A lot has been said about experience in the race for Birmingham Mayor. In two new videos, students and a member of the Birmingham school board shine a light on their personal experiences with Randall Woodfin speaking about his time and actions serving as President of the Birmingham school board. While the hard facts speak for themselves, information like the Alabama State Board of Education noting the number for failing schools tripled while he was President and three different superintendents were hired and fired over the same period, these post go beyond facts and figures though and point to the personal side of Woodfin’s tenure.
It all started last Monday when a voter posted on Facebook asking if anyone on the Birmingham Board of Education would share how Woodfin, also BOE member, got “along with them.”
Fellow school board member Cheri Gardner was quick to respond.
“I have worked with him for the last three and half years as a board member. I have known him for many more. I have always held him in high regard. It was only after l started to work with him as a board member did l truly meet the real person,” Gardner wrote in a Facebook comment. “What I learned is that he lies effortlessly. He is manipulative. Likes to [point] his finger in folks faces. Has tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He has even challenged me into a physical fight. I will only speak for myself but hopefully others will see this and are willing to share their experiences.”
The following day, Carlos Chaverst Jr., a local activist and Political Strategist at Touch Communications, sat down with Gardner for a Facebook live video to dive deeper into her accusations against Woodfin, probing her on the timing of her post and asking whether or not incumbent mayor William Bell paid her to write it
Gardner explained she only said what she did, when she did because someone had stopped and asked the question.
“If the post had not been there and no one ever asked me, I would not have said anything because I really didn’t want to get into the mayor’s race,” said Gardner.
As to whether or not Bell paid her to write anything, “absolutely not. I have never been paid by any political candidate to do anything.”
Then on Sept. 10, two Ramsay High school alums, Robyn Gulley, a sophomore are Birmingham Southern College and Joshua, a current UAB student, also took to Facebook to recount their personal experiences with Woodfin.
They spoke of a time in 2014, when their high school principal Dr. Evelyn Nettles was placed on administrative leave for unknown reasons. The two go on to explain the timing was questionable as students were about to start AP tests and final exams and students needed to focus on performing well.
When Woodfin, the president of the school board at the time, came to visit the school and put students at ease, Gulley claims he did the opposite.
“Throughout the time he was talking to us I never felt a sense of genuineness and if it kind of hurt us in the end, it didn’t matter,” she said.
Nettles herself took to the comments section to speak out against Woodfin.
In a second video, both students voiced their outright support for Bell.
“Vote William A. Bell October 3, 2017,” the students said in unison.
The comment sections to the videos, posted together on Facebook, reveal parents who share similar frustrations with Woodfin and his actions on the board:
Rather than address the videos or comments on his actions, Woodfin instead blamed the Bell campaign. Woodfin faces Bell again at the polls Oct. 3.