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The People Speak: What do citizens hope the new city council and mayor accomplish in the next four years?

Hundreds of revelers gathered outside city hall, the crowd stretching out into Linn Park, as Mayor Randall Woodfin was sworn in on Tuesday afternoon. Members of the Birmingham City Council stood beside the mayor as he gave remarks about inclusion and the cooperative spirit he hopes to bring with him into office.

There was a hopeful air sweeping through the crowd as a crisp fall breeze shook leaves loose from the trees, raining them down like a natural confetti during the inauguration. As the celebration came to a close, we set out to ask people in the crowd one simple question: What would you like to see both the mayor and the city council accomplish in the next four years?

Rob Burton

For me one of the big things I’d like to see is more of an investment into initiatives that would work toward poverty alleviation by using community-based economics to do it. For example seeing a program that could potentially be passed that would reform the economic development department that could make loans more accessible to small businesses and not just large $100,000 plus loans with short pay off times. I’d like us to look more innovation that’s being done in other cities so we can invest in those types of initiatives here that would address poverty, blight and food deserts.

 

Verna Baker

I’m interested in revitalization taking place in the neighborhoods. Downtown has already seen this happen. I think the communities need a lot of work. A lot of the areas, particularly in the black neighborhoods, a lot of them look like Beirut. They’ve been so neglected for so long it’s time for them to make a change in those neighborhoods. That’s my main concern.

I’m hopeful. I have a good feeling about Woodfin and I think they’re going to bend over backwards to be able to make this happen and work together.

 

James Parker

I’d like to see the people who are city councilors and the mayor do what they say they are going to do. Usually when they come out and promising this and that, they don’t really follow through when they get elected. I’m not necessarily talking about any of the current people, but just in general, that’s usually what happens. I’m optimistic that the new council and the new mayor will take things in a different direction. Not to say the previous mayor didn’t do good things, because he did and so did Richard Arrington and Bernard Kincaid. But we’re going to a new level. I just want to see the council come together and work with the new mayor as opposed to working against each other.

 

Virginia Volker

I live in Crestwood South. I think we need to keep the momentum going and keep trying ways to bring people back to the city. I think getting hold on the quality of life here by making sure every person feels included. I think Randall Woodfin has that attitude and if we can transfer that to the whole city government, I think it will go a long way.

I think that message of inclusiveness is going to be critical moving forward. It can be done. I’d like to see them work on ways to improve the wages in the city, improving schools and reducing crime. I’m a neighborhood officer. You know what neighborhood people like? Getting their streets paved! That’s the biggest complaint I hear.

I’d like to see the city council continue to work together. I think they do work together more than the Birmingham News told us. I think that’s bologna. They do the same thing to the school board. I think this is a key remark that Mayor Woodfin said today that I think we all, the council included needs to reflect on. He said, “History gives us a platform to stand on.” I think that is key because we all need to be standing on that platform together. I get philosophical, but it’s important because people need to see the Birmingham that I love.

 

Richard Arrington

I expect the city will continue to grow under the new leadership of the council and the mayor. I’m expecting great things from them.

 

This article is a contribution from Cody Owens in the Birmingham City Council Office of Public Information. For more information contact him at cody.owens@birminghamal.gov or (205) 254-2294.