Tuesday’s runoff election delivered a new mayor to Birmingham, Alabama. Randall Woodfin, a 36-year-old Democrat who served on the school board and worked as a city prosecutor, defeated two-term incumbent, 68-year-old William Bell. To the surprise of many, Woodfin won 58 percent of the vote compared to Bell’s 41 percent.
“Our city, our 23 communities, our 99 neighborhoods, you have all spoken very clearly,” Woodfin said to open his victory speech. “We deserve better.”
Who Voted For Woodfin?
The difference in this campaign compared to Bell’s is that Woodfin appealed to a younger demographic–which is often criticized for political apathy. He was supported by progressive groups and even got an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders–in spite of Woodfin’s support of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 primary. Woodfin took his message directly to the people.
“Woodfin won because he got out the younger vote,” said political science professor Vince Gawronski. “With Woodfin winning , he proved that Birmingham is a much more forward and cosmopolitan place.”
So What’s Woodfin’s Message?
Woodfin says that southern states, particularly in the Southeast, have the power to bring about revolution. Woodfin called them “the frontline resistance to Trump policies.” The newly-elected mayor capitalized on the overwhelming dismay and disappointment that many people are experiencing in the months that Trump has been in office.
Woodfin believes that Birmingham has the resources available to provide that something better and the people have elected the right man for the job. He is even pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage for the city, especially city workers.
“There’s not a shortage of funding in Birmingham,” Woodfin said. “There’s a shortage of priorities and a vision to move the city forward with tax dollars in an appropriate and transparent way.”
What Will He Do First?
The new mayor told TV One’s Roland Martin that he plans to make all local government offices more efficient by ensuring that they are staffed with the right number of well-qualified people. He will eliminate wasteful spending and ensure that taxpayers know where their tax dollars are being spent. Woodfin also plans to sit down with the police chief and come up with a plan to reduce the crime rate by bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement.
Woodfin’s people-centered approach promises to fully-engage the citizens of Birmingham. He wants to empower people where they live, educate them, and build bridges bringing the whole of the community together. After the success of his campaign, Woodfin just might have the vision and wherewithal to get it done.