Bernard Kincaid

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Bernard Kincaid

Bernard Kincaid (born June 5, 1945) was elected Mayor of Birmingham in 1999 and served two full terms before losing the office to Larry Langford in the 2007 Birmingham mayoral election.

Early life

Kincaid was born in the Birmingham neighborhood of Pratt City to a coal-miner. He began his political career early, being elected president of his fifth-grade class at South Pratt Elementary School. He graduated from Western-Olin High School in 1962 and received his undergraduate degree from Miles College in 1970, serving as SGA president during his senior year. He went on to earn an M.A. from Miami University in Ohio (1971), a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (1980), and a J.D from the Birmingham School of Law (1994). He served in the U. S. Air Force between 1962-65 and was given an honorable discharge.

From 1970-71, Kincaid served as a youth counselor for the Social Security Administration, after which he went to work for UAB, as an educational consultant, assistant professor and as assistant to the Dean of the School of Health Related Professions. In 1996 he signed a one-year contract to serve as Director of Development at Miles College. He was also chairman of the Metro Area Express bus system and used the position to attack misspending by the Birmingham City Council.

Political career

Kincaid was vice-president and later president of the Ensley HIghlands Neighborhood Association and vice-president of the Five Points West community. He ran against Roosevelt Bell in the 1993 Birmingham City Council election, losing by 31 votes. He and Emory Anthony founded People's Choice, a political organization aimed at challenging Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr's Jefferson County Citizens Coalition.

That same year, Kincaid lost a special Democratic Party election for Alabama House District 60, trailing by 15 votes against John Hilliard, whom he called a "puppet" of Arrington and Earl Hilliard. After the party disallowed his candidacy in the primary for breaking its "loyalty oath", he ran as an independent in the 1994 regular election, losing again to Hilliard.

In 1997 he was elected to represent District 8 in the Birmingham City Council. While on the council he was a frequent opponent of Arrington, especially his plan to sell the Birmingham Water Works assets to a private operator.

Kincaid wearing his "MAYOR" hat and a 205 Flava jersey

He ran for Mayor in the 1999 Birmingham mayoral election, barely making a runoff with interim-Mayor William Bell, and then upsetting him in a monumental defeat of Arrington's Citizens Coalition. As mayor, Kincaid earned a reputation as a serious, hard-working, detail-oriented administrator. He was criticized for studying proposals long past the time for action, but praised for his command of the intricacies of city business. He claimed credit for a renaissance in City Center development, but others said that much more would have been done if his administration had been more active. His relationship with the City Council was often strained, even after voters delivered a fresh slate of new faces in the 2001 Birmingham City Council election. The Council criticized him frequently for not providing information in a timely manner and for hoarding unfilled administrative positions as leverage in the annual budget process. He sued the council twice, once in an effort to halt a plan by William Bell to transfer Birmingham Water Works assets to the the Water Works Board and once to confirm his authority to set salaries for city employees after the council resolved to increase pay for Police and Firefighters.

Kincaid 2007.JPG

During the 2007 Birmingham mayoral election Kincaid campaigned with the slogan "Moving forward honestly," which touted his administration's lack of scandals and suggested that Kincaid's term of office saw the city progress. He touted downtown's resurgence as the first step toward comprehensive revitalization across the city. Kincaid's early campaign funding came overwhelmingly from one source, a political action committee backed by Donald Watkins and headed locally by Emory Anthony, both close associates of former mayor Richard Arrington, Jr.

In the election, Kincaid placed a distant third with 4,234 of the 52,111 votes case (8.12%). He left office satisfied with his accomplishments, but others concluded that it was his lack of accomplishments which made firebrand Larry Langford and his "Let's Do Something" slogan attractive to voters. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald ranked him in a November 2009 column as the city's worst mayor since 1963.

As mayor, Kincaid held positions on the boards of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, the Birmingham Racing Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Jefferson County Mayors Association, and the Alabama and National Conferences of Black Mayors. He has also served on the boards of various groups, including the Birmingham Sister City Commission, the Miles College Alumni Association and Booster Club, the Jefferson County Progressive Democratic Council, Glenwood Mental Health Services, the Birmingham Urban League, the Pratt-Ensley Kiwanis Club, and the Birmingham Partnership. Kincaid was also member of the Alabama delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

Preceded by:
Roosevelt Bell
Birmingham City Council District 8
Succeeded by:
Frank Adams Jr
Preceded by:
William Bell (interim)
Mayor of Birmingham
1999 - 2007
Succeeded by:
Larry Langford

Private life

Since July 2006 Kincaid has promoted the Get Healthy Birmingham campaign, co-sponsored by the UAB Minority Health & Research Center. Serving as an example to others he lost 30 pounds in the first year of the program.

After leaving office in 2007, Kincaid plans to retire from politics and to study for the Alabama State Bar. He is a member of the Metropolitan C.M.E. Church, Ensley and sings in the W. A. Baskerville Gospel Chorus. He is a member of American Legion, Post 1165 and of the Alabama Education Association and UAB Retired Employees Association.

Kincaid makes his home in Ensley. He is married to the former Alfreda Harris since New Year's Eve 1972 and has one daughter, Amy, born out of wedlock in 1992.

See also


  • Oliver-Miles, Zelda (May 23, 1993) "District 60 runoff endures last skirmishes." Birmingham News
  • Plott, Bill (July 15, 2007) "Hundreds WALK at Legion Field in city health event." Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (September 2, 2007) "Hopefuls have just weeks to win votes." Birmingham News
  • Wolfson, Hannah (September 17, 2007) "Kincaid cites growth, steady progress." Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (October 28, 2007) "Outgoing mayor at peace, proud of accomplishments." Birmingham News
  • Archibald, John (November 29, 2009) "Archibald: Ranking the mayors of the past." Birmingham News