Cheri A. Gardner

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Cheri A. Gardner
Cheri A. Gardner.jpg
Birmingham City School Board, District 6
Term ends
August 2017
Elections and appointments
Last electionOctober 8, 2013
First electedOctober 8, 2013
Term limitsN/A
ProfessionFuneral Home Director
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey

Cheri A. Gardner was a candidate for the District 6 seat on the Birmingham City School Board in the August 27, 2013 election. She came in first place in the August 27, 2013 election, advancing to a runoff with Gwendolyn Thomas Bell. She defeated Gwendolyn Thomas Bell in the October 8, 2013 runoff election.


Gardner resides in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a funeral director currently employed by Smith and Gaston Funeral Home. Prior to running for the school board, Gardner had applied to fill the vacant Ward 6 seat on the Birmingham City Council.



Gardner sought to win election to the seat held by incumbent board member W. J. Maye Jr. who did not seek re-election. In addition to Gardner, four other candidates sought the same seat: Lavon Beard, Gwendolyn Thomas Bell, Ervin Philemon Hill Sr. and Joy A. Smith. The general election was held on Tuesday, August 27, 2013. Gardner received a plurality of votes cast. Because she did not receive a majority of votes, she proceeded to a runoff election with second place finisher Gwendolyn Thomas Bell.

Birmingham City Schools, District 6 General Election, 4-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCheri A. Gardner 35.2% 1,231
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngGwendolyn Thomas Bell 25.7% 898
     Nonpartisan Lavon Beard 17.1% 598
     Nonpartisan Ervin Philemon Hill Sr. 12.9% 450
     Nonpartisan Joy A. Smith 9.2% 320
Total Votes 3,497
Source: Birmingham Office of the City Clerk, "City Election - August 27, 2013," accessed August 28, 2013

Birmingham City Schools, District 6 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCheri Gardner 65.1% 600
     Nonpartisan Gwendolyn Bell 34.9% 322
Total Votes 922
Source:, "Birmingham Election Run Off Results," accessed October 9, 2013 These results are unofficial and not certified. They will be updated once certified results are available.

2013 Birmingham City Council vacancy

Gardner recently applied to fill the District 6 vacancy on Birmingham City Council caused by the resignation of now-Judge Carole C. Smitherman. She is one of eight finalists for the seat—vacant since January—that remains unfilled after Council deadlocked on two candidates.[1][2]

What was at stake?

Nine seats, including every board officer position, were at stake. Incumbents Carol E. Clarke, W. J. Maye Jr. and Phyllis F. Wyne did not seek re-election.[3]

Gang of Five

Three members of the controversial "Gang of Five" coalition of board members that attempted to oust Superintendent Witherspoon were on the ballot. All three were defeated. These members were Emanuel B. Ford, Virginia S. Volker and Tyrone H. Belcher, Sr., who all ran contested races.[3] Ford and Volker are also plaintiffs in a lawsuit that seeks an injunction against the Alabama State Board of Education, Ed Richardson, and State Superintendent Tommy Bice. The suit alleges that the majority Caucasian State Board of Education overruled decisions made by the majority African American Birmingham City Schools Board of Education.[4] According to the Voting Rights Act, changes to Alabama elections must be pre-approved by a federal judge. A decision in this lawsuit is still pending.[5]


Student enrollment has dropped from 35,000 in 2000 to less than 25,000 in 2013.

On June 26, 2012, the Alabama Department of Education assumed control of Birmingham City Schools after the school board failed to pass a measure that would have cut hundreds of jobs over two years to bring the district into compliance with state law.[6] The discovery that schools in the district were operating without the mandated month of emergency reserve funds, which amounted to approximately $20 million, was another contributor to the state takeover.[7] The Alabama State Board of Education appointed former State Superintendent Ed Richardson to oversee the district. Working with the state board, Richardson has overridden several Birmingham Board of Education votes, including votes regarding the method of building consolidation and layoffs of over 100 employees. Since the takeover, the school board has consolidated seven schools and six office buildings in an effort to save the district approximately $8 million.[7]

About the district

The Birmingham City School District was created in 1910 when the Alabama State Legislature passed a bill creating Greater Birmingham. Through this bill, 40 schools were annexed by the Birmingham Free School, most of them substandard and in disrepair. Birmingham City Schools is now comprised of 51 schools including 25 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, seven K-8 schools, seven high schools, and one alternative school.[8]


Birmingham City Schools is located in Jefferson County, Alabama
Birmingham City School District is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama, located northeast of the capital, Montgomery. According to the 2010 US Census, Birmingham is home to 212,237 residents.[9]


Jefferson County outperforms the rest of Alabama in terms of median household income, poverty rates and higher education achievement in 2011. The median household income for Jefferson County is $45,750 when compared to $42,934 for the state of Alabama. The percentage of people below poverty level for Jefferson County is 16.2% while it is 17.6% for the state of Alabama. The 2010 U.S. Census also found that 29.0% of Jefferson County residents aged 25 or older attained a bachelor's degree compared to 22.0% in Iowa[10]

Racial Demographics, 2012[10]
Race Jefferson County (%) Alabama (%)
White 54.3 70.0
Black or African American 42.6 26.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 0.7
Asian 1.5 1.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 1.1 1.5
Hispanic or Latino 3.9 4.1

Presidential Voting Pattern[11]
Year Democratic Vote Democratic Vote (%) Republican Vote Republican Vote (%)
2012 159,876 52.50 141,683 46.53
2008 166,121 52.15 149,921 47.07
2004 132,286 45.15 158,680 54.16
2000 129,889 47.45 138,491 50.59

About District 6

District 6 is one of nine single member electoral districts on the Birmingham City School Board. It is home to two schools[12]: Hemphill Elementary (K-5) and Booker T. Washington K-8 (K-8). District 6 primarily includes the West End of Birmingham.

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. The Birmingham News. "Birmingham City Council seat still open weeks after interviews and months after vacancy". Retrieved on 23 July 2013. 
  2. The Birmingham News. "Birmingham City Council deadlocks on filling long-vacant District 6 seat". Retrieved on 23 July 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Marissa Mitchell, ABC 3340, "Qualifying candidates for Birmingham mayoral, city council, school board races," July 12, 2013
  4. Kent Faulk,, "Birmingham group: state should be ordered to get federal approval to override city school board votes," June 22, 2013
  5. Fox 6 WBRC "School lobby, Birmingham BOE members file lawsuit against state board" February 14, 2013
  6. Sherea Harris and Brianne Britzius, Fox 6 WBRC, "State will take over Birmingham schools starting Wednesday," July 3, 2012
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named takeover1
  8. Birmingham City Schools, "History of the Birmingham City Schools" accessed July 16, 2013
  9. United States Census Bureau, "Guide to 2010 Census State and Local Geography - Alabama," accessed August 13, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 United States Census Bureau, "Jefferson County Quick Facts," accessed August 13, 2013
  11. Alabama Secretary of State, "Elections Information," accessed August 14, 2013
  12. Birmingham City Schools. "District 6 schools". Birmingham City Schools. Retrieved on 23 July 2013.