Rafferty is a fifth-generation resident of Roebuck. She and her late husband Mark have two children: Jessica and Morgen. She has degrees in human resources and history from the University of Kentucky and UAB. Besides her rug shop she is involved in numerous volunteer efforts, including Meals on Wheels, the Birmingham Hospitality Network, Interfaith Hospitality House, and Wonder Book Camp.
Rafferty began her involvement in public service through the Roebuck Neighborhood Association, rising to the position of vice-president. She founded the community group Airport Neighbors United in 1999, and briefly worked as an assistant to City Councilor Carol Reynolds. She has been the chief polling inspector for the McElwain Baptist Church precinct and a delegate to the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform convention.
Rafferty was also involved with the Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society and chaired its first annual Earth Day festival at East Lake Park. She has served as an officer of the Parent-Teacher Association at her children's schools, helped organize the auction for the Alabama Environmental Council's Green Tie Affair, coached the Leeds Cap Ball Team, and directed programs for the We Care Circle of the United Methodist Women. For her service to the community, she was awarded a Sierra Club "Community Activist of the Year" recognition in 2002.
Rafferty challenged her former employer, then known as Carol Duncan, in the 2009 Birmingham City Council election. She ran on a platform of improving quality of life through support for community schools, streamlining citizen involvement, and mitigating the effects of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on neighborhoods. She finished first in the general election, but the seven candidates in the district split the votes such that she was forced into a runoff. During the runoff campaign she expressed the need for public investment and commercial development in the city's neighborhoods, including the demolition of dilapidated structures and the creation of new parks.
In late September flyers designed to look like $1 million bills with a dual portrait of Rafferty and Frank Mathews and slogans "Can't Get One Without the Other" and "We Are In the Money" appeared on the streets. Rafferty accused supporters of runoff opponent Duncan of smearing her. Duncan denied any involvement. Rafferty went on to win the runoff with almost 63% of the vote.
Rafferty's pre-existing personal legal dispute with the Birmingham Airport Authority was perceived by some as an area of potential conflict of interest with her chairmanship of the Council's transportation committee, especially after then-Council President Roderick Royal threatened to terminate the Authority's lease at the airport.
Rafferty ran successfully for re-election in the 2013 Birmingham municipal election. In 2014, as chair of the transportation committee, she made efforts to balance the ride-sharing ordinance requested by Uber with public safety and liability concerns. While involved in that work, Rafferty also directed $30,000 of her District's discretionary funding to LW Associates to perform "economic development work in District 2". Some questioned the arrangement, given that the firm specialized in political strategy, not economic development, and that partner Lou Willie III had represented taxi companies as an attorney. When asked to substantiate the work that LW Associates performed, Rafferty described work with the legal department related to the transportation code updates as well as providing advice on economic development ideas.
Meanwhile, when Uber took their case to Montgomery for a state law that would supersede city ordinances regarding app-based ride-sharing companies. Rafferty participated with other municipal officials such as Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox to lobby successfully against the bill. The council passed their revision of the city's transportation ordinance on July 29, 2015. Rather than meeting with city attorneys, Uber instead launched a social media campaign to put public pressure on the council. A revision to the ordinance was passed on October 14, but Uber remained unwilling to comply with it. A second revision, which was acceptable to Uber, passed the Council 7-1 on December 8 with Rafferty abstaining.
In August 2015 Rafferty was on the eight-member council majority that voted to increase council salaries from $15,000 to $50,000, beginning with the incoming 2017 City Council. As with the Uber controversy, outrage over the pay increase prompted some to look to the state legislature to intervene. David Faulkner introduced a bill to make the process more transparent to the public. In the meantime, Rafferty expressed that she wished to rescind her vote and suggested tying council pay to the city's average household income (then $32,000), plus an expense account.
In the committee realignment initiated by new Council President Johnathan Austin in December 2015 Rafferty was removed from the transportation committee and instead appointed chair of the Council's Planning and Zoning committee and assigned seats on the Education Committee and Utilities Committee.
Rafferty faced seven challengers in her bid to keep her District 2 seat in the 2017 Birmingham municipal election. She lost to Hunter Williams in the run off by a 71-29 percent margin. In October 2017 Rafferty married Darrin Abbott in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
|Birmingham City Council District 2 Representative
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- Bryant, Joseph D. (November 7, 2010) "Transportation committee member Rafferty has her own dispute with airport" The Birmingham News
- Leech, Marie (August 23, 2013) "Birmingham election: blighted properties, safer streets, better schools top priorities for District 2 voters." The Birmingham News
- Owens, Cody (July 28, 2014) "Transportation conflicts?" Weld for Birmingham
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- Alexander, Alan (May 13, 2015) "Bham officials not happy about bill that would open door for Uber." Birmingham Business Journal
- Owens, Cody (July 28, 2015) "Rafferty’s “mental work”". Weld for Birmingham
- Stein, Kelsey (November 17, 2015) "Birmingham officials, Uber collaborate to pave way for ridesharing" The Birmingham News
- "Birmingham city councilor changes tune with councilor pay raise." (March 29, 2016) WBRC.com
- Archibald, John (May 11, 2016) "See how council president punished those who opposed him." The Birmingham News