Birmingham has a new city council – six returning members and three new ones. The council took office this morning, pledging to do things differently, mainly working with the new mayor and cooperating.
No one brought out a hymn book at the swearing in of the Birmingham City Council, but all members seemed to sing from same page: work together, children.
Valerie Abbott, the longest serving council member, was elected council president on 5-4 vote. Councilman Jay Roberson is president pro-tempore. They voted for each other while also gaining the support of councilmen Darrell O’Quinn, William Parker and Hunter Williams.
Abbott says this council will usher in a more collaborative spirit.
“I think that it’s this council’s sense that we want to work with the new mayor and all be on one page to the greatest extent possible so that we can move our city forward and have a good reputation while we are doing it,” she says.
In recent years, council meetings have been marked with long, heated debates. During one meeting, there was a fist fight between the mayor and a council member. Abbott says that wasn’t a good look.
“Our reputation has suffered during the times of discord,” she says.
The previous council and the outgoing mayor never agreed on a budget. It was supposed to be passed by July 1.
The budget was on the new council’s first agenda, but members delayed voting to allow Mayor-elect Randall Woodfin to weigh in once he takes office in late November.