Randall Woodfin

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Randall Woodfin
Randall Woodfin - 2019.jpg
34th Mayor of Birmingham
Assumed office
November 28, 2017
Preceded byWilliam A. Bell
Personal details
Born (1981-05-29) May 29, 1981 (age 39)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationMorehouse College (BA)
Samford University (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Randall Woodfin (born May 29, 1981) is an American lawyer and politician who is the 34th and current mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, after winning the October 3, 2017, runoff against incumbent William A. Bell.[1] He previously served as the President of the Birmingham City School Board (2013–2015) and as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Birmingham from 2009–2017.

Early life and education[edit]

Woodfin was born and raised in Birmingham's North Birmingham and Crestwood neighborhoods. He attended North Birmingham Elementary School, Putnam Middle School, and Shades Valley High School.[2]

Woodfin attended Morehouse College, where he majored in political science and served as president of Student Government Association.[3] Woodfin went on to earn his J.D. degree from the Samford University Cumberland School of Law.[4]


Woodfin in October 2017.

Between college and law school, Woodfin worked for the Birmingham City Council, the Mayor's Office Division of Youth Services, and the Jefferson County Committee on Economic Opportunity.[5]

Woodfin unsuccessfully ran for the Birmingham Board of Education's District 3 seat in 2009, placing third in a four-person race.[6]

In 2009, Woodfin became an assistant city attorney for the City of Birmingham, a position he held until being elected mayor in 2017.[7]

In 2013, Woodfin again ran for a seat on the school board, this time successfully.[8] He was appointed president of the board two months after being elected;[9] he held that position until 2015 and remained on the board until 2017.[10]

Woodfin has also served as a board member of other community organizations, including the Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. He is a former board member of Birmingham Change Fund, American Red Cross, Birmingham Education Foundation, Birmingham Cultural Alliance, S.T.A.I.R., and past President of the Birmingham chapter of the Morehouse College Alumni Association. Woodfin is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham class of 2014, Leadership Alabama class of 2016, and served as a featured speaker at TEDx Birmingham 2017.

Woodfin served as the Alabama state director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.[11]

2017 mayoral campaign[edit]

Woodfin announced his run for Birmingham mayor in August 2016, challenging incumbent candidate William Bell along with 10 other candidates.[12] In the general election, held on August 22, 2017, Woodfin won 40% of the vote, triggering a runoff election with Bell, who placed second. Woodfin won the October 3 runoff with 58.95% of the vote, becoming the city's youngest mayor in over 120 years.[13]

During the campaign, Woodfin criticized Bell's failure to improve Birmingham residents' quality of life[14] and promised to focus his administration on revitalization of the city's 99 neighborhoods.[15]

Bell criticized Woodfin for receiving out-of-state contributions during the campaign; Woodfin argued that it was the only way to combat the incumbent candidate's sizable local donor base.[16]

Woodfin received support from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who recorded a robo-call telling voters that Woodfin would fight for Medicare for All. Our Revolution President Nina Turner visited Birmingham twice to campaign for Woodfin.[17]


Woodfin speaks at a town hall meeting in January 2019.

Woodfin promised throughout the campaign to conduct a forensic audit on city finances,[18] but upon taking office instead conducted a performance audit.[19]

In March 2018, Woodfin's transition committee announced it had discovered that the city's pension fund had been consistently underfunded for more than 15 years, endangering the city's credit rating and retirement benefits for thousands of city employees.[20] Woodfin increased funding to the pension fund by $2.9 million in the city's 2019 budget, and by $5.2 million in the city's 2020 budget — which Woodfin's administration claimed fully met the city's obligation to the fund for the first time in more than a decade.[21]

Woodfin's administration has drawn criticism for a perceived lack of transparency, with AL.com columnist Kyle Whitmire calling Woodfin's attempts to block public information requests "stalling and stonewalling" and a violation of his campaign promises to increase transparency.[22]

Woodfin endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, despite having received Bernie Sanders' endorsement during his 2017 mayoral race. Woodfin cited Biden's ability to "make sure down-ballot candidates can win" as a primary reason for his endorsement.[23][24]

Neighborhood Revitalization[edit]

In his first two years in office, Woodfin budgeted $13 million for street resurfacing, $2.5 million toward clearing overgrown lots, and $6.5 million toward demolishing dilapidated structures.[25] Woodfin has argued that his predecessor's policy regarding urban blight was "not as aggressive as it needed to be" and that it would be a "priority" for his administration.[26]


Birmingham's high violent crime rate was a central plank of Woodfin's campaign platform; his nephew, Ralph Woodfin III, was shot and killed in August 2017, just weeks before the general election.[27]

Shortly after Woodfin took office in November 2017, Birmingham Police Department Chief A.C. Roper announced his resignation.[28] After a lengthy search, Woodfin appointed former Los Angeles Police Department commander Patrick D. Smith to the position.[29]

In 2019, Woodfin's administration unveiled a public service announcement campaign titled "PEACE" featuring 30-second videos of mothers of gun violence victims telling their stories.[30]

The city's homicide rate has stayed approximately the same since Woodfin took office; the city logged 117 homicides in 2017, 110 in 2018, and 112 in 2019.[31] Woodfin has maintained that total violent crime has dropped in the city during his tenure, and points to the police department's removal of thousands of guns from the streets.[32]

Several high-profile gun deaths — high-schooler Courtlin Arrington, 4-year-old Jurnee Coleman, Kamille "Cupcake" McKinney, and Sgt. Wytasha Carter — happened during Woodfin's first two years in office.[33]

Food Deserts[edit]

One of Woodfin's early campaign promises was to address food deserts in the city.[34]


Along with the Birmingham City Council, Woodfin's administration passed a $15 million COVID-19 response plan in March 2020, allocating extra money for first responders' personal protective equipment, allocating overtime pay, and placing $1 million in a small business emergency loan fund.[35] Woodfin also urged the council to pass a "shelter-in-place" ordinance on March 24, which has been extended through the end of April 2020.[36]

Confederate monuments[edit]

Woodfin ordered the removal of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park, Birmingham. The Alabama Attorney General has filed suit against the city of Birmingham for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.[37]

Political views[edit]

Woodfin identifies as a political moderate. In a 2019 interview with The Root, Woodfin argued that "being a moderate does not equal status quo... I support a lot of things on the left but—if I’m being real—I also believe you gotta win."[38]

Woodfin has politically been compared to Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, another Our Revolution-backed candidate elected in 2017.[39][40]

Personal life[edit]

Woodfin grew up with three siblings; his older brother Ralph was killed by gun violence in 2011. Woodfin's nephew Ralph Woodfin III was killed in August 2017.[41]

Woodfin is single and identifies as Christian. He attends Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham. He is a fan of Mannie Fresh, Dr. Dre, The Neptunes, and Big K.R.I.T..[42]


  1. ^ "Randall Woodfin wins Birmingham mayor's race: What they're saying nationally". AL.com. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  2. ^ magazine, Birmingham (2018-07-09). "Get to know Birmingham's millennial mayor". al. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  3. ^ Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This Morehouse alum just became the youngest mayor of Birmingham in modern history". ajc.
  4. ^ "ABOUT RANDALL". randallwoodfin. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  5. ^ "ABOUT RANDALL". randallwoodfin. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  6. ^ "Birmingham Board of Education: 4 new faces vie for District 3". al. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  7. ^ "ABOUT RANDALL". randallwoodfin. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  8. ^ staff, AL com (2013-08-28). "Birmingham election results: See who won mayor, City Council and school board elections". al. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  9. ^ "New leadership for Birmingham board of education". al. 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  10. ^ "New leadership for Birmingham board of education". al. 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  11. ^ Editor-at-large, Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN. "A Sanders-backed candidate was elected mayor in the south". CNN. Retrieved 2020-04-13.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Assistant city attorney to run for mayor". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  13. ^ magazine, Birmingham (2018-07-09). "Get to know Birmingham's millennial mayor". al. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  14. ^ "In Tuesday's Mayoral Runoff, Bell Touts Experience, Woodfin Pushes Change". WBHM 90.3. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  15. ^ "Randall Woodfin defeats William Bell in mayor's race". al. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  16. ^ Prickett, Sam (2017-09-12). "Woodfin: Bell's Fundraising Allegations Are 'False and Misleading'". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  17. ^ Post, The Washington (2017-10-04). "Randall Woodfin benefited from Bernie Sanders backing". al. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  18. ^ Prickett, Sam (2017-10-12). "First? Look at the Books: A Q&A With Birmingham's Next Mayor". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  19. ^ Prickett, Sam (2018-03-22). "A Work in Progress: Woodfin Assesses His First 100 Days". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  20. ^ Prickett, Sam (2018-04-16). "A Hole in the Balance Sheet: Birmingham's Impending Pension Crisis". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  21. ^ Prickett, Sam (2019-05-14). "Woodfin Highlights "Moral Obligations" of Proposed 2020 Budget". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  22. ^ "Whitmire: What's Randall Woodfin hiding?". al. 2019-09-06. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  23. ^ "Woodfin makes endorsement in 2020 Democratic presidential race". al. 2019-12-16. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  24. ^ "Exclusive: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin Endorses Joe Biden for President". The Root. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  25. ^ "How Woodfin grades himself at 2 years". al. 2019-11-24. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  26. ^ "With First Demolition, Woodfin Promises "Aggressive" Approach to Blight". BirminghamWatch. 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  27. ^ "Teen killed in Tarrant shooting was Birmingham mayoral candidate's nephew". AL.com. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  28. ^ Prickett, Sam (2017-11-29). "Police Chief A.C. Roper Retires as Mayor Woodfin Looks to Make Personnel Changes at City Hall". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  29. ^ Prickett, Sam (2018-06-04). "Birmingham Hires LA Commander to be New Police Chief". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  30. ^ "Mayor Woodfin unveils PEACE Campaign to counteract violent crime". The Official Website for the City of Birmingham, Alabama. 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  31. ^ "Birmingham homicides by year - Bhamwiki". www.bhamwiki.com. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  32. ^ Groover, Shilo. "Birmingham Mayor Woodfin gives State of the City address". WBRC. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  33. ^ "How Woodfin grades himself at 2 years". al. 2019-11-24. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  34. ^ Prickett, Sam (2017-10-12). "First? Look at the Books: A Q&A With Birmingham's Next Mayor". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  35. ^ "Mayor Woodfin's $15 million COVID-19 Response Plan Approved by the Birmingham City Council". www.birminghamal.gov. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  36. ^ Prickett, Sam (2020-03-24). "Birmingham Residents Ordered to Shelter in Place, Leave Home for Only the Most Essential Activities". BirminghamWatch. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  37. ^ "Alabama attorney general sues Birmingham for removing Confederate monument". al.com. June 2, 2020.
  38. ^ "Exclusive: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin Endorses Joe Biden for President". The Root. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  39. ^ Jilani, Zaid (2017-10-04). "Populists Are on the March in the South: Bernie-Backed Insurgent Randall Woodfin Defeats Birmingham's Incumbent Mayor". The Intercept. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  40. ^ Nave, R. L.; October 9, Mississippi Today; 2018 (2018-10-09). "Mayors Lumumba of Jackson, Woodfin of Birmingham dish on poverty solutions". Mississippi Today. Retrieved 2020-04-13.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ magazine, Birmingham (2018-07-09). "Get to know Birmingham's millennial mayor". al. Retrieved 2020-04-12.
  42. ^ magazine, Birmingham (2018-07-09). "Get to know Birmingham's millennial mayor". al. Retrieved 2020-04-12.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William A. Bell
Mayor of Birmingham