The landscape of the Jefferson County Commission – and the Birmingham City Council – changed Tuesday night as a pair of councilmembers unseated commission incumbents.
Sheila Tyson appeared to have won the Democratic nomination to the Jefferson County Commission District 2 seat. With more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Tyson had 52.6 percent of the vote to Sandra Little Brown’s 47.4 percent, according to the county’s unofficial vote returns.
Lashunda Scales appears to have won the Jefferson County Commission District 1 race. With more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Scales had 59 percent of the vote to incumbent George Bowman’s 41 percent.
Neither Tyson nor Scales faces Republican opposition in November’s general election, making Tuesday’s vote tantamount to election.
“I don’t know if this is how I imagined it would be,” Tyson said at the 4 Seasons Club, where she assembled with supporters. “It’s just unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable. We didn’t have money. We had people in municipalities actually working on the ground.”
Across town in Roebuck, Scales sang “Victory Is Mine” with her supporters.
“This has been a very, very long journey,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to know how to act on a Saturday moving forward (because of the weekend campaign efforts).
Scales said she is the first woman elected District 1 commissioner. “I’m not going to say much more but God’s going to make us the first of many things to come,” she said. “We’re going to keep focused and we’re going to keep fighting (for) the issues that matter most to you.
“I do look forward to working with those cities outside of Birmingham in order to bring the partnerships, the street pavings, all of the things we’ve been missing, that’s going to be brought together because we’re going to work diligently to do that.”
Contacted at his home, Bowman said the people “got what they wanted.”
“What they wanted was someone other than me,” he said. “That’s very clear. It’s the clear will of the people, and they spoke. The people get what they want. They get her, and I’ll retire in November.”
Despite the loss, Brown said she has reason to smile.
“I have reason to smile because I gave Jefferson County everything that I had and I’m proud of the accomplishments that I had and I did make it better. Somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose the race. I’m definitely OK. I wish the best for Jefferson County and Miss Tyson and her leadership.”
Scales and Tyson were elected to their current terms on the council in 2017, and their terms run until 2021. Each will serve on the council until the results of the general election are certified in November. Then they can be sworn in as county commissioners.
Barry Stephenson, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Registrars, said the Birmingham City Council will appoint individuals to fill those seats.
“I believe within 120 days, there has to be a special election,” he said. “That happened when Maxine Parker died a few years ago. They appointed her son and then he had to run, I think within 120 days of his appointment.”
A New Majority
The County Commission will have at least three new members after the votes are certified in the fall. Commissioner David Carrington did not seek reelection, and Republican Steve Ammons beat state Rep. Jack Williams for Carrington’s District 5 seat.
Commission President Jimmie Stephens won the Republican party nomination last month and has no Democratic competition on the ballot in November.
District 4 Commissioner Joe Knight, a Republican, will face Democrat J.T. Smallwood, the county tax collector who is running for the commission seat, in November’s general election.
The commission has been composed of three Republicans and two Democrats.