-serving member (since 2001), also fended off challenges from activist Alice Speake (who received 28.7% of the vote), I Believe in Birmingham founder Joseph Casper Baker III (12.5%) and former U.S. Army sergeant Wil Jones (6%). Abbott received 52.8% of the vote.
Things proved a little more difficult for District 4 Councilor — and current council president — William Parker, who struggled throughout the night to hold onto the majority of the vote required to avoid a runoff. Though Parker held a consistent lead in the district’s five-person race, he ended up with only 41.9% of the vote — meaning that he’ll face off with Woodlawn-based activist J.T. Moore (who received 23.1%) during the Oct. 5 runoff.
Districts 5 and 6
District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn and District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman both won four more years in office, carrying 58% and 66.6% of the vote in their respective races.
District 7 Councilor Wardine Alexander avoided a runoff with 52.9% of the vote in a three-way race. She defeated frequent challenger Lonnie Malone and La’Toya Lee, case manager for the Jefferson County Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Authority.
The most hotly contested council race was for the District 8 seat, held by Steven Hoyt since 2005. After a long period of deliberation, Hoyt announced earlier this year that he had opted not to seek re-election, resulting in an eight-candidate scrimmage to take his place.
Real estate developer Carol Clarke — a former director of economic development for the city under Mayor Bernard Kincaid — kept a commanding lead in District 8 race throughout the night, securing the 52% of the vote to avoid a runoff. Community activist Celi Soto trailed in second place with just 13% of the vote.
District 9 Councilor John Hilliard’s claim to his seat will also remain up in the air until the runoff, when he’ll face off with challenger LaTonya Tate, who received 29.3% of the vote to Hilliard’s 49.2%.
Birmingham’s runoff election is scheduled for Oct. 5.