5 key takeaways from Mayor Woodfin’s speech at the Rotary Club of Birmingham

IMG 6554 edited 5 key takeaways from Mayor Woodfin's speech at the Rotary Club of Birmingham
Mayor Woodfin speaking at the Rotary Club of Birmingham. (Julia Sager/Bham Now)

Birmingham Mayor, Randall Woodfin, was last week’s guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Birmingham, one of the largest Rotary Clubs in the world. Several hundred CEOs and civic leaders were in attendence.

Mayor Woodfin had a special surprise for the Rotarians. In lieu of a formal speech, Woodfin opened the floor to a question-and-answer session.

Keep reading for what you need to know.

1. Birmingham is an ideal place to live and raise a family

Woodfin emphasized that Birmingham is a great place to live. Economic opportunity is booming and the community is working to expand it even further.

“We are focusing on jobs, jobs, and jobs— to not only retain the industries that are here, but to grow them and expand them, as well as recruit outside of Birmingham. When we do that, when your children and grandchildren go off to school or the military, they won’t move to the suburbs when they come back home—they will move here because of the economic opportunity.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin
IMG 6560 2 5 key takeaways from Mayor Woodfin's speech at the Rotary Club of Birmingham
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin discussing the future of Birmingham with 6th grader Graham Gaston. (Cindy Martin / Bham Now)

2. Woodfin’s peace initiative against gun violence is advancing

Mayor Woodfin has previously discussed his views on gun violence in Birmingham—declaring it a public health crisis in 2019. 

He talked about 3 ways to address gun violence:

  • Enforcement
  • Re-entry Efforts
  • Prevention Efforts

“On the enforcement end, everybody is short police officers.

So then we shift and give our energy toward re-entry and prevention efforts. How do we create a program to interact with victims to provide resources, so they don’t go out here and being a victim again or kill somebody? That program has just started.

Violence is not new in Birmingham. I’ll tell you what’s new- it’s the type and style of guns that exist on our streets and the ease and access of these guns.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

Last month, the Downtown Rotary was involved in the 2023 International Peace Conference, which brought together global, national and local leaders for positive change. Woodfin officially declared May 1-7 Birmingham Peace Week.

3. The city is taking steps to support our homeless community

Graham Gaston, 6th grader and son of Rotarian Jerus Gaston, raised his hand and asked about the homeless population. He had concerns on the growth of the homeless community in Birmingham, mentioning that he doesn’t see many shelters in the community and asked what steps the city is taking to help. ​

In response, Woodfin elaborated on his relationship with his homeless neighbors and the community, along with his plans to help alleviate their challenges. Woodfin expanded on previously announced plans for a tiny home community that will place unhoused Birminghamians in a more midterm shelter.

“This tiny home community will serve as an actual space for those who need to transition off the streets into more midterm shelter. It provides wrap-around services to assist them in employment opportunities, workforce training, workforce development, substance abuse issues and other services to support these men and women to make sure, long term, that this tiny home is not their last stop.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin
IMG 6561 5 key takeaways from Mayor Woodfin's speech at the Rotary Club of Birmingham
Mayor Randall Woodfin with current 6th grader Graham Gaston. (Cindy Martin / Bham Now)

4. Birmingham school system needs a stronger foundation

Woodfin was asked about the school system, including concerns regarding the potential merger between Birmingham and Jefferson County school systems. In response, he discussed how to strengthen the Birmingham system.

“It’s so easy to point the finger at the school system when the foundation has not properly been set. The question we should be asking in this room is- who is responsible for the foundation? I propose that city, private sector, state government, federal government- everybody go all in on the foundation.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

5. Educational programming is helping to benefit the children of Birmingham

IMG 6559 2 5 key takeaways from Mayor Woodfin's speech at the Rotary Club of Birmingham
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin closing his speech at the Downtown Rotary Club. (Cindy Martin / Bham Now)

The mayor discussed the importance of educational programming in Birmingham.

He talked about 2 of his major initiatives impacting the community:

“Birmingham Talks- partners with parents and children [during foundational years] to engage with more words. We need more community partners, so we can spread to more children in Birmingham and Jefferson County.

Birmingham Promise is a two-part program- part exit plan, part investment opportunity. Juniors and seniors in high school can leave high school early, receive high school credit hours for working a minimum of 15 hours a week and get paid a livable wage of $15 an hour. Those same young people can leave high school for any 2-year or 4-year state college university that accepts them, tuition-free.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

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Julia Sager
Julia Sager
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