by SYDNEY CROMWELL Photo by Sydney Cromwell. http://ironcity.ink/faces/randall-woodfin-announces-mayoral-candidacy822/ North Birmingham native Randall Woodfin, a member of the Birmingham City Schools Board of Education, says a challenge confronting the system is a significant decrease in its population of students. Randall Woodfin is no stranger to city hall. Through his current work as a city attorney and past involvement with the Mayor’s Office …
Photo by Sydney Cromwell.
North Birmingham native Randall Woodfin, a member of the Birmingham City Schools Board of Education, says a challenge confronting the system is a significant decrease in its population of students.
Randall Woodfin is no stranger to city hall. Through his current work as a city attorney and past involvement with the Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services,Woodfin estimates he’s spent the past 13 years involved in Birmingham’s municipal government.
Now, the 35-year-old Birmingham native wants to make the move to the mayor’s office. Woodfin plans to officially announce his candidacy in Birmingham’s mayoral elections on Saturday, Aug. 27.
“I think there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with voters, with residents, with business owners … about how we can be more accountable, about how we can be more transparent and how we can have a vision and plan around growing our city,” Woodfin said.
As a current member of the Birmingham City Schools Board of Education, it’s no surprise that education is a central part in Woodfin’s platform. He feels “championing education” is a prime duty for Birmingham’s mayor, including creating early learning centers near the city’s elementary schools and pushing job training and certification programs in the high schools.
Another important element, Woodfin said, is assessing how friendly the city is to businesses whether they’re new or existing. This includes measuring customer satisfaction from business owners who come to city hall for licenses and other services.
“At the backbone of our city’s tax base is small businesses,” Woodfin said, adding that measuring and improving morale for municipal employees will also create long-term benefits.
Between now and the mayoral elections in August 2017, Woodfin said he is planning a “listening campaign” across Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods to talk to voters about their concerns and his plans. Woodfin said he doesn’t see a large-scale vision for the city that is directing decisions at city hall, and that “intentionality” is something he wants to bring to the table.
“There is no vision or plan around how any tax dollars are allocated. None,” Woodfin said.
Neighborhood revitalization is a major topic of concern for Woodfin. He said he has helped build the city school system’s budget before and would bring a similar approach if elected mayor, balancing yearly needs with priorities identified in a long-term plan for the city.
“The city of Birmingham is only as strong as its lowest quality-of-life neighborhood,” he said.
Woodfin said the changes he is proposing will require additional revenue to complete, and he’s hoping to create public-private partnerships with various community groups and businesses to offset some of the costs of improvements.
The city council and current mayor have made the news multiple times for instances of disagreement and lack of cooperation. Woodfin said he learned from a young age, by growing up in a large family, how to “play in the sandbox” with other people, a lesson that was reinforced as one of the youngest members of the Board of Education.
“As a mayor, I have to acknowledge I can’t always have my way. There are nine city councilmen and councilwomen that I have to work with, that it’s their city, too,” Woodfin said.
Working as a prosecution attorney has also taught him how to navigate difficult relationships, Woodfin said.
“Ten out of 10 people [who] see me would prefer not to see me,” Woodfin said. “The environment is adversarial … a lot of that just trained me and taught me, though, there’s still a way to interact with people even if there is controversy.”
Woodfin said he hopes the listening campaign will show voters that he can be a “breath of fresh air” for the city if elected.
“If you’re not listening to educators at any level, if you’re not listening to homeowners, if you’re not listening to small business owners, then you’re just blowing smoke. I think people want to know that you genuinely care about their concerns,” Woodfin said.