Elections are now over in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. There were a few interesting developments made by voters on Tuesday.
Some of the closest watched races involved the races for Birmingham's Board of Education. The school board faces criticism for being under state supervision and being at risk of losing its accreditation. Voters went to the polls and elected eight out of the nine school board seats.
This could be unsettling news for Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. A group of candidates opposed school board incumbents, saying they wanted to decide Witherspoon's future. They are not happy with the state intervening in the school system.
When asked about the school board elections, Birmingham Mayor William Bell encouraged everyone to get out and vote if they are passionate about an issue.
"This is an important election for the school board. It's the first one since the state intervention and whoever is elected needs to work out the issues with the state and then focus on educating children," said Bell.
Bell is staying firmly planted in his seat as Birmingham's mayor. He cruised to an easy re-election victory Tuesday night. Bell told a crowd of supporters he is grateful for the chance to lead the city another four years. He said he wants to focus on revitalizing the city's neighborhoods, attracting more jobs and training the city's workforce to fill those jobs. He also pledged to rebuild relationships within the city council.
After a hard fought race, Tuscaloosa has its first new board of education chair in eight years, but he is not a new face in local politics. Longtime Tuscaloosa City Councilman Lee Garrison will become Tuscaloosa's new board of education chair. The race ended up being a pretty close one. Garrison edged out Denise Hills by a little more than 200 votes to become the new chair.
Around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Garrison claimed victory and says he is happy voters wanted change. Garrison told supporters he is looking for healing on the school board. He believes the current board is divided and he wants the new board to work together. Garrison also wants more investments made into schools. He says he hopes to take the Tuscaloosa City School Board to new heights.
"I'm humbled by the support. It was a close election. It was an election of ideas. Towards the end, it turned ugly, but the bottom line is the people spoke with all that information and they decided who they want to lead the school board," said Garrison. "I look forward to leading the school board and I look forward to working with all the incumbents that have won. And I look forward to working with all incumbents that were not challenged. And I look forward to working with all the winners today."
All incumbents facing challengers in the school board race won another term, except for Kelly Horwitz, who lost to Cason Kirby. That race has seen some controversy, with allegations of voter fraud being reported to the Alabama Secretary of State's Office.
To see the election results, visit MyVoteAlabama.com.
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