With Woodfin: Inspiration by Jennifer Egbe

Randall Woodfin and I first crossed paths in July 2004 when I moved to Birmingham.  Randall immediately struck me as genuine, dependable and honest.  He was my resource for everything from driving directions to recommendations on soul food restaurants. I initially felt certain that I would return to North Carolina after law school, but Randall made me fall in love with Birmingham, and found a way to make it mine.

His love for every part of Birmingham was clear; although I lived at the Summit, Randall took time to show me the good within every district, zone, and zip code of the City.  

We could not go anywhere in Birmingham without being stopped by people who knew Randall, and he knew them. He introduced me to everyone – from homeless citizens to students, childhood neighbors to politicians – and asked about their families and circumstances and goals.  It is not a surprise now that most of them volunteered stories of how Randall had helped them in some way. Randall is the glue for so many in this city, freely giving of himself to improve the lives and circumstances of others.  

But Randall did more than show what Birmingham has to offer; he inspired me to invest and pour myself into the community. More than ten years ago, Randall took me to his alma mater Putnam Middle School. He introduced me to his old teachers and the current administration, and before we left he had convinced all of us that I would be an honorary Putnam Panther.  

Randall tapped into my spirit of volunteerism and love for education, and reminded me of the importance of taking time to nurture your environment. As a result, I helped Randall pilot a mentoring program at Putnam in Birmingham City Schools, and I still receive emails from students notifying me of their academic achievements. 

Simply put, Randall made Birmingham my home away from home and, eventually, Birmingham just became home.

Randall has never been shortsighted in his dedication to Birmingham or his vision for improving the city. His passion for Birmingham’s children was clear over a decade ago when he first revealed his intentions to run for Birmingham School Board. Even when his first attempt was unsuccessful, and the state announced its takeover of the school system, Randall never turned his back on the children. He remained persistent and ran again successfully to begin to effect the change that our children so desperately deserve. 

When others ask me why I am voting for Randall Woodfin to serve as our next mayor, it is not because we are longtime friends.  I am not voting for Randall out of dissatisfaction with my neighborhood, and am not seeking change for change sake. 

I am voting for Randall because I respect his faithfulness to the Birmingham community. I am voting for Randall because I am confident that he will put people over politics and personal gain; that he is less interested in making headlines and more interested in making headway. Because I am my brother’s keeper, while I appreciate the positive growth downtown I cannot overlook the disparity in the surrounding communities. Even beyond those disparities and other issues addressed in the Woodfin Plan, I am voting for Randall because I have never met anyone who is more innovative and devoted to seeing all of Birmingham’s citizens thrive, not just survive.  He has no quit in him.  Even in his quiet demeanor, and with his mild manners, fight for Birmingham – for all that is great in this City and all that could be innovated even further – is what courses through Randall’s veins.

Even Mayor Bell has recognized the real solutions offered in the Woodfin Plan, particularly after taking steps since the first election to implement different aspects of Randall’s proposal. That is why on Tuesday, October 3rd, I will cast my vote for Randall Woodfin for Mayor of Birmingham. Not because he is a young, fresh face, but because he is the RIGHT choice at the RIGHT time. 

I encourage you make your voice heard at the polls, and join me in casting a vote for Randall Woodfin.

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Jennifer Egbe

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