What’s going on in America?
Everyone seems to be divided.
No one seems to want to cooperate to achieve common goals.
But then there’s Birmingham—a region that in the past has been the center of disharmony and distrust.
Recently there appears to be a heartfelt and sincere effort to collaborate for a better future.
And it’s coming from where it’s least expected—from our elected officials.
What’s happening here is unprecedented and it has the potential to create a new day for our Birmingham region.
We saw it first in the mayors of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover, and Homewood.
But we’re now beginning to see it in our Jefferson County Mayors and other elected officials.
All of a sudden, after years of nearsighted us versus them mentality—our local politicians are beginning to see the big picture.
They’re beginning to understand that if our region is stagnant then our municipalities will be stagnant too.
The over the mountain mayors, Mayor Stuart Welch, of Mountain Brook; Mayor Ashley Curry of Vestavia Hills; Mayor Frank Brocato of Hoover; and Mayor Scott McBrayer of Homewood began meeting last year to identify and solve common problems.
Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham is completely reorganizing city government from top to bottom to serve its people and our region, and Mayor Stan Hogeland, Mayor of Gardendale, and the immediate past chairman of the Jefferson County Mayors’ Association, have been working with the other Jefferson County mayors toward a more collaborative Jefferson County.
As Gardendale Mayor Hogeland wrote on his Facebook page about his meeting with Jefferson County Mayors on October 17th…
“This morning I hosted a meeting for Mayors from all over Jefferson County to discuss ways that we can work together for the benefit for us all. We met for over four hours and dug deep into several topics with input from all who were in attendance. Below is an excerpt from my opening statement…”
”We’re here today to talk about one thing: How can we work together better for the benefit of us all? I’m convinced we’re not here today by accident.”
“We’ve got a great group of mayors in Jefferson County. We work hard, and we genuinely work together well.”
“But over the past year, a number of us have been talking about whether there could be an opportunity for our cities to work together in a bigger way that would have more of a lasting impact on all of our communities. Today is the result of these conversations, and the purpose is to try to set some goals as mayors and come up with a basic framework for how to do it.”
Not just the mayors
Steve Ammons, who was just elected to the Jefferson County Commission, won on a platform of economic development for all of Jefferson County. Ammons stated, “I really want to understand the other districts and what their issues are because it’s not just being a commissioner for District 5 — it’s being a commissioner for the entire county.”
And then there’s Hoover Councilor John Lyda, who took a brave stand to discourage Hoover from offering incentives to Medical West Hospital to abandon Bessemer.
Councilor Lyda summed it up the new type of leadership we are seeing here.
“Will we boldly stand and be the long awaited catalyst for change that illustrates how regional collaboration can work, or will we be conspirators in theft, paying a multi-million dollar bounty to steal from our neighbors?”
“Now more than ever across the Birmingham metropolitan area, it is imperative that we adopt the mindset that we must win together as one or we will all individually lose.”
Our Birmingham region still suffers from many of the same issues facing the rest of America.
But our local politicians are beginning to talk with one another.
Who knows if we will be successful—but this sure is refreshing.
Let your elected officials know how much you appreciate their efforts.
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