I’m almost shell shocked.
I was flipping through the pages of the Over the Mountain Journal, when I saw the headline, “Hitting on all cylinders—Mountain Brook Mayor Welch Lays Out His Plans for 2018.”
The mayor of Mountain Brook, as you might expect, discussed his efforts to help Mountain Brook merchants and restaurants.
But then Mayor Welch, a longtime financial executive, went off in a completely and unexpected direction.
As you are aware, we don’t have the best track record for our municipalities and politicians working together, so when I read the first subtitle in the article, I had to rub my eyes.
Yes, Stewart Welch, the Mayor of Mountain Brook was making the unprecedented announcement that four over the mountain mayors are having quarterly meetings to discuss how they might work with one another.
Mountain Brook’s Welch, Homewood’s Scott McBrayer, Hoover’s Frank Brocato, and Vestavia Hill’s Ashley Curry (Brocato and Curry took office about the same time as Welch) are meeting to talk about common opportunities and problems.
“We looked at Scott and said, ‘There’s a lot we can learn from you because we are just getting started here.’ So we started meeting once a quarter, and we became buddies,” he says. “We created some safe space, you know? ‘Everything said here stays here.’”
Even though the results so far have been modest, you have to understand what a major breakthrough this is.
A few years ago there was an effort for Irondale, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Homewood to build a common jail. As one Vestavia City Councilman told me, we’re talking about a ‘Barney Fife’ type jail. But that discussion went nowhere.
No need to combine cities or schools
It seems so obvious.
We don’t have to combine our municipalities, our schools, or turn Birmingham upside down. All we have to do is talk with one another.
These four over the mountain mayors are showing real leadership and some bravery. (Be sure and let them know you support their efforts)
Who knows, maybe one day we might be able to expand the conversation to other mayors.
We’ve all heard the famous quote, “Every journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Mayor’s Welch, McBrayer, Brocato, and Curry have taken that first step.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.