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William Bell on Whether He Plans Another Run for Birmingham Mayor

Former Birmingham mayor William Bell after finishing third in the 2021 municipal elections. (Frank Couch, For The Birmingham Times)
The Birmingham Times

Former Birmingham mayor William Bell finished third in the 2021 Birmingham Mayor’s race with 3,354 votes or 9.14 percent. Randall Woodfin was re-elected to his second term with 23,616 votes or 64.33 percent. Here are excerpts of what Bell told supporters on election night at his headquarters at the Heritage Town Center southwest Birmingham.

Bell: “First of all let me express my deep, deep, deep appreciation for all of the people who worked in my campaign, all of the people who got out and voted for me today, and all of the support that I’ve received down through the years. I’m just truly grateful for the love that people have shown me as I made this…electoral journey. I want to congratulate the mayor, to let him know that Birmingham is a great place it just needs encouragement for people to come and prosper and grow. We all need to work together to solve our problems in the streets, violent crime, we need to work together to bring resources to the city so that we can grow the city as it needs to be…I want Birmingham to succeed regardless of who the mayor is and Mayor Woodfin…has our prayers and we look forward to whatever we can do to assist him and move the city forward.

“What’s next? Sleep. Will I run again for mayor? I learned never to say never. Right now, my only concern is to spend time with my family, in particular my grandboys – all four of them – and to reconnect there. Any decision beyond tonight, I’d just be talking. I don’t know what the future holds. I know I’m happy from a family standpoint, I’m happy from a business standpoint, and we’ll just see what the future holds.

“I learned a lot about Birmingham during the campaign: it has changed, the demographics have changed a lot – that’s neither good nor bad – it’s just changed. And…what I also saw was that I was the architect of that change. When you look at the growth and the downtown living with the apartments that [are] there, when you look at the amenities that have been bought to the city – all of that was done under my administration, [2010-2017] and it caused the change. We’ve got to embrace that change and look to how we can harness it to build an economic base that’s rival to none. I wish Birmingham could have gotten a billion dollars like Huntsville did for the FBI center that they’re building…I wish we could get millions of dollars for a port facility like Mobile gets, I wish we could get Airbus and all these other companies to come here, but Birmingham is a very unique city, it’s a historical city and we need to build upon our [positives] and not be so concerned about the negatives that are out there. But if we embrace those things and we do well, I think Birmingham will do well in the future itself.

“I wouldn’t have done anything differently during the campaign. I realized it was climbing up a mountain…but it was so many people – when my arms got tired they lifted me up, when my legs got weary they gave me a quick boot in the butt … I’ve learned perseverance and that’s always a good trait to have regardless of what the odds are you still move forward. And Birmingham is a strong city, regardless of what the odds are against Birmingham we have to still move forward.

“As for a message to my supporters, just thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve had a long, long run in the political arena and I have no regrets…I have no ill feelings toward anyone, I think I had one strand of gray hair when I was first elected to office and I’ve seen a lot, I’ve learned a lot and I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to serve.”

Quotes compiled by freelancer Ameera Steward