By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Randall Woodfin, Birmingham native, school board member and attorney, who became the first candidate to announce his run for mayor of Birmingham nearly a year ago, defied polls and skeptics on Tuesday to capture 41 percent of the vote to force incumbent mayor William A. Bell Sr. into an Oct. 3 runoff.
With 99 percent of the vote counted, unofficial election results showed Woodfin received 15,656 votes, 41 percent; Bell, 14,011 votes, 37 percent and Chris Woods, 6,957 or 18 percent.
The race drew 12 candidates.
The results stunned most political observers who had Bell well ahead in some polls with as much as 55 percent of the vote. However, Woodfin was undaunted and said on election morning he had knocked on 37,000 doors since announcing his candidacy in late August of 2016.
“We need a vision and a workable plan that lifts the entire city. I believe that I am the person to get the job done,” Woodfin, 36, said.
The run-off election day is scheduled for Tues. Oct. 3 for the two mayoral candidates and also for those in the City Council and Board of Education races who didn’t claim a majority – 50 percent of the votes in their race plus one.
Woodfin’s message of change and inclusion appeared to resonate with a number of younger voters. Steven Simmons, who lives in West End, said he was impressed by Woodfin’s campaign videos. “I liked the way he was talking . . . the younger people understand him and knows where he is coming from,” Simmons said. “He was trying to make that connection with them. I just think Woodfin will be the best pick.
Jason McDermott, of Birmingham, said Woodfin “represents change. He is more modern and contemporary. He appeals to the younger generation because the younger generation is the future and that’s what I’m about. Where the city needs to go I think Randall has a better vision and can take us in that direction.”
Meanwhile, Bell seeking a second consecutive full term, told supporters at the Four Seasons Bar and Grill to get ready for another six weeks of campaigning.
“We’re going to focus on what the real issues are … let’s get rested, let’s get ready and we’re going to rock and roll to victory,” he said.
Bell, 68, had his share of supporters, too.
Joyce Hoskins, who lives in the Riley-Powderly community, said she was solidly behind the mayor. “I have to give him credit. A lot of things have been changed. When it comes to Birmingham downtown I ride the bus and you have the new [intermodal transit station] he has put in. And I like that.”
In the Birmingham City Council races, six incumbents won outright.
Incumbent Lashunda Scales defeated challenger Sherman Collins Jr.
Hunter Williams and incumbent Kimberly Rafferty are headed to a runoff.
Incumbent Valerie Abbott won outright against Ryan Jones and Rowan Henderson.
Incumbent William Parker won outright against Mary Lamay, Qunelius Pettway, Sergio Williams.
Incumbent Johnathan Austin and Darrell O’Quinn are headed into a runoff. The race also included Dorothea Crosby; Christopher Davis; Erica Robbins; Jeremy Schatz and Robert Walker.
Incumbent Shelia Tyson won outright against Keith Mims and Keith Williams.
Incumbent Jay Roberson won outright against Hosea Lewis, Lonnie Malone, Jeffrey Rowser and Titus Battle.
Incumbent Steven Hoyt won outright against Gerri Robinson, Lynette Peters and Adlai Trone.
In a bid to replace incumbent Marcus Lundy who decided not to run again Roderick Royal and John Hilliard will meet in a runoff. The race also included Angene Coleman; Eric Hall; Wendell Major; David Russell; Reginald Swanson and James Williams Jr.