I don’t vote in Birmingham, but what happens in Birmingham certainly affects us all, and I want progress in that city just as I want it in Bessemer.
Birmingham is mired in the same vestigial racial quagmire left over from the 60’s that Bessemer is. Real or imagined race baiting takes place during every election cycle, and the current race for mayor is no different.
Bishop Calvin Woods, a familiar face in Bessemer, was all over the news yesterday and today criticizing an editorial cartoon by Scott Stantis that originally (online) showed Patrick Cooper with a “honky” sign on his back, later changed to signs with “white” and “republican.”
Tom Scarritt, editor of The Birmingham News, said “Our only agenda is to report the news. We strive to do that fairly.”
But while the leaders and wanna be leaders of the city throw racial insults around, the voters have already shown us that they are above this. Patricia Todd, a white woman in a predominately black district, received the most votes in an election for state house representative last year in both the election and a hotly contested runoff, where both race and sexuality were used in an attempt to sway voters.
As younger people become voters, and see how the attitudes of the past impede progress, more people are focusing on issues and solutions rather than listening to name calling and fear tactics.
Patrick Cooper is the only serious candidate who stands a chance of making a change in Birmingham. The other front runners have been around too long, and could be thought of as part of the problem (so how can they be part of the solution?).
I like Cooper’s thoughts on blighted houses. Because of a 2002 law the city can buy them for less than the tax lien owed, and then give them to residents (not developers) who agree to restore them or build a new home and live on the land for at least three years.
Kincaid and Langford want to bring “developers” into the equation, meaning someone is making a profit, and the restored or new homes would have to be sold, so may sit vacant for months. Criminals would love a new fresh vacant house in which to stage dog fights and make and sell crack, wouldn’t they?
It is better to give the property to someone who would live there from day one after completion (or sometimes, while restoration is ongoing).
For reasons not to consider voting for Langford see Langford's Greatest Hits .
The other race on the ballot is Birmingham Board of Education District 3, in which Mike Higginbotham resigned in August leaving the seat open.
Political newbies Howard Bayless and Earnest Lumpkin are competing for the position.
Lumpkin’s major issues seem to be parental involvement, having more qualified teachers and more trade schools.
Bayless seems concerned with public trust and transparency, and the lack of a vision or strategic plan for the system. He also wants the school system to stop playing the blame game with the city, and realizes that a poor school system will not attract businesses or people. “When we have schools that create hope and inspire kids, we will see the tables turn.”
Education is very important, for obvious reasons, but these races rarely bring excitement to the election process. I say vote for Howard Bayless for District 3 BOE.
One other election that is generating a lot of buzz is the upcoming race for House District 2 in Alabama where Republican Terry Everett is retiring. This district is in south Alabama, from Montgomery down through the Wiregrass and Dothan.
For the buzz, check out the Daily Dixie and scroll up or down to read the post and comments that follow it. While many of these names are unfamiliar to those of us in North Alabama, it looks to be a crowded field, and will make elections in Alabama even more interesting in 2008.
Vote in Birmingham Tuesday October 9.