By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
A pair of political newcomers unseated incumbents in Tuesday’s Birmingham runoff elections giving the City Council a new look heading into the 2021-2025 term.
In District 4, J.T. Moore received 710 votes, or 58.44 percent, to oust incumbent Council president William Parker, who received 505 votes, or 41.56 percent.
In District 9, LaTonya Tate bested incumbent John Hilliard, receiving 987 votes, or 51.57 percent, to Hilliard’s 927 votes, or 48.43 percent.
The victory by Tate and Moore means they will join a panel with Councilor Carol Clarke in District 8, who won her first race in the August 24 general election, giving the nine-person council three new faces.
Moore and Tate described their victories as both “overwhelming” and “amazing” respectively.
In thanking his supporters, Moore said election night was “an overwhelming experience.”
“I’m just overjoyed and really in awe and thankful and grateful to each and every person in District Four that came out and voted for me,” Moore said. “I want send a special shout out to [former District 4 candidate] Cory Pettway, who made this possible with his endorsement.”
The keys to his victory were listening and “intentionality,” said Moore, who serves as the Woodlawn Coordinator for Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham.
“The focus for me was just going to the next door, knocking on the next door,” he said, “talking to the next citizen, making sure I was taking good notes, writing people’s concerns down, remembering people’s names, and I think that made all the difference.”
His first priority when seated is working with neighborhood associations and performing an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in the district, he said.
“I’m just excited about . . . getting more people involved in neighborhood associations, so we can actively engage folks and get these things addressed,” he said.
Tate, founder and CEO of the Alabama Justice Initiative, said “sending an incumbent home is just amazing. I didn’t have any doubt that it couldn’t be done. I just did it, and I really have to praise God because, without Him, none of this is possible.”
She said voters in her district responded to her “campaigning grassroots style, meeting people at their front doors, listening to what their concerns were and not going in promising anybody anything, just telling people, ‘We come here to listen, That’s how we’re going to lead, by listening.”
Her focus on the council is to form relationships with the other members of the body and the mayor to improve Birmingham “for all 99 neighborhoods,” she said.
Parker and Hilliard are both former state Reps. for District 59 and District 60, respectively and the irony is that they also both lost their House seats at the same time in the 2002 election.
Birmingham Board of Education
In the Board of Education runoff in District 1 the race was closer than the August 24 general election between incumbent Douglas Lee Ragland and challenger Sherman Collins Jr., when Collins came out ahead by 13 votes. On Tuesday, Collins came out ahead again, but this time by 9 votes. Collins received 394 votes or 50.68 percent to Ragland’s 385 votes or 49.42 percent.
In the District 9 runoff, Jason Meadows cruised to victory receiving 1,361 votes or 72.09 percent to La’Darius Hilliard’s 527 votes or 27.91.
JT Moore 710 58.44
William Parker (I) 505 41.56
LaTonya Tate 987 51.57
John Hilliard (I) 927 48.43
Birmingham Board of Education
Sherman Collins Jr. 394 50.68
Douglas Lee Ragland (I) 385 49.42
Jason Meadows 1,361 72.09
La’Darius Hilliard 527 27.91