Selfies and Handshakes and Smiles, Oh My! Birmingham Mayor’s Race Heats Up

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Randall Woodfin and William Bell work the crowd at the P.D. Jackson-Olin High School alumni picnic at McAlpine Park in Ensley.

Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM 90.3 FM

McAlpine Park in Ensley was a sea of green and gold P.D. Jackson-Olin High School alumni Saturday. But there were also lots of people wearing William Bell or Randall Woodfin shirts. The two mayoral candidates were there shaking hands, posing for selfies, and trolling for votes.

Bell, the incumbent mayor, faces Woodfin, a member of the Birmingham school board. Bell trailed Woodfin in the August 22 municipal election.

In the park, Bell said he had to get out and talk with voters to remind them of his accomplishments as mayor.

“I’m not one to get out and beat my chest and say, ‘ look at what I’ve done,’” Bell said. “You have to tell folks the things you’ve done, because sometimes you even forget, yourself.”

He talked about the new fire station and library in nearby Pratt City and his plans for revitalizing downtown Ensley.

Quinton Cheatham of Mason City said he wants a mayor who is committed to repairing the roads and getting rid of abandoned houses and overgrown lots.

“Mayor Bell has been cleaning up the city,” Cheatham says.

Bell, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and sweating, was busy posing for photos with the Jackson Olin Class of 1977.

At 1:30 p.m., Woodfin was at the picnic in a shirt from an earlier and more formal event. Still he worked the crowd, sweat pouring, but smile in place. His goal? Greet everyone in the park. He weaved his way from tent to tent shaking hands, posing for pictures and talking about issues.

One woman came up to talk to him about abandoned houses in Pratt City.

“You all have been neglected for along time,”Woodfin told her, “every year, every month, every week, every day. I’ve been telling people over and over, ‘Look either we need an election ever year or we need new leadership.’”

Kevin Ray, 24, of west Birmingham, says he likes that Woodfin is a young man with good ideas. “His platform is about investing in our infrastructure throughout the year, not just at election time,” he said.

The Birmingham runoff is Oct. 3. In addition to the mayor’s race, there are also runoffs in three city council races and several Birmingham school board races.

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