Birmingham City Councilor William Bell announced today that he is officially a candidate for County Commission District 1. The special-called election will be held Feb. 5 to fill the commission seat vacated by now-Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford.According to Bell, his first priority is protecting Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The three-person Republican majority on the commission has considered selling the hospital to a private company or otherwise reducing the county’s role in healthcare for the poor and uninsured.
Bell noted that he has worked before with County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins when they served together on the Birmingham City Council.
Bell has run for the county commission before in 1994, when he lost to Jeff Germany. His recent political history has been a mixed bag of wins and losses. He has run three times unsuccessfully for Birmingham mayor, narrowly losing in 1999. In 2001, voters ousted Bell from city council seat, which he won back four years later.
Other candidates in the commission race include Kamau Afrika, Orville Ifill, Fred Plump, former Ala. Rep. Eric Major and George Bowman. In December, Gov. Bob Riley appointed Bowman to fill the vacant seat.
If Bell were to win the Feb. 5 election, the city council would appoint a replacement to the empty council seat until a special election could be held.