VIDEO: Birmingham mayoral candidates address biggest issues facing city in WBRC forum
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - From tackling the pandemic, crime and newly released census data showing Birmingham is now the 2nd largest city behind Huntsville, seven Birmingham mayoral candidates had plenty to discuss Thursday during WBRC’s mayoral forum.
WBRC asking several candidates running for mayor, what’s the biggest issue facing Birmingham? Candidates say encouraging more people to get vaccinated is a top priority, others mentioned crime and some say neighborhood revitalization needs to be addressed more.
“We have a trifecta of issues facing our city right now. One being COVID, with the Delta variant continuing to increase in our community not just in the city of Birmingham, but across the nation. In addition to that, that is coupled with neighborhood revitalization, which is the number one issue our citizens talk to us about when we’re out knocking on their doors, as well as gun violence,”Mayor Randall Woodfin said.
“Our largest problem is failed leadership. It takes leadership to be able to fight and be more responsive to violent crime, investing in our Birmingham city school system, having the courage to recognize that your city is not living up to the standard that it should,” Lashunda Scales, Jefferson County Commissioner running for mayor said.
“People are afraid in our communities, businesses who have people being murdered within blocks of their operations are fearful,” William Bell, former Birmingham mayor said.
“The main issue that effects Birmingham and its citizens is the mayor-council act. The mayor council act allows corporate corporations to control the lack of black-owned business inclusion in Birmingham,” Philemon Hill, a mayoral candidate said.
When it comes to reducing the on-going violence, some candidates feel there needs to be new leadership at the police department and others feel the city and BPD should focus on more mental health programs to address crime.
“My 7-point crime plan is to reach out to the sheriff’s office and partner with the sheriff’s office because of our lack manpower, police deterrence against gun violence, gangs, drugs and human trafficking,” Chris Woods, mayoral candidate said.
“Get a police chief that’s from Birmingham. Go out and engage in the neighborhood. You can go to the places where the crime is mostly. Take the young men, talk to them, given them something else to do,” Darryl Williams, another mayoral candidate said.
“Addressing gun violence, you can’t do it just by arresting your way out of it. We’ve taken 5,000 illegal guns off the street since January 2018. But yes we need our federal and state partners to help assist in that. We also have to have more prevention measures which we’ve started,” Woodfin said.
“As a mental health advocate, I would like to introduce more mental health programs. I also would like to have more conflict resolution and also community policing,” Cerissa Brown, a mayoral candidate said.
“Implement community policing and work with the neighborhoods and help to reduce the amount of violent crime in our city. We will fully implement the 21st century policing initiative to make sure that we create jobs. We create opportunity so that people won’t have the incentive to get out there and participate in criminal activity,” Bell said.
You can watch the full two-hour debate here:
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