2021 Birmingham Mayoral Candidate Profiles

 1570251493 
1629115529

Miranda Fulmore, WBHM

The Aug. 24 Birmingham city election has shaped up to be a contentious one, with voters going to the polls to elect the city’s next mayor, city councilors and board of education members.

In the mayor’s race, eight candidates — the current mayor, a former mayor, a Jefferson County commissioner, and several community activists and entrepreneurs — are pitted against each other.

The council races also have drawn a lot of attention. Most of the district races involve four or more candidates, with District 8 topping out with eight candidates. Only District 1 was uncontested. Incumbent Councilor Clinton Woods will return to that seat for another term.

Twenty-one people are running for eight seats on the Birmingham Board of Education. All of the board’s seats were contested except for District 7, where incumbent Walter “Big Walt” Wilson will return for another term.

BirminghamWatch has put together a Voter Guide with information you need to navigate the election, including profiles of each candidate, details about the voting process and the city sample ballot.

William Bell

Age: 72

Residence: College Hills

Political experience: Mayor of Birmingham, 2010-17; president pro tempore, Jefferson County Commission, 2008-10; member, Birmingham City Council, 1979-2001 and council president, 1985-93, 1997-2001

Professional experience: Business consultant, 1989-present; probation officer, Jefferson County, 1969-74; salesman, Xerox, 1974-79; assistant to the vice president, UAB, 1979-89

Civic experience: Member, Climate Reality Leadership; board member, U.S. International Committee on Monuments and Historical Sites; U.S. representative to Habitat III, 2016; U.S. representative at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; U.S. representative to signing of Paris Climate Accord; U.S. representative for WWII Commemoration in Normandy, France

Education: Doctor of Jurisprudence, Miles College School of Law, 1981; M.A. in counseling and psychology, UAB, 1974; B.A. in psychology, UAB, 1972; A.B. degree, Gadsden State Community College; John Carroll Catholic High School, 1967

Top contributors: David Shelby, $20,000; Triangle Partners LLC, $15,000; United PAC, $7,000

Main Issues: Crime and public safety, neighborhoods, education, jobs, environment, economic development, infrastructure

Campaign: bellforbirmingham.com

Cerissa Brown

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: First political race. She is the only mayoral candidate who has not previously run for office.

Professional experience: Entrepreneur, Call Center Customer Service with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama for more than 21 years

Civic experience: Director, Birmingham Chapter of the Little Black Dress Club for businesswomen; vocal advocate for mental health and for members of the local homeless population

Education: Cornell University

Significant endorsements: Future Generations PAC

Main Issues: Helping the homeless population, advocating for mental health, proper job training and networking for entrepreneurs or people looking for employment, turning empty schools into Birmingham Career Centers.

Campaign: www.cerissabrown.com

Napoleon Gonzalez

Gonzalez has filed papers to run for mayor, but BirminghamWatch has been unable to find him to gather information.

Ervin Philemon Hill II

Age: 48

Residence: Birmingham

Political experience: Ran for Birmingham mayor in 2017, placed seventh.

Professional experience: Founder and executive director at Legacy Sports Junior Golf Association, 2011-present; founder, owner, president and general manager at Legacy Sports Management International, LLC, 2005-present; operations staff at PGA Tour, 2004; Pro Shop staff at American Golf Corporation, 2003-2004; executive director at Shower of Love Tour; owner and president at EPH Sports Warehouse, LLC; founder at Legacy Sports Junior Tennis Association; mechanical engineer at Southern Nuclear Company; mechanical engineer at Raytheon Systems Company.

Civic experience: Organizer, Magic City Diamond Classic, 2017; organizer, Magic City Hardwood Classic; organizer, Legacy Sports Business and Industry Academy’s Education Beyond the Classroom Initiative

Education: Clark Atlanta University, Master of Business Administration, marketing and finance, 2002-2004; Tuskegee University, Bachelor of science, mechanical engineering, 1990-1995; Arthur Harold Parker High School, 1986-1990; Ephesus Junior Academy.

Top contributors: None filed.

Main issues: On his Facebook page, Hill says that, if elected, he would push for more health, recreation, and entertainment options for each of Birmingham’s nine districts; advocate for a museum in the Civil Rights District honoring African-American veterans; and develop a HBCU Sports Hall of Fame and Museum to complement the Magic City Classic football game. Hill also on his page opposes the council’s actions to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/e.philemon.hill

Lashunda Scales

Age: 50

Residence: Huffman

Political experience: Ran for the Birmingham City Council in 2005, losing to Joel Montgomery in a runoff. Finished second in the primary to incumbent Oliver Robinson in a bid for Alabama House District 58 in 2006. Was elected District 1 representative to the City Council in November 2009 and served nearly 3 terms. Defeated George Bowman for District 1 seat on the Jefferson County Commission in 2018.

Professional experience: Owner, Scales PR Marketing Firm Inc., February 2000-present. Has worked for several other businesses, including some that are family owned and operated.

Civic experience: Partner In Education, Birmingham City Schools; former vice president, Echo Highlands Neighborhood Association; former board member, Family Involvement Program; former chair, Huffman High School FBLA marketing committee.

Education: Attended Stillman College; associate’s, Jefferson State; Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, 2015; Leadership Birmingham, 2016; Leadership Alabama XXXI, 2021-2022.

Significant endorsements: Former University of Alabama and NBA basketball player Buck Johnson.

Top contributors: Marion Collins, $17,920; Raymond & Paulette Brooks, $7,800, including $1,800 from Raymond Brooks; Shedrick Vance, $6,500; Ralph Sanders, $4,000; Win Pac-2018, $4,000.

Main Issues: Strengthen community policing. Establish a proactive police department and Internal Affairs Division that is fair and equitable. Strengthen the city’s partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement to proactively fight crime. Establish a third party independent community relations board to oversee statistical data reported to the general public and neighborhood associations. Fully restore the “Keep Birmingham Beautiful” program. Develop a citywide neighborhood revitalization plan. Enforce city codes on illegal dumping, overgrown lots and dilapidated residential and commercial properties. Partner with Birmingham City Schools to advance educational standards, resources and accountability. Work with local, state and federal economic development partners to champion Birmingham business interests and opportunities through matching grants, loans and other means.

Campaign: https://scalesbhm2021.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/ScalesForBHMMayor/

Darryl Williams

Darryl Williams did not respond to request for information from BirminghamWatch, and little information on him was publicly available.

Darryl Williams is an activist who has had experience in politics for decades, but this the first time that he has run for office.

Williams told the Birmingham Business Journal that he wants to spread the city’s resources into poorer neighborhoods and away from the Downtown-Uptown corridor, starting with better funding for schools. In particular, he wants to focus on teaching trades in schools again, as well as providing grants for students who learn those trades to go into business for themselves.

Better education and opportunities also would help reduce Birmingham’s crime problem, Williams said.

Williams also wants to target waste in city government. “I want to get rid of the waste at city hall. I could do the same thing with 40 people that they do with 100,” he told the Journal.

In an interview with WVTM-13, Williams also said there should be a change in leadership at the Birmingham Police Department, and more effort should be given to getting stolen firearms off the streets. He also advocated the legalization of marijuana.

Randall L. Woodfin

Age: 40

Residence: Central City

Political experience: Mayor of Birmingham, 2017-present; member, Birmingham Board of Education, 2013-17; president, Birmingham Board of Education, 2013-15

Professional experience: Mayor of Birmingham, 2017-present; assistant city attorney, city of Birmingham, 2009-17

Civic experience: Former board member, Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; former board member, Birmingham Botanical Gardens; former board member, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama; former board member, Birmingham Change Fund; former board member, American Red Cross; former board member, Birmingham Education Foundation; former board member, Birmingham Cultural Alliance; former board member, Start the Adventure in Reading; former president, Birmingham Chapter of the Morehouse College Alumni Association; Leadership Alabama, 2016; featured speaker, TEDx Birmingham, 2017; Alabama state director, Hillary for America, 2016

Education: Juris doctor, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, 2007; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Morehouse College, 2003

Significant endorsements: Sen. Nina Turner, Ohio, Collective PAC, Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, Future Generation PAC, former Sen. Doug Jones, former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, Political Revolution, Alabama College Democrats, Alabama High School Democrats, Birmingham Firefighters, Fraternal Order of Police membership, state Rep. Rolanda Hollis, Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson

Top contributors: North Alabama PAC, $50,000; Sheree Acheson, $50,000; Marcel Dareus, $25,000; Margaret Elizabeth Hemberg, $25,000; Landon Ash, $25,000

Main Issues: “Four years ago, I inherited a city struggling under the weight of blighted structures, crumbling infrastructure, vast food deserts, and stagnant growth. Since taking office, I’ve torn down thousands of abandoned buildings, repaved thousands of miles of roads, filled potholes in every neighborhood, fought to bring in new grocery stores and prepared over a thousand students to attend college tuition-free through Birmingham Promise. But many of these issues have persisted for decades — we need more than four years to fix them. In my next term, I’ll continue this growth by building more affordable housing, investing in early childhood development, working to rectify the impacts of environmental racism, spending at least $100 million with minority and women-owned businesses, continuing to reduce violent crime and turn the tide on gun violence. These goals and more are laid out on my website at randallwoodfin.com/Vision2025.”

Campaign: randallwoodfin.com

Chris Woods

Age: 59

Residence: Avondale

Political experience: Has not held political office but is making his third bid for mayor, having run in 1995 and 2017.

Professional experience: President and CEO of C.W. Woods Contracting, LLC.

Education: Auburn University, B.S. degree in industrial arts, 1990.

Significant endorsements: Federal Judge U.W. Clemon; Dr. James Andrews, orthopedic surgeon; Judge Houston Brown; Bishop Calvin Woods; the Rev. Peter Wren, senior bishop of Church in God in Christ; the Rev. O.L. Meadows, senior bishop of Alabama First Jurisdiction.

Top contributors: Alabama Development PAC, $32,000; Dr. James Andrews, $5,000; Christopher Travis, $5,000; Robin & Morton, $5,000; R.P. Wilkin, $5,000; Anthony Thomasino, $2,000.

Main Issues: Deliver services the citizens of Birmingham deserve on a routine basis. Battle crime. Value and support city employees. Consistently pick up and remove trash. Start a free pre-school program.

Campaign: chriswoodsformayor.com

 

Birmingham City Council moves toward approval of cannabis dispensaries

Birmingham has taken “the first step” on the road to legalizing medical marijuana. The City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate within Birmingham city limits.

The landmark Voting Rights Act faces further dismantling in case from Alabama

The law is once again on the chopping block ­— this time on the question of how state legislatures may draw congressional district lines when the state's voters are racially polarized.

Gulf States rank at the bottom for climate-adapted housing. Organizers want to change that.

As natural disasters and extreme weather become more frequent in the Gulf South, a new report hopes to be a road map to providing more climate-adapted housing.

How Dr. Emily Fortney is using her clinical psychology work to help pregnant people

Suicide is a leading cause of death in women, and mood and anxiety disorders make perinatal risks more complicated. Dr. Fortney’s work is focused on this issue.

Regions Bank to refund $141M for illegal overdraft fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that between 2018 and 2021, Regions was charging overdraft fees on some ATM withdrawals as well as some debit card purchases, even after the bank told the customers they had enough funds to cover the transactions.

Jackson’s water crisis put new attention on its longstanding lead contamination issue

Jackson’s water issues echo infrastructure struggles across the Gulf South, resulting in nearly 1,800 lawsuits over the past year and attention from the EPA.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage