Randall Woodfin

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Randall Woodfin

Randall Lee Woodfin (born May 29, 1981 in Birmingham) is the Mayor of the City of Birmingham since 2017. He is a former assistant city attorney and former president of the Birmingham Board of Education.

Early life and education

Woodfin, the son of Cynthia Woodfin-Kellum, grew up in North Birmingham. His older brother, Ralph Woodfin, was given the privilege of picking his name. Their mother suggested "Randall" rather than just "Randy", "in case [he] ever ran for an important office like president."

He attended North Birmingham Elementary School, Putnam Middle School, and Shades Valley High School. While in school he worked as a bagger at Food Smart. 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.

Woodfin has a bachelor's degree in political science from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and served as SGA president during his senior year in 2002-2003. Woodfin went on to earn his juris doctorate at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.

Early career

After college he returned to Birmingham as an assistant to Birmingham City Council president Lee Loder, and later as a staff member for the Birmingham Division of Youth Services and at the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, where he participated in implementing programs through the Birmingham Weed & Seed Task Force.

After law school he went on to clerk for one of the firms representing the Board of Education. Woodfin was then appointed an assistant city attorney for the City of Birmingham in 2009.

He ran unsuccessfully for the District 3 seat on the Birmingham Board of Education in that year's municipal election. In the 2013 Birmingham municipal election, Woodfin ran for the vacant District 5 seat on the Board. He took over the role of president of the new board that emerged from state takeover and was responsible for addressing the needed improvements outlined by the AdvancED accrediting agency.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Woodfin served as statewide organizer for Hillary Clinton's campaign and briefly chaired the Young Professionals Advisory Council for the Birmingham office of the United Negro College Fund.

In August 2016 Woodfin announced his candidacy for the 2017 Birmingham mayoral election. Ed Fields managed the campaign while Pine Street Strategies of Washington D.C. conducted a national fundraising drive which targeted Morehouse graduates and pushed positive stories on Woodfin to the national media. He was endorsed locally by the Grassroots Coalition, the Birmingham Professional Firefighters Association, and the Birmingham Local Chapter of National Letter Carriers Association; and nationally by Our Revolution and the Political Revolution PAC. He garnered the largest number of votes on election day, advancing to a runoff with incumbent William Bell.

On October 3, 2017, Randall Woodfin won the run-off election for Mayor of Birmingham with 59% of the votes defeating incumbent Mayor William Bell.


First term

Woodfin named Fields, Charles Krulak and Bobbie Knight to his transition team. On November 14 he announced that Cedric Sparks would serve as his chief of staff, with Kevin Moore as chief of operations, Kevin Datcher as chief of governmental affairs (to liaise with the City Council), Ed Fields as chief strategist and senior adviser, and Nicole King as city attorney. He was sworn into office on November 28, 2017.

On March 15, 2018 Woodfin hosted a public event at the Alabama Theatre to publicize "The Woodfin Way", the combined reports of his transition teams' analysis of city operations during his first 100 days in office. The report suggested several major changes to priorities and organization of City Hall. The mayor held a public event, called "The Big Picture," on March 21, 2019 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts' Dorothy Jemison Day Theater to update progress on his agenda. Woodfin delivered a mid-term update at Haven on December 3, 2019. He touted the growth of the Birmingham Neighborhood Revitalization Fund, which has made possible the paving of 16 miles of streets, the repair of 27,516 potholes, and the demolition of more than 700 dilapidated structures. He also spoke about the city's coordinated efforts to revitalized downtown Ensley. Other programs mentioned included the Birmingham Peace Campaign, the restructuring of the 311 service, the Pardons for Progress program, and the Birmingham Promise Initiative. Going forward, Woodfin announced future efforts to restructure the city's recycling program, to promote environmental justice, to reduce homelessness, and to support women- and minority-owned businesses.

Woodfin has been recognized by some for his use of social media to speak up on behalf of varying issues, including discussions about Civil Rights policy, as well as a way to communicate with businesses who are considering expansions, such as Amazon, BMW, Cook Out, Delta, and Kroger.

On Sunday May 31, 2020, during the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, a group of residents took to the street to try and take down the Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument located across the street from Birmingham City Hall in Linn Park. Woodfin arrived at the scene and asked the crowd to give him 24 hours to "finish" what they started. After Woodfin left the park, the protest spilled into the street, becoming unruly and breaking windows.

The next day, Monday June 1, Woodfin issued an executive order banning protests on public property. That evening, during a citywide curfew, crews did remove the upper part of the monument in Linn Park. On June 2, the ACLU of Alabama released a statement calling the ban of protests "unconstitutional" and "government overreach." Several Birmingham area residents had been arrested by the Birmingham Police Department for ignoring the curfew. After the removal of the monument Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit against the city for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Woodfin's action also brought criticism and death threats from white supremacists. One significant telephone threat led to a lockdown at Birmingham City Hall and nearby buildings. The City of Birmingham arrested Warrior resident Brian Vest and charged him with threatening the lives of Woodfin and others. The lockdown was lifted after a week.

Woodfin announced his re-election campaign for Mayor of Birmingham on August 24, 2020. In January 2021 Our Revolution - Birmingham, with support of Our Revolution National, released a statement repealing their previous endorsement of Randall Woodfin for Mayor of Birmingham, ahead of the 2021 municipal elections in Birmingham, Alabama. Two week earlier the Birmingham chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) - Birmingham Chapter released videos condemning Randall Woodfin's policies, which included a critic of his FY2021 budget that furloughed of hundreds of city employees while increasing the budget for the police department, and acknowledging that they will not be supporting his re-election campaign.

In January 2021 he was admitted to Princeton Baptist Medical Center for two nights to treat pneumonia related to COVID-19.

On April 20, 2021 Woodfin issued blanket pardons for all those convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in Birmingham Municipal Court. The action was taken after it was reported that his "Pardons for Progress" program had only reached a small fraction of those it was intended to help.

Woodfin's re-election campaign for the 2021 Birmingham municipal election was endorsed by Joe Biden, Doug Jones, Rolanda Hollis, Richard Arrington, Sheila Tyson, and Stacy Abrams, as well as by the Alabama New South Coalition, Central Alabama Labor Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign and The Collective PAC. Though he faced seven challengers, he won the August 24 race outright with 64.3% of the vote. On the evening that he celebrated his re-election, Woodfin posted a video of him dancing at various locations in the city with his girlfriend, real estate agent Kendra Scott. The video was created by Ursula Smith, owner of the Ursula Smith Dance Co..

Second term

Woodfin took the oath of office a second time, administered by Jefferson County District Court judge Ruby Davis, during an outdoor inauguration ceremony at noon on Tuesday, November 23, 2021. In his address he promised a city that would work in unity like a symphony orchestra, "all playing from the same page, with the same objective." In an interview with The Birmingham Times earlier that day, he placed emphasis on improving interactions between city employees and residents.

As part of the "transition" to a second term, Woodfin promoted chief of operations Kevin Moore to chief financial officer for his administration, allowing former deputy chief of operations Chaz Mitchell to step up. He also appointed former chief assistant city attorney Melissa Smiley to serve as chief accountability officer and hired Marie Sutton as the city's new public information officer, replacing Chanda Temple who took on a senior project manager role.

Based on the success of his "Pardons for Progress" initiative in clearing obstacles to credit and employment, Woodfin announced on March 22, 2022 that his office would also issue blanket pardons for outstanding traffic and parking fines issued before January 1, 2011.

In 2023 Woodfin was appointed by President Joe Biden to a two-year term on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He announced his engagement to real estate executive Kendra in March and made plans for a massive New Years' Eve wedding. At short notice they decided to exchange vows at a more intimate ceremony at 2000 Warwick Drive in October, keeping the December date for a more public celebration. Thomas Beavers, senior pastor of New Rising Star Church, officiated.

On December 14, 2023 Woodfin delivered a speech at the Birmingham Museum of Art entitled "The Blueprint" as an update on the progress of his "The Woodfin Way" and "Vision 2025" strategic plans. He framed his first term as having been engaged in tearing down systems that weren't functioning, and said that "In term two, we’re rebuilding." He introduced "The Blueprint" as "Birmingham’s manifesto for our next great breakthrough." Specific programs he touted included Birmingham Talks early childhood education, Birmingham Promise for high-school graduates, Embrace Mothers to support single mothers, Home For All to address homelessness, investments in public works and parks, the city's home repair program, and efforts to reduce violence and address food deserts.

Woodfin spoke at City Hall on December 19 following the release of Alabama Department of Education's annual report card, on which Birmingham City Schools were awarded an overall "C" grade (72/100). Woodfin called that score unacceptable, and asked for any teachers that were "doing the bare minimum" for their students to "please resign." He also proposed encouraging better attendance by entering qualifying households in a raffle for free rent.

Preceded by:
Emanuel Ford
Birmingham Board of Education District 5
Succeeded by:
Mickey Millsap
Preceded by:
April Williams
Birmingham Board of Education president
Succeeded by:
Wardine Alexander
Preceded by:
William Bell
Mayor of Birmingham
Succeeded by:


External links