Four incumbents ousted in Alabama school board elections
On August 27, two of the largest cities in Alabama held municipal elections for school board positions. A total of twenty-five candidates vied for nine positions on the Birmingham City Board of Education, while fourteen candidates sought eight positions on the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education. Only three races in the two elections went uncontested.
Three incumbents ousted on Birmingham City Board of Education
Birmingham, Alabama: Three incumbents on the Birmingham City Board of Education successfully defended their seats on the board. Board Vice-President Brian Giattina ran unopposed in District 3, while incumbent President April Myers Williams defeated two challengers. Wardine T. Alexander, who was appointed to the board in March, narrowly defeated two opponents to earn her first electoral victory. The three remaining members of the "Gang of Five" board coalition, who controversially attempted to fire Superintendent Craig Witherspoon, did not fare as well as their fellow incumbents. Tyrone H. Belcher, Sr. finished third in the District 1 race, which will feature a runoff election between Sherman Collins, Jr. and Douglas Ragland. Political newcomers Lyord Watson, Jr. and Sandra K. Brown also soundly defeated veteran board members Virginia S. Volker and Emanuel B. Ford.
Runoff elections will take place in Districts 1, 4 and 6 on October 8, 2013. Daagye Hendricks and former Birmingham City Schools administrator Gwen Sykes will compete in District 4, while the District 6 runoff will feature Cheri A. Gardner and Gwendolyn Thomas Bell. Once the election results are officially certified, the Birmingham City Board of Education will have six fresh faces.
The following results are unofficial vote totals from the Birmingham school board election:
Incumbents remain in control of Tuscaloosa Board of Education
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Incumbents maintained control of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education despite a well-funded effort to oust them in order to reform board policies. Voters returned James Minyard, Harry Lee, Marvin Lucas and Erskine Simmons to the board in competitive elections while Earnestine Tucker ran unopposed for the District 2 seat. Newcomers Lee Garrison and Cason Kirby won narrow victories for the Chair and District 4 seats while Norman A. Crow ran unopposed in District 3. Campaign contributions to challengers from Educate Tuscaloosa PAC yielded mixed results as the group contributed at least $14,000 to defeated candidates Earnestine Young and Joe Gattozzi as well as Kirby.
On Election Day, an influx of University of Alabama students at the District 4 polls raised concerns about attempts to attract votes through indirect incentives such as free drinks and limo rides to voting locations. Additional complaints in District 4 centered on a single address where ten voters had registered but none had resided. A total of 8,627 votes were submitted on Tuesday, more than doubling the 3,127 votes cast in the 2009 board election.
The following results are unofficial vote totals from the Tuscaloosa school board election:
What comes next?
Runoff elections will take place for Districts 1, 4 and 6 in Birmingham on October 8, and six new members of the Birmingham City Board of Education will be sworn in on October 22. Incoming members to the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education will be sworn in on November 4, 2013.
- Ana Rodriguez, AL.com, "Wardine Alexander appears to have narrowly won re-election for Birmingham's District 7 Board of Education position," August 27, 2013
- Marie Leech, AL.com, "Birmingham school board decision to fire Superintendent Craig Witherspoon overturned (updated)," July 18, 2012
- Jeremy Gray, AL.com, "Collins, Ragland in runoff for Birmingham's District 1 school board race (updated)," August 27, 2013
- Mark Almond, AL.com, "Birmingham election results: See who won mayor, City Council and school board elections," accessed August 28, 2013
- Fox 6, "Municipal Elections," August 27, 2013
- WVUA, "Municipal Election Results," August 28, 2013
- Melissa Brown, AL.com, "Sorority offered free drinks to members to vote in Tuscaloosa City Board of Education race," August 28, 2013
- Fox 6, "Secretary of State's Office aware of voter fraud complaints in Tuscaloosa," August 27, 2013
- Jamon Smith, Tuscaloosa News, "Tuscaloosa City Board of Education: Garrison wins close school board chair race," August 28, 2013