by Daniel Morales
Mayor Randall Woodfin’s policy decisions are at odds with the way he originally marketed himself to the people of Birmingham; he is acting seemingly more centrist in practice than he ran on being.
Woodfin ran his 2017 mayoral campaign on fighting for single-payer healthcare and promising Birmingham residents to improve infrastructure. He was even endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Like Sanders, Woodfin embraced more progressive policies in his 2017 campaign — especially for Alabama, a state that hasn’t given electoral college votes to a democrat since 1976.
Unfortunately, Woodfin has been struggling to keep many of his voters pleased in recent years as he moves toward the political center. In 2020, he announced a multimillion-dollar tax cut on the Birmingham Public Library system, which provides invaluable resources to educate and uplift members of the city.
In tandem with the library budget cut, Woodfin also announced his plan to increase the Birmingham police budget from $93 million to $104 million. This came amidst calls to defund the police following the death of George Floyd. With this change, many community organizers and activists have expressed their outrage.
Eric Hall, co-founder of the Birmingham chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, said to The Appeal, “At a time when most of the nation was crying out to defund the police, our mayor was actually increasing the policing budget.”
By increasing the police budget Woodfin has taken a surprising stance, one that typically defies the progressive ideals he seemed to embody when he first ran.
Jefferson County residents are dealing with illiteracy at an exorbitant rate, with 56% of fourth graders not being proficient in reading. In a community that is grappling with homelessness and lower than average literacy rates, cutting resources and funds associated with The Birmingham Public Library is very counterintuitive.
Woodfin appears to be abandoning the progressive platform that he ran upon. Many argue this is to pander to those in Alabama who believe that a stronger police force is necessary to combat crime.
These policy decisions made by Mayor Woodfin echo a larger trend in not only the democratic party, but American society. Many progressives are afraid to embrace leftist policies, due to many voters in the United States identifying as neither far left or far right. Unfortunately, even Woodfin is not immune to this, even going on record to say, “I support a lot of things on the left, but if I’m being real, I also believe you gotta win.”
Mayor Woodfin is currently running for reelection in Birmingham in order to secure a second term. With these new policy decisions, it will be interesting to see how voting tallies change from where they were in 2017.