Birmingham deserves a City Hall that they can trust will always put them first. The last few years have unfortunately been dominated by infighting between the City Council and the Mayor’s Office with long-standing concerns from citizens and the press regarding the openness of City Hall. Opening City Hall up to everyone and repairing the broken relationships between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council and other local, regional and state stakeholders will be one of my top priorities as Mayor.
Giving Birmingham residents more of a voice in shaping the budget and determining how their tax dollars are spent. As Mayor, I would build on the City Council’s field hearings and post-budget tours by introducing a “participatory budgeting” pilot program where neighborhood leadership and Birmingham residents set the priorities for development projects in their neighborhoods. Cities like St. Louis, Chicago and New York have all introduced participatory budgeting for select capital projects, and I would work with each City Councilor to develop a participatory budgeting program to identify neighborhood projects to include in every City capital budget.
Repairing relationships with the City Council. Birmingham faces real challenges, and infighting between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council have embarrassed the City, eroded the relationship between the Mayor and the Council, and led to unnecessary delays in approving the City budget. Repairing the relationship between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council is a top priority for me. As Mayor, I would work with each City Council member to identify key shared district priorities between them and my office and assign rapid response teams of city agencies to each City Council member that can quickly address city service delivery issues in their districts.
Making the Mayor’s travel schedule and expenditures available on the City website. Birmingham taxpayers and the press should know where the Mayor is going and how much Birmingham taxpayers are paying for his travel. Mayor Bell has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel – in many cases staying at luxury hotels at taxpayers’ expense. As Mayor, I would work with the City Chief Information Office to make my travel schedule and expenditures easily accessible and searchable on the City website.
Cutting the Mayor’s security detail. Hundreds of thousands of dollars a year goes into paying for Mayor Bell’s security detail. That money is better spent on our children. As Mayor, I would eliminate the Mayor’s security detail and reinvest those dollars into the Division of Youth Services.
Banning any relatives of the Mayor from working for the City in any role that could influence procurement decisions. No close relative of the Mayor should be in a position to shape any decisions involving City contracts. As mayor, I would work with the City Council to adopt a nepotism policy that would ban any close relatives of the Mayor from working in any roles with that could potentially affect procurement decisions.