Surrounded by supporters, Cooper said that he recently watched a video from the 1979 Birmingham mayoral debate in which those candidates were addressing issues of crime, education and unemployment.
“If you fast forward 30 years to where we are right now, we’ve got the same issues plaguing us,” Cooper said.
“Those are generational problems, and those generational problems require generational change and leadership. So, today, I throw my hat in the ring for mayor.”
Cooper plans to address unemployment with public works projects, and intends to improve the Birmingham City Schools by funding voluntary pre-K programs and expanding after-school enrichment programs.
Crime is another priority for Cooper. “We’re going to put money into the police department,” Cooper said. “We’re going to hire more police officers — we’re 200 officers short.” Cooper said he plans to put police substations in the most dangerous parts of the city.
Cooper used poetry to evoke a sense of hope in his candidacy, citing a Langston Hughes poem titled “Daybreak in Alabama.”
“Our city has been through a great storm,” Cooper said, “ and daybreak is here.”
While taking questions from the press, Cooper said the fact that he came first among white voters and second only to Langford among black voters in the last election gave him confidence in his second mayoral campaign. He also said that in his first campaign, many people didn’t know who he was.
Birmingham’s special election is in four and a half weeks. Jefferson County Commissioner and former Birmingham Mayor William Bell is considering a run. Acting Mayor Carole Smitherman declined to say Thursday whether or not she would be in the race.