On the promise of a better Birmingham, Mayor Randall Woodfin handily wins re-election
After four years of expansive growth in the tech and startup sectors, widespread neighborhood revitalization, and a progressive approach to police reform and citizen voice, the city of Birmingham has decided that the leadership of Mayor Randall Woodfin is worth another four years in office.
The Road to Re-Election
On Tuesday, Woodfin, 40, secured his second term at Birmingham's City Hall. His path to two terms, however, has not been exactly rosy. Woodfin started his mayoral journey as the youngest city leader in Birmingham's history, prompting many citizens to doubt his ability to successfully lead the city given his youth. In spite of the doubters, Woodfin persevered, envisioning and working toward a Birmingham that could compete with larger, more popular cities across the United States.
(Photo by Brandon Colvin for Our 360 News)
Woodfin's tenure as mayor has also been marked by one of the most frightening public health crises in recent history. City officials nationwide have struggled to conduct "business-as-usual" in the face of "anything-but-usual" circumstances. Moreover, the pandemic's political implications have upended individual politicians and political institutions as citizens and politicos alike struggle to find the "new normal." Despite the strange and difficult social climates, Woodfin, however has endured.
The mayor, by many accounts, has weathered well the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic well, guiding city and federal resources to provide support for medical professionals as well as for residents. Woodfin's leadership was also tested as the city experienced police brutality protests and public outrage over Confederate monuments, but the mayor emerged with newfound support from citizens and an agenda focused on reforming law enforcement. Additionally, Woodfin helped steer top-tier corporate talent to the city, poaching startups from places like New York City and Silicon Valley.
With Woodfin at the helm, Birmingham's positive evolution and growth has been readily apparent to anyone paying attention. Few were shocked to see the mayor keep his seat.
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Colvin for Our 360 News)
Although Woodfin had already been projected to win re-election with at least 50% of the vote, many political observers were surprised that his numbers exceeded expectations, and significantly so. With a crowded field of 7 other mayoral candidates, virtually no one anticipated that the incumbent mayor would garner such a large share of the vote at 64%.
According to unofficial results, Woodfin won with a vote haul of 23,616. Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales finished second with 7,625 votes, netting her 20.77% of ballots cast. William Bell, the former mayor of Birmingham, placed third in the race with 3,354 votes, accounting for 9.14% of votes tallied. Chris Woods, a businessman and former city worker, came in 4th place, earning 1,562 votes or 4.26% of ballots cast. Each of the other four candidates failed to earn more than 1% of the vote.
A People's Campaign
In the world of political elections, no single aspect of a campaign’s strategy is greater than the campaign itself. Woodfin’s multi-pronged approach to voter engagement gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents during this election season. From deploying a blitz of volunteers knocking on doors, making phone calls, and offering poll rides to in-depth social media outreach and a whopping $1.7 million in fundraising, Woodfin’s team kept the incumbent and his accomplishments at the forefront of voter’s minds throughout the campaign season.
As he mentioned in his victory speech, Woodfin's core campaign team took great care of everyone involved in the mayor's re-election effort. Full time staffers received health insurance, paid time off, and other fringe benefits making for a loyal, engaged, and appreciative base of supporters. The campaign's outreach efforts to often marginalized groups gave Woodfin and additional boost as well. For instance, Woodfin enjoyed enthusiastic support from Birmingham's LGBTQ+ community, a group that many other candidates either ignored altogether or failed to effectively engage.
Perhaps the biggest flex from the Woodfin campaign was the voter engagement ground game. In a feat of coordination, endurance, and faith in their candidate, Woodfin's team knocked on the doors of roughly 80,000 residents, up from 50,000 during his first attempt to serve as Birmingham's mayor.
“Now, four years ago I ran for mayor because I told each and every person in this room...that we deserve better. I told you all four years ago that we would put people first. And every single day that’s what we’ve done. I made a commitment to the citizens of Birmingham that we would invest in our neighborhoods [and] that we would invest in our people. And so it was important that when we knocked on the 50,000 doors, I told the team that whatever we do to get to the dance, we need to do the same thing when we get on the dance floor. So this time we knocked on over 80,000 doors,” beamed Woodfin in his victory speech.
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Colvin for Our 360 News)
“You told us to invest in your neighborhoods, and we did. You told us to pave more streets and we did. You told us to tear down this blight and we did. You told us to invest in our younger generation and we did with the Birmingham Promise,” Woodfin said.
The Future of Birmingham
Now that the election is over, Mayor Woodfin can continue the work of executing his future plan for Birmingham, dubbed Vision 2025. Woodfin's approach to a better city revolves around a four-pronged plan, which may sound familiar to Birmingham residents since it builds upon the framework for progress already established by the young mayor. Woodfin's plan includes the following:
Investing in Our People
Re-imaginnig Public Safety
Renewing Our Commitment to Neighborhoods
Realizing Our Economic Potential
Only time will tell how far Woodfin will go during his second term and expectations are high for his administration. Whether the pressure of another four years is felt or not, Woodfin's parting words in his victory speech definitely offered hope, re-assurance, and thanks to residents of the city.
“I also want you to know, that my commitment and sense of urgency will be the same over the next four years. Thank you for this opportunity to continue to represent you. Thank you for this opportunity to continue to lead our city. And thank you for this opportunity to be in the trenches with you to make the city of Birmingham better.”