Borrowing a page from President Barack Obama election playbook, Randall Woodfin, 36, a school board member and city prosecutor, on Tuesday won Birmingham, Alabama’s mayoral election by connecting with young voters. One of his big pledges was to do away with business as usual politics.
Woodfin, the city’s youngest mayor, unseated Democratic veteran, Mayor William Bell, 68, in a nonpartisan runoff election, according to The Huffington Post. Both men are Black.
“Woodfin won because he got out the younger vote. He pounded the pavement and knocked on doors,” Vince Gawronski, a political science professor at Birmingham-Southern College, told The Huffington Post. “With Woodfin winning, he proved that Birmingham is a much more forward and cosmopolitan place.”
On the election trail, Woodfin vowed to revitalize and make neighborhoods safe and secure. After this week’s domestic terror attacks in Las Vegas, the issue of safety likely resonated with voters.
“With 104 homicides, 2016 was one of the most violent years in Birmingham’s recent history— the first time that number has exceeded 100 in more than a decade,” Woodfin said in a post on his campaign website.
He also pledged to support the city’s minority and women-owned businesses. While the nation is recovering from the great recession, business owners of color have struggled to regain a footing in the new economic cycle.
“Birmingham’s small businesses drive our local economy,” he website. “Minority and women-owned businesses are fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs nationally and locally, and the City has to do more to support our minority and women-owned businesses.”
He also supports raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and plans to do the same for city employees.
Indeed, Woodfin represents the new breed of politician Democrats and progressives need to win upcoming elections against Republicans, who in recent years have gained control of statehouses and city governments across the nation, consolidating their power up to the White House.
He was backed by national progressive groups, including the Working Families Party and Our Revolution, the legacy organization of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, the Huffing Post wrote. Sanders endorsed Woodfin and recorded a robocall for him the report notes. And like Sanders, Woodfin is an advocate for transparency amid allegations of influence peddling.
“We need a City Hall that makes us proud again, and you have my word that you won’t have to guess how your tax dollars are spent or who is seeking to influence my office – it will all be available online,” he said in a September 29 online statement.
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