Metro Roundup: Birmingham election results could show birth of ‘woodworking machine’

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Birmingham’s mayoral race won by incumbent Randall Woodfin in August gave him a second term and solidified his position as a formidable political force in the Magic City, some observers say.

Woodfin largely won against his seven challengers, including Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales and former Mayor William Bell Sr., topping the race with 64% of the vote, the second highest being Scales with 20%.

“Woodfin’s victory is no surprise,” said Larry Powell, political communications expert at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “I thought he would win without a second round. He had the best campaign and the best grassroots organization. In addition, it is very much appreciated.

Despite Woodfin’s colossal victory, Natalie Davis, a political science professor at Birmingham-Southern College, said she was surprised at how well Scales did, even though she came in second by a wide margin.

“She had a good campaign,” Davis said. “I thought it was really a good citywide effort on his part.”

Davis said Woodfin reminded him of Richard Arrington Jr., the first black mayor of Birmingham elected in the 1970s, in terms of popularity and confidence.

“We used to talk about the Arrington machine, and it was helpful to voters because if Dr Arrington approved of someone, voters were convinced that person reflected the policies, values, opinions of Dr Arrington. , whatever, ”Davis said.

“I think we can now talk about a Woodfin machine,” she said. “I think his approval was sought in this election, and he’s starting to make a very strong connection to the political process, which I think, even though he served on the school board, he was relatively new ago. four years.

“The pre-election ballot had the mayor in the ’60s, and my own feeling was that it was inevitable that he would be re-elected,” Davis continued.

“He took all the boxes in town, but he did better in the boxes which are mostly white boxes,” Davis said. “He connected with Southside, Forest Park, Crestwood and I think it got over a lot, but he still took a little from each box. Establishment has its advantages.

Woodfin’s money, the solid take-down operation and the numerous phone calls and mailings have been to his advantage, Davis said.

The mayor, however, faced challenges during his re-election campaign over the summer.

During a press conference on June 23, Woodfin had to answer tough questions about five cases of child shooting that remain unresolved. “I want to remind the public that we still need your help in resolving these cases,” said Woodfin. “I don’t think it’s helpful or successful in terms of our ability to reduce and solve crime. “

Woodfin said during his campaign in 2017 that Birmingham needed a “poverty reduction initiative” to deter and prevent crime in the city, and he established the mayor’s office for peace and politics after his election. The office created and supported initiatives such as the Tuhska Lusa Initiative, which provided social support and group therapy to at-risk repeat offenders.

Despite these initiatives, many activists in Birmingham felt that Woodfin broke his promises after he and US Attorney Jay Town created the Public Safety Task Force, a task force aimed at reducing the rate of violent crime in Birmingham.

The task force is made up of representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, including the US Marshals Service, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Lyrics, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. and Explosives.

Members and leaders of the Black Lives Matter Birmingham chapter said they were alarmed by the task force in an article publicly rescinding their endorsement of Woodfin.

“As a candidate for mayor, Randall Woodfin is committed to making Birmingham work for all of its citizens,” BLM-Birmingham said. “As mayor, he speaks candidly about what progress can look like and often mentions that the phrase ‘Plutting People First’ is not just a slogan but a strategy. However, his recent actions and policy changes appear to be working for the privileged few and to the detriment of the people of Birmingham as a whole. “

One of their main concerns, BLM-Birmingham said, was the shortlist of “serious offenders” that have come to the attention of several law enforcement agencies. “The hyper-surveillance of communities of color is a problematic law enforcement habit that must be stopped,” BLM-Birmingham said.

Woodfin said he supported BLM and understood their concerns, but believed a task force was a necessary step to reduce crime in Birmingham. The task force will only arrest offenders who commit violent crimes, not innocent people, Woodfin said.

“There is one element in our city that doesn’t care about other people’s lives,” said Woodfin. “If an organization has a better way to stop them than to stop them, show it to me. I will stay with them as long as necessary. “


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