By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Two incumbents and two newcomers are vying for seats in the Birmingham runoff elections for City Council held on Oct. 5. The polls open at 7 a.m.
In district 4, incumbent council president William Parker will face activist J.T. Moore. Parker garnered, 1,501 votes, or 41.9 percent, of the vote in the district, while Moore received 830 votes, or 23.1 percent, in the August 24 general election.
In district, 9, Incumbent John Hilliard is facing Alabama Justice Initiative CEO LaTonya Tate. Hilliard received 2,212 votes, or 49.2 percent, of the vote last month while Tate received 1,320, or 29.3 percent.
Parker, a former state Rep. for Alabama District 59, said he wants to secure more funding for the district, including from the $53.1 million American Rescue Plan money the city received from the federal government. Cooperation with the mayor’s office is an important part of this goal, he said.
“My job is to continue to advocate for the residents of district 4, but a lot of that is in the purview of the mayor…we have got to have the cooperation of the mayor’s office,” Parker said. “I’m a strong advocate for residents in my district.”
Moore, the 33-year-old Woodlawn Coordinator for Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham, said he relates to issues in his district.
“I truly do care about their concerns because their concerns are mine,” he said. “I live in the district. The same issues that they have, I have them too, so it’s not something that is far off to me…I go through the same things.”
Hilliard, a former a state Rep. for Alabama District 60, said his work as chair of the council’s Economic Development committee, and projects in his district like getting funding for One Pratt Park are crucial to his success. Just after the general election, Hilliard said he was ready to fight for a second term.
“I got my tennis shoes on, and I’m ready to run and do everything I have to do and use every resource at my fingertips to make it happen,” he said.
Tate said her experience with the Alabama Justice Initiative and her ability to listen to residents make her the best candidate for the district.
“We’ve got to listen to what the people are saying in these neighborhoods and make sure we’re pushing their agenda and just staying true to who I am, an advocate, a person that is willing to fight,” Tate said. “I think I showed that in this race, that I’m a true fighter.”
Incumbent William Parker
Parker, the current Council President, was initially appointed to the seat to replace Maxine Parker, his mother, after her death on November 12, 2013, but he also won in a special election held in 2014. During his mother’s tenure on the council, Parker served as an aide. Parker currently serves as the chair for the council’s Committee of the Whole; Parks, Recreation, Cultural Arts and Tourism; Planning and Zoning and Census 2020 Committees. In 1998, Parker was elected to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives for district 59 after Lewis Spratt retired. Prior to his election to the state house, Parker had served as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Earl Hilliard. He has led weekly COVID-19 town halls and spearheaded a number of council vaccination drives. Parker graduated from Talladega College in 1994, with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Residence: Birmingham (Collegeville)
Political experience: Birmingham city councilor, District 4, 2013-present; Alabama State Representative, District 59, 1998-2002
Professional experience: Former aide to the late Councilor Maxine Parker and a legislative aide to former U.S. Rep. Earl Hilliard
Education: Talladega College, 1994
Significant endorsements: None reported
Top contributors: None reported
Main Issues: N/A
Challenger Jonathan “JT” Moore
Birmingham City Council, District 4
Residence: Birmingham (South Woodlawn)
Political races: None
Political experience: None
Professional experience: Woodlawn coordinator, Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham, 2019-present; manager of community partnerships, Woodlawn Foundation, 2018-19; Teen Center coordinator/programs manager/clubhouse director, A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club, 2012-18; blueprints mentor, Alabama Possible, 2011-12
Civic experience: I3 Academy Young Professional, 2020-present; Words on Wheels Bus, 2019-present
Education: UAB, 2012-14; University of West Alabama, 2007-08; Tuskegee University, 2006-07
Significant endorsements: None reported
Top contributors: Self, Loan, $1,088.09; Dominique Carreker, $1,000; Daniel Edwards, $700
Main Issues: Restoring power to citizens; building synergy among citizens through Neighborhood Association, equipping them with information, and working with them to address the issues in their neighborhoods; addressing public safety issues by developing block watches that partner with police and issue specific nonprofit organizations to make significant impact in communities; taking responsibility for establishing ways to promote pride in the district through beautification, celebrating both individuals and blocks within neighborhoods that showcase pride in the pride; finding ways to make it easier for residents to acquire vacant lots through the Land Bank Authority; working to establish a dedicated entertainment space for young people.
Incumbent John Hilliard, first elected in 2017, is a resident of Pratt City, and prior to his election served as Alabama’s representative for district 60 from 1993 to 2003. Currently, Hilliard serves as the council’s chair of the Economic Development Committee and a member of the Governmental Affairs and Public Information, Planning and Zoning and Transportation Committees. In addition to his work with the council and state House of Representatives, Hilliard has been a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee for more than 20 years. A graduate of Parker High School, Hilliard received a bachelor’s in business administration from Alabama State University.
Residence: 1725 Castleberry Way Birmingham
Political races: Birmingham City Council District 9, 2017; Alabama Legislature, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010
Political experience: Birmingham City Council District 9, 2017-present; Alabama State Representative, House District 60, 1993-2003
Professional experience: Private business owner, in real estate and bonding
Civic experience: State Democratic Executive Committee, 20 years; delegate to two presidential conventions; Jefferson County Citizens Coalition and foster care and youth organizations
Education: Alabama State University, bachelor’s degree in business administration management; A.H. Parker High School
Significant endorsements: None listed
Top contributors: Millennials PAC, $4,000; Richard Schmalz, $2,000; Southern Strategy Group PAC, $1,500; Blount Equipment Services LLC, $1,500; Anthony Ifediba, $1,500
Main Issues: Promote public safety, education and economic development in the neighborhoods; support funding of community policing initiatives and improving schools to tackle public safety and economic development issues; ensure that the City Council budgets more money Birmingham City Schools and funds after-school programs that prepare students for career opportunities; bring retail businesses and recruit new industrial jobs to District 9; work to make it possible for residents to take ownership of vacant homes and vacant lots and revitalize the community from within
Tate, a resident of North Birmingham, worked for more than 15 years in the health care industry in Jefferson County. Currently, Tate serves as CEO and executive director for the Alabama Justice Initiative, which she founded in 2018. Tate also worked as a probation and parole officer with the Florida Department of Corrections. She completed the Emerge Alabama program, which trains progressive women to run for office, in 2020, and Tate is also a current member of both Alabamians for Fair Justice and Alabama Forward. Tate became a licensed practical nurse from Bevill State Community College, holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration and security from the University of Phoenix and Tate holds a master’s in public administration and policy from Grand Canyon University.
Residence: Birmingham (North Birmingham)
Political races: None
Political experience: None
Professional experience: Probation and parole officer, Florida Department of Corrections, 2006-14; Jefferson County Department of Health, 2001-07
Civic experience: Community activist, voter registration
Education: B.S. in criminal justice administration and security, M.S. in criminal justice administration, University of Phoenix; M.S. in public administration/government and policy, Grand Canyon University
Significant endorsements: Elect Black Women PAC, Building Bridges for America
Top contributors: Jon Love, $500; Elizabeth Shannon, $311.84; Maurice Tate, $208.30; Pat Vandermeer, $208.30
Main Issues: Invest in community programs working to help restore rights of formerly incarcerated individuals and connect them with new job training as well as educational and mentoring opportunities to ensure their success long-term; work with community organizations and activists to create a comprehensive violence reduction initiative that addresses mental health and socioeconomic contributing factors to gun violence; create a fines and fees program for citizens who owe unpaid costs due to their inability to pay; introduce a Ban the Box Initiative; work with grassroots organizations on voter restoration/rights to register and educated formerly incarcerated individuals of their right to vote