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, 36, previously served as an assistant city attorney and as president of the Birmingham Board of Education, a position he held from 2013 to 2015. Woodfin’s mayoral 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.
Last month, Woodfin told BirminghamWatch that his first priority as mayor would be to conduct a forensic audit of city finances, which in turn would lead to “rightsizing” each city department. “If we don’t do an audit, then there is no way we can take a full pulse and assessment of how to move forward in each department,” he said.
But the most immediate impact of Woodfin taking office might be on discussions of the city’s FY 2018 budget, which remains unpassed despite the fiscal year having begun in July. In recent weeks, attempts by Council President Valerie Abbott to pass Bell’s proposed budget have received pushback from her fellow councilors, several of whom have argued that Woodfin should be given a chance to weigh in on it before passage. Now, that seems likelier than ever.
Woodfin’s swearing-in will take place at Linn Park, just outside City Hall, Tuesday at noon. The inauguration will be followed by Woodfin’s first press conference as mayor at City Hall at 2:30 p.m. Inaugural festivities will wrap up with a “green carpet” reception at the Birmingham Museum of Art at 5:30 p.m. All events are open to the public.
Inaugural Day Events
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.