Randall Woodfin won the Mayoral runoff Tuesday evening.
Photo by Ian Keel / Photo Editor.

Wallace Golding

Birmingham has a new mayor, and his name is Randall Woodfin. He defeated incumbent William A. Bell in Tuesday’s runoff election by nearly 20 percent.

Woodfin’s rise to the mayorship was characterized by a contemptuous campaign against 7-year incumbent William A. Bell, especially in the weeks following the Aug. 22 municipal election, where Woodfin pulled 40.84 percent of the vote compared to Bell’s 36.55 percent.

The preceding race boasted a turnout of 26.95 percent, a relatively high number of ballots considering it was a municipal election. This was followed by an even higher 29.6 percent turnout for the runoff, one of the highest figures in modern Birmingham history.

Woodfin captured 24,910 votes in the Oct. 3 runoff compared to Bell’s 17,353. With this, Woodfin, 36, will become the youngest mayor Birmingham has seen since the 1890s, and it was his youthful enthusiasm that many found so appealing.

With a focus on revitalizing all of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods, Woodfin was a long time critic of Bell’s apparent neglect of many of Birmingham’s citizens.

“We need an administration that is intentional about improving quality of life for our residents,” Woodfin said in a February interview with the Kaleidoscope. “That currently doesn’t exist. If it did, I wouldn’t be running.”

Though this was not the only portion of Woodfin’s platform. He also preached solutions to Birmingham’s crime and education crises, adopting a grassroots approach throughout his campaign.

Notorious for his community outreach, Woodfin knocked on “tens of thousands of doors” to garner support for his cause, promising a new Birmingham under his administration.

Bell, however, was much more disillusioned the evening of Oct. 3. He fought tooth and nail throughout the campaign, ultimately falling to the innovative force Woodfin proved to be.

He remained optimistic throughout the campaign, even after the general election; at least that’s the façade his camp chose to show.

“My opponent, for the most part, received a free ride,” Bell said in a September interview with the Kaleidoscope. “There was no focal point on his public service record, which I believe people are now beginning to notice.”

Bell addressed the need for continuity in the city’s government, focusing more on established connections than knocking on doors. He highlighted the progress the city has made since his election in 2010, boasting projects like Regions Field, Railroad Park and Birmingham’s revived downtown.

Woodfin will take office Nov. 28 as the 29th mayor of Birmingham.

Wallace Golding can be reached at wgoldin@uab.edu.

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