By Randall Woodfin, a candidate for mayor of Birmingham, an attorney and a member of the Birmingham School Board
The shock has finally sunk in. Just a few days from now, Donald J. Drumpf will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. I know many of you are still licking your wounds and recovering from November’s unexpected outcome. And some of you may even feel like stepping away from the political process entirely, discouraged that your voice will ever be heard.
When you have leaders in City Hall that do little more than point fingers and a mayor that has gained more national attention for fist fighting in backrooms rather than in communities fighting for our families, it’s easy to understand how some become disillusioned by politics or cynically view city government as business as usual.
Well real change is on the horizon. And Birmingham needs you, so now is not the time to give in or give up. In August, citizens will have an opportunity to vote for a new direction and fresh vision for our city.
I declared my candidacy for Mayor of Birmingham because I believe politics should be about identifying our city’s problems and working together in good faith to solve them. This means making real investments in creating jobs, safeguarding our neighborhoods, supporting local business and fostering communities where all families can thrive.
Birmingham faces real, urgent threats. Growing income inequality and double-digit unemployment in many of our neighborhoods. Blighted neighborhoods. And we are consistently rated as one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Despite these challenges, some of our leaders have focused on their own political careers – more concerned with scoring political points than doing what’s right for Birmingham. And the hardworking families across the city deserve more. They deserve better.
As a lifelong Birmingham resident, I have profound respect for Mayor Bell’s decades of service to the city. But forty years, however you look at it, is a long time to serve in any capacity. Forty years can lead to rigidity, an unwillingness to compromise, and a “my way or the highway” approach to solving the city’s problems.
The depth of our challenges requires a new generation of leadership that is committed to bringing people together no matter the cost. Leaders who are willing to listen and work with people who do not always agree. Leaders who respect differing views and find common ground with the City Council on the critical issues affecting our city.
If we are serious about tackling our problems, we must get serious about cooperation and collaboration and electing a mayor that is committed to listening, building consensus and leading by example.
If we truly want to make Birmingham the best version of itself, we deserve a leader that the people can trust. Someone that welcomes transparency and accountability. A visionary that embraces economic development downtown, yet remains responsive to the needs of the other 98 neighborhoods across the city.
Those voices from the other neighborhoods may go ignored in Mayor Bell’s office, but not mine. The heartfelt stories from my old stomping grounds in North Birmingham and Crestwood, as well as other neighborhoods that are persistently left behind, have shaped my values and principles over the years. I’ve experienced many of your frustrations, understand your anxieties, and empathize with your hopes for the future. And I promise to be the voice and champion that you deserve in the mayor’s office.
Those voices from the other neighborhoods may go ignored in Mayor Bell’s office, but not mine.
Because of my tenure as president of the Birmingham Public School Board, I can’t help but be a relentless optimist that always believes there is a light of hope, even in the dimmest situations. I hold this conviction because I believe in the God-given potential within our children – our future business leaders, future doctors, and future police officers. They deserve a better Birmingham, and I spent the last few years trying to ensure that they got the Birmingham they deserved.
Now is not the time to give up. We all must stay engaged. Keep organizing. And together, we will build a Birmingham that works for everyone.