Randall Woodfin stands on the platforms of improving Birmingham’s education, neighborhood revitalization, small businesses and public safety.
Photo by Ian Keel / Photo Editor.

Randall Woodfin, Mayoral Candidate

In Birmingham, we make history. Everyday people in our city are called to pursue extraordinary feats for the sake of something greater than themselves. You and I call this place home, but around the world, Birmingham is synonymous with progress and change.

Courageous figures like Fred Shuttlesworth, Richard Arrington, Jr. and David Vann forged this reputation through the pursuit of economic equity and social justice at a time when it seemed unattainable.

These men possessed a willingness to lead and were unapologetic in their fight against the status quo. However, there is another shared characteristic that defines their commonality: youth.

Shuttlesworth was 32 when he began his fight to end segregation in Birmingham. Vann was 33 when he helped reform Birmingham local government from city commission to mayor-council, which was critical in ridding City Hall of Bull Connor. Arrington was 36 when he became the second black person elected to City Council, and our first black mayor just eight years later.

I am running for mayor because I believe politics should be about identifying our city's problems and working together in good faith to solve them. And I will not wait my turn. Our time is now.

On Oct. 3, we will have an opportunity to usher in a new generation of leadership to shape the direction of our great city. But rather than focus on the issues plaguing our city, William Bell has made my age an issue.

Bell, 68, has galvanized surrogates to saturate talk radio and social media with the silly notion that I am “too young” and “too inexperienced” to be mayor. What Bell does not realize is that Birmingham’s storied history was written by young people who answered the call when their community needed them the most.

Bell is a career politician that has served in elected office for almost 40 years. This lengthy tenure has produced stale ideas and an unwillingness to compromise. Consequently, this harmful approach only hinders progress and prevents us from solving the city’s problems.

And Birmingham agrees. 63 percent of voters did not mark William Bell on their ballot Aug. 22. 63 percent of our voters believe that Birmingham is better than the 109 homicides we recorded last year and the 30 percent poverty rate. Birmingham is ready to move on from Bell’s tenure.

For Birmingham to return to a place synonymous with progress and transformative change, the Mayor’s office must be fearless in leading this effort.

It takes bold, visionary leadership that embraces economic development downtown, yet remains responsive to the needs of the other 98 neighborhoods across the city. Unfortunately, Bell has been everything but forward thinking when it comes to economic development.

Women and minorities are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs nationally, yet Birmingham has failed to support this trend locally.

As mayor, I will certify that city contracts are awarded to firms with active supplier diversity programs. I will also issue an annual Diverse Spend Scorecard disclosing how much the city spends with minority and women-owned businesses.

Because I believe the youth are the greatest asset we have, I will work to align the skills of our workforce with the needs of regional employers’ by engaging the Birmingham Board of Education. We must ensure every public school graduate is either headed to college, the military, or the workforce with a diploma and an Alabama Career Readiness Certificate.

I will also fight to earmark funds for the Fred Shuttlesworth Opportunity Scholarship to provide debt-free community college for Birmingham City School graduates, allowing students to take advantage of courses shaped by the necessity of regional employer needs.

This is just a glimpse of the broad solutions I have for Birmingham, however, we must have a fierce sense of urgency to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

For those that cast down the youth and millennial generation, I strongly urge you to reconsider. You may be dismissing the very enthusiasm, innovation, and audacity that could change the course of history for the better.

The past might teach and inspire, but we do not have to live in it. We are Birmingham, and we must keep marching forward.

The Mayoral runoff is Oct. 3.

View more from Randall Woodfin.

Editor's note: This article incorrectly listed the Mayoral runoff as Oct. 2, it has since been corrected.

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