We know it’s not the mayor of Birmingham.
The City of Birmingham represents only 19% of the population of the metro area.
And Mayor Bell, who I strongly believe understands the importance of regionalism, has said on numerous occasions, “I was not elected mayor of the region.”
If he’s not the Mayor of Birmingham, then who is?
There’s not even a close second. Some may say it’s the President of the Jefferson County Commission, but he’s elected from one county district. That means he’s accountable to 20% of the population of Jefferson County and 12% of the metro.
It’s not our new County Manager. He wasn’t elected by anyone.
And when an elected official makes an effort to do what he feels is best for our region he’s taking a huge risk of antagonizing his constituency. Tony Petelos when he was Mayor of Hoover was open-minded when he held hands with Mayor Bell at the dedication of Railroad Park. And he went beyond courageous when he did not actively fight the relocation of the Barons from Hoover to Birmingham. Even though Mayor Petelos chose to do what he thought was right for our region, his actions left him vulnerable to criticism by Hoover residents.
I attended a victory party for a Birmingham City Councilperson. The celebration speech was all about potholes, garbage pickup, and other neighborhood issues. There was not a single comment about the future of the City of Birmingham or the greater Birmingham region.
Every elected official is concerned with his or her piece of the puzzle. There’s nothing wrong with our politicians—this is the system we created for them. They are doing what they are supposed to do—please their voters.
How are we to compete?
Who is steering our ship? We have no captain.
David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.
David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).