With A Crowded Field For Mayor, Birmingham Voters Weigh In On City’s Future
Birmingham voters have until next week to send in an absentee ballot application, and Election Day is fast approaching on Aug. 24. On the ballot, they’ll find a long list of choices for mayor.
Eight candidates are running to be the next mayor of Birmingham, including incumbent Randall Woodfin, Commissioner LaShunda Scales, former mayor William Bell, local businessman Chris Woods, Cerissa Brown, Philemon Hill, Darryl Williams and Napoleon Gonzalez.
Woodfin is campaigning on the slogan “Vision 2025” and has pledged that he’ll continue to revitalize neighborhoods, get guns off the street and bring more jobs to the city.
However, candidates and citizens have called him out for not fulfilling his promises or making decisions that he never campaigned on when he was first elected in 2017.
Community and economic development consultant Carmen Mays said she supported Woodfin until he signed off on the $90 million dollar construction of the new football field near downtown, called Protective Stadium.
**“It was not a part of anybody’s campaign,” said Mays, who previously served on Woodfin’s transition team. “At no point during the mayoral campaign did we previously talk about a stadium.”
Although Woodfin is facing a lot of criticism, he does have a leg up by being the incumbent.
“Generally, what we’ve seen across all the political science research is that incumbents have an edge in any type of election,” said Peter Jones, a political science professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Additionally, social media can give a candidate an edge at the polls, according to Allen Tharpe, a professor at Miles College.
“Research has shown that more than 50% of Americans get their news from social media. Not from the traditional sources we normally think. So that’s changed the landscape of politics and political campaigning a lot,” Tharpe said.
So far, Woodfin and Scales have seemed to utilize social media more than other candidates.
It’s possible no candidate will win 50% of the vote and the mayoral race will go into a run-off, which is not uncommon for Birmingham elections.
WBHM has talked with Birmingham voters across the city about what they want over the next four years.
Here’s what they told us:
“Help Our Street Neighbors”
“I think about how if we could budget even a minuscule amount of funds to help our street neighbors and to help the people who do not have places to live? The city regularly sells buildings for a dollar to corporate developers to redevelop. Why aren’t we spending that time addressing housing and homelessness, right? I think about that in health care disparity, too.”
— Jamie Foster, 30
“Number one is the crime issue”
“Number one is the crime issue, that’s the first priority. And then our communities that have really been unattended to.”
— Faye Anchrum, 67
“Invest Into Small Businesses”
“Being in a Birmingham-based business, I think that more communication from the mayor, like, what he’s looking to invest into small businesses is super important, and we don’t get a lot of information from him.”
— Madison Brown, 27
A Sense Of Security.
“We should demand that they meet a minimum bar of caring about housing, hunger and food insecurity and that everyone who wants a job has one.”
— Gabriel Cubero, 26
To vote absentee, you must turn in an absentee ballot application by Tuesday, Aug. 17. You can pick up an application at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Once approved, the absentee ballot must be returned to the county courthouse by election day on Tuesday, Aug. 24. If you have any questions, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (205) 254-2290 or visit this link.
**Editor’s Note: Woodfin’s campaign says the mayor did address the issue of a downtown stadium during the 2017 election saying in a debate he did not oppose a stadium and believed the city had to support it financially. This story has also been updated to clarify that absentee ballot applications are due by Aug. 17.