Roderick Van Royal (born c. 1965 in Birmingham) represented District 9 in the Birmingham City Council from 2001 to 2013. As Council President, he served as acting Mayor of Birmingham from November 2009 to January 2010. He was first elected to the City Council in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009. When the 2009 Council was installed, he was elected president and immediately succeeded former president Carole Smitherman as acting Mayor, until William Bell was sworn in following a special election. He did not run for re-election in 2013.
Royal was born and raised in Birmingham. His first political experience was being elected student council president at Tuggle Elementary School. He later served as student government president at A. H. Parker High School and Tuskegee University where he earned his bachelor of science in political science. He went on to earn a master's of public administration from Webster University in St Louis and has also graduated from the University of Alabama police academy.
During the first implementation of Birmingham's Community Participation Program, he served as a youth member of the Fountain Heights Neighborhood Association. He later served as secretary of the East Thomas Neighborhood Association for two terms.
Previously, Royal served as the Alabama state coordinator for Job Corps, as an instructor at MIles College, as a Birmingham police officer, and as an officer in the United States army during Operation Desert Storm. He was also a committee assistant for the City Council and an aide to Councillor William Bell. He has served on the boards of the A. G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club, and the Birmingham Humane Society. He has also been a deacon in his church and owned his own business.
Royal joined an all-rookie Council in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005. On the council, he served as Chair of the Education Committee and as a member of the Transportation and Communications committee and the Planning and Zoning committee. He secured bond funds to extend sanitary sewer service to Dolomite and Oak Ridge in 2002. Royal enlisted support from the Jefferson County Health Department and Wal-Mart stores for the Bee Healthy Nutrition Initiative, which provides breakfast bars to elementary school students at five Birmingham City Schools. Another program, Healthy Smiles, was planned to provide city-sponsored dental care at schools.
When acting as Mayor in December 2009, Royal chose to ignore warnings that the city's budget contained fraudulent revenue projections and signed contracts for $45 million for construction toward the redevelopment of Fair Park. He proposed a modest package of other spending cuts, but never ordered a corrected report on the city's finances that would have revealed a much larger deficit.
Royal is married and has three children. He resides in the Pratt City community. In a memorable argument in Council on February 28, 2006, Royal was referred to by Councilor Bell as "that little twerp."
Royal declined to run for re-election in the 2013 Birmingham municipal election. Before the the 2014 election, he announced a challenge to incumbent George Bowman for District 1 on the Jefferson County Commission, but finished third in the primary. In his campaign he stressed the importance of lobbying for renewal of the Jefferson County Occupational Tax to fund public programs.
After Marcus Lundy announced he would not seek re-election, Royal made another run for City Council in the 2017 Birmingham municipal election. While he gained the most votes in the District 9 general election, he was forced into a runoff and lost to John Hilliard who garnered 2,713 votes to Royal's 2,652.
|Birmingham City Council District 9
Carole Smitherman (acting)
|Mayor of Birmingham (acting)
|Birmingham City Council president
- "Birmingham City Council candidates" (October 9, 2005) The Birmingham News
- "Birmingham City Council elections: District 9 candidate Roderick Royal." (August 14, 2009) The Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (September 22, 2009) "Bandy, Royal tout experience in 3rd council contest." The Birmingham News
- Whitmire, Kyle (May 24, 2010) "When the going gets tough the lame keep talking." Second Front
- Wright, Barnett (May 29, 2014) "Jefferson County Commission candidate profile: Roderick Royal, District 1." The Birmingham News
- Daniel, J. H. (July 5, 2017) "He’s back: former Birmingham city councilor Roderick Royal running for District 9." Bham Now