By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
It was a night of close calls for several national and local candidates in Tuesday’s 2020 General Election, but not for Birmingham attorney Ruby Y. Davis, who was making her first run for elected office.
Democrat challenger Davis received 55.07 percent, or 174,630 votes, to defeat Republican incumbent Judge Bentley Patrick who received 44.85 percent, or 142,227, votes in the race for Jefferson County District Court Judge, Place No. 7, according to unofficial election results.
Davis will begin a six-year term after taking office in January 2021 and serve in small claims court where she will hear cases concerning evictions, breach of contracts and car accident or personal injury cases as long as it does not exceed $20,000.
“Every day people will appear before this court because it is not criminal matters, it is civil so it is very important that the judge understands the people of the community,” she said.
In the Democratic primaries in March, Davis finished ahead of Terrika Shaw and Angeline J. Sperling, having received 55 percent of the vote then.
Davis, 40, who launched her campaign in October of last year, said she decided to run for the seat because it was an area of law that is her specialty. “I am familiar with the law practiced [in small claims court] and the cases that are brought there before that court I understand the citizens and what they would need when they appear. This seat spoke to me, I knew that it was my time and I wanted to run because I knew that I could make a difference for the community.”
The newly elected judge said voters found her relatable.
“I am a native of Birmingham, this is my home and so being involved, being in the community and being able to inform everyone… really made a difference because they found me relatable . . . Being able to inform the people and being transparent . . . I think that made a big difference.”
Davis and her volunteers built momentum ahead of the primaries and continued through the general election.
“I wanted to make sure that I was in the community, meeting people, explaining to them what the seat actually entails and what type of cases will appear before this court,” she said. “I needed the people to know what kind of person I was with me being a Birmingham native… I think that was the most important thing I learned in order to run for office… to inform the voters of the seat, the position and why I was running.”
The campaign slowed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.
“I wasn’t able to make much contact because before I would go to churches and explain the seat and why I was running but with the pandemic, I couldn’t go to churches anymore or have campaign events so I used my social media platforms over the last eight months to get the word out and the campaign team also used their social media platforms to push the word about the election.
Davis said she is ready for a “totally new chapter in my life. I have to master this position and I am excited about the next six years in serving the community of people that just overwhelmingly voted for me, so I am excited for this journey.”
Updated at 1:26 p.m. on 11/5/2020 with editing
Updated at 7:05 a.m. to include most recent election result numbers.
Click one of the links below to read more election results stories.