Birmingham City Council

From Bhamwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Birmingham City Council is the legislative body for the City of Birmingham. It was formed in April 1963 by the passage of the Mayor-Council Act, which replaced the former Birmingham City Commission. After they are sworn in, council members vote on a council president who assigns members to ten Birmingham City Council Committees. The council president also acts as mayor in the event the current mayor resigns or is forced from office.

The Council was originally composed of nine at-large members. In the first election the four candidates with the most votes won four-year terms, with the rest serving for two years before the next election. Each two years following five seats would come up for election with the top four vote-getters winning four-year terms and the fifth place finisher serving for two years before the next election.

As a result of a lawsuit brought by Russell Yarbrough (Yarbrough et al v. City of Birmingham), the method of electing the City Council was changed by court order to district representation in 1989. The purpose of the suit was to preserve minority (white) political representation in an increasingly African-American city.

Currently, the Birmingham City Council consists of nine members representing nine individual districts and facing elections every four years. Until 2013, City Council elections alternated with mayoral elections, meaning that sitting council members could run for mayor while keeping their council seats.

The council meets in the Council Chambers on the 3rd floor of Birmingham City Hall, facing Linn Park. A slogan above the door quotes William Shakespeare's Coriolanus, "The people are the city." (Act III, Scene i).

Technology improvements contracted from Granicus of San Francisco, California and installed in early 2008 allow a video record of council meetings to be indexed and published on the internet, along with electronically-recorded votes.


As recently as October 2014 Council compensation was $15,000 per year in salary plus a $10,000 annual allowance for expenses. That month the Council approved a proposal submitted by president Johnathan Austin to increase their expense allowance to $25,000 per year and to increase council salaries by $10,000 beginning in 2017, doubling members' overall compensation. The plan was approved by the committee of the whole then, and passed by a 7-1 vote on August 7, 2015. The council also advertised proposed state legislation that would expand total compensation for council members to $75,000 ($50,000 salary plus a $25,000 expense allowance).

Sate legislator Jabo Waggoner Jr sponsored a bill, crafted by Council member Kim Rafferty that superseded the Council's resolution, setting base compensation for members at the median household income for the city, as calculated by the Alabama Personnel Department every four years. The bill was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey on May 12, 2017. When the 2017 Council took office in October, their pay was therefore set at $37,000 per year.


The longest-serving members of the Birmingham City Council to date are William Bell (25 years, 1979–2001 and 2005–2008),Valerie Abbott (23 years, 2001–present), Nina Miglionico (22 years, 1963–1985), and David Herring (19 years, 1974–1993).


Members of the Birmingham City Council in 1963: 1st row, (L-R) E. C. Overton, Nina Miglionico, M. Edwin Wiggins, George Seibels. 2nd row, (L-R) Alan Drennen, Tom Woods, Don Hawkins, John Golden. Not pictured: John Bryan

John Bryan, Don Hawkins, George Seibels, and M. Edwin Wiggins were elected to four year terms. Alan Drennen, John Golden, Nina Miglionico, E. C. Overton and Tom Woods were elected to two-year terms. Wiggins was elected President of the Council. A review of roll-call votes indicated that Wiggins, Bryan, Miglionico, Seibels and Drennen represented a five-member moderate majority on race issues, while Overton, Golden, Woods and Hawkins opposed efforts to integrate public life. (Thornton-2002)



Drennen, Miglionico and Overton were re-elected to four-year terms joined by Liston Corcoran. R. W. Douglas won the open two-year term. Wiggins position as council president was unchallenged.



Bryan, Hawkins, Wiggins and Woods were all re-elected to four-year terms. R. W. Douglas was also re-elected, but died in office. Arthur Shores was appointed in June 1968 to fill his unexpired term, becoming the first African-American to serve in the Birmingham City Council. Wiggins remained City Council president.



The newly-elected and re-elected members of the Council are sworn in in November, 1969. Nina Miglionico and Arthur Shores on front row, Liston Corcoran, E. C. Overton and Russell Yarbrough in back.

Corcoran, Miglionico, Overton and Shores were all re-elected to four year terms. Russell Yarbrough won the two-year Council seat. Wiggins remained City Council president.



Hawkins and Yarbrough were re-elected to four-year terms. They were joined by Richard Arrington, Jr, David Vann, and Angi Grooms Proctor. Proctor took the two-year seat. Don Hawkins took over as City Council President.



Miglionico, Overton, Proctor and Shores were all re-elected to four-year terms (U. W. Clemon came in fourth). Liston Corcoran took the two-year seat. He died in office and David Herring was elected in February, 1974 to fill his unexpired term. Hawkins remained Council President.



Arrington, Hawkins, Herring and Yarbrough were each re-elected to four-year terms. Bessie Estell joined the council in the two-year seat. Hawkins remained Council President.



Estell, Miglionico and Overton were re-elected to four year terms, joined by John Katopodis. Larry Langford won the two-year seat. Council President Hawkins died in office. Pete Clifford was elected in November 1978 to fill his unexpired term and Nina Miglionico succeeded him as President, the first woman to hold that office.



Cllifford, Herring and Yarbrough were each re-elected to four-year terms, joined by Jeff Germany. William Bell won the two-year seat. Miglionico remained Council President.



Members of the Birmingham City Council in 1981 (L-R): William Bell, Jeff Germany, David Herring, Russell Yarbrough, John Katopodis, Nina Miglionico, Pete Clifford, Bettye Fine Collins, and Bill Myers

Katopodis and Miglionico were re-elected to four-year terms, joined by Bettye Fine Collins and Bill Myers. William Bell was re-elected to a second two-year term. John Katopodis succeeded Miglionico as Council President.



Members of the Birmingham City Council in 1983: Back (L-R): Eddie Blankenship, Jeff Germany, John Katopodis, Russell Yarbrough, William Bell, Bill Myers. Front (L-R): Bettye Fine Collins, David Herring, Nina Miglionico

Bell, Germany, Herring and Yarbrough were each re-elected to four-year terms. Eddie Blankenship won the two-year seat. David Herring succeeded Katopodis as Council President.



Blankenship and Myers were re-elected to four-year terms, joined by Roosevelt Bell and Linda Coleman. Collins won the two-year seat. William Bell succeeded Herring as Council President and Jeff Germany was President Pro Tem.



Germany, Herring and William Bell were re-elected to four-year terms, joined by Mike Graffeo. Antris Hinton won the two-year seat. Bell remained Council President.



In the first district-based election in the wake of Russell Yarbrough's lawsuit, seven of the nine council members won re-election. Graffeo lost his re-election bid. William Bell, Linda Coleman, and Jeff Germany all lived in City Council District 9 at the time of the court order to move to district-based voting. Bell moved to District 5 and won re-election while Coleman and Germany competed for District 9, with Germany losing.



Five members of the council, Leroy Bandy; Sandra Little; William Bell, Aldrich Gunn, and Pat Alexander constituted a majority coalition that typically supported Mayor Arrington.






Members of the Birmingham City Council in 2017: Back (L-R): John Hilliard, Darrell O'Quinn, Sheila Tyson, William Parker, Hunter Williams. Front (L-R): Steven Hoyt, Valerie Abbott, Jay Roberson, Lashunda Scales


2021–2025 Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council
District 1 Clinton Woods District 4 J. T. Moore District 7 Wardine Alexander
District 2 Hunter Williams District 5 Darrell O'Quinn District 8 Carol Clarke
District 3 Valerie Abbott District 6 Crystal Smitherman District 9 LaTonya Tate
Preceded by:
Birmingham City Commission
Legislative Body for the City of Birmingham
1963 - present
Succeeded by:


  • Franklin, Jimmie Lewis (1989) "Appendix: Birmingham Mayors and Council Members, 1963-Present," p. 333-36 in Back to Birmingham: Richard Arrington, Jr., and His Times. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817304355
  • Haeberle, Steven H. (1997) "Exploring the Effects of Single-Member Districts on an Urban Political System." Urban Affairs Review. Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 287-97
  • Norton, Bertha Bendall (1970) Birmingham's First Magic Century: Were You There?. Birmingham: self-published/Lakeshore Press
  • Thornton, J. Mills III (2002) Dividing Lines: Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 9780817311704
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (February 18, 2008) "Birmingham City Council to start using electronic voting system." Birmingham News
  • Carlisle, Don. (April 29, 2010). "The worst City Council of all time." The Birmingham Times - accessed May 13, 2010.
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (October 7, 2014) "Birmingham council endorses giving themselves $15,000 expense increase plus more pay for next council." The Birmingham News
  • Archibald, John (August 7, 2015) "Birmingham City Council pulls big check scam, triples its own salary." The Birmingham News
  • Archibald, John (December 11, 2015) "This city council may be the worst ever." The Birmingham News
  • Edgemon, Erin (May 12, 2017) "Law blocks Birmingham City Council's 233 percent pay increase." The Birmingham News
  • Johnson, Roy S. (October 16, 2017) "Birmingham city council hears news on pay raises, good news for city?" The Birmingham News
  • Prickett, Sam (August 19, 2018) "Filling in the Blanks: Birmingham Council Fine-Tuning Process to Find Replacements for Three Councilors" BirminghamWatch

External link