New bill would align Birmingham mayor and city council elections

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor William Bell could serve two more years than expected on his current term if a House passed bill clears the State Senate.
It is an effort to set elections for the mayor and city council on the same calendar date every four years. Currently, Birmingham's council is elected in the mayor's mid-term.

Representative Merika Coleman says she introduced the bill after hearing from neighborhood leaders. Coleman says many believe having the mayor and council elections in different years only creates more political bickering because council members have a tendency to stay in office as they run for mayor.
This bill, Coleman says, puts Birmingham in line with many other cities that hold the mayor and council elections at the same time.
It is not a bill Council President Roderick Royal and other council members support. Royal led a group of four council members to Montgomery earlier this month to tell lawmakers and Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. they oppose it.
Royal has previously complained Coleman did not consult the council before introducing the plan. Coleman says that is not so.

The Democrat says she is still willing to hear what types of changes are needed to pass the bill. "I'm open to all suggestions tonight," says Coleman. "This bill still has to go through the Senate and we'll have opportunities to change it if indeed the citizens say they don't like the form that passed in the House."

A public hearing takes place Monday night from 6:00 to 8:00 at the Birmingham City Hall Council Chambers.

If passed under its current wording, William Bell's term would be extended to 2013. Currently, he is slated to run for re-election in 2011 after completing the term he filled after Larry Langford's removal from office.
Coleman says if the bill clears in the current form, it would be subject to pre-clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice.           

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