Johnathan Austin chosen as Birmingham City Council president - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Johnathan Austin chosen as Birmingham City Council president

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Johnathan Austin (File photo) Johnathan Austin (File photo)
William Parker being sworn in. (Photo: Jonathan Hardison) William Parker being sworn in. (Photo: Jonathan Hardison)
Mayor William Bell and newly elected city council president Johnathan Austin held a joint press conference today. Source: Jonathan Hardison/WBRC Mayor William Bell and newly elected city council president Johnathan Austin held a joint press conference today. Source: Jonathan Hardison/WBRC
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

The Birmingham City Council has selected its new president. Councilman Johnathan Austin was chosen by a vote of 5-4 on Tuesday morning.

The vote came shortly after the William Parker was sworn in to the city council to take over his mother's vacant District 4 seat. Maxine Parker, the previous president, died three weeks ago.

Austin was nominated by Marcus Lundy. Steven Hoyt also received a nomination from Jay Roberson. LaShunda Scales nominated Valerie Abbott, but Abbott declined the nomination.

Austin has been a frequent ally to Mayor Bell and his appointment as president is considered a win for the mayor's office.

The past four years with Roderick Royal as council president included lots of friction between Mayor Bell and Royal, including several memorable public spats during council meetings. The two rarely appeared in public together, but one look at today's joint press conference between Bell and Austin indicates this will be a new era.

"The city is really primed for sustained growth and development, and the mayor is at the helm of our city government, I think he's done a fantastic job," Austin said.

"A divided city government will not bode well for the progress of this city," said Bell. "And we're both committed to working together to make sure we give Birmingham every opportunity to take its place as a great Southern city."

But both were quick to say this doesn't mean all of Bell's initiatives will get a quick and easy 'yes.'

"It doesn't mean the council or the council president will be a rubber stamp," Bell said. "But it means we'll have an open conversation about those issues, and only about the issue. It's not necessarily about personalities. And that's what I look forward to."

Parker today said he will jump right into working on the environmental cleanup his mother championed in the Collegeville neighborhood.

"Be working with the mayor and the council and the neighborhood just to address the issues with the pollution," Parker said. "Just happy to be here and looking forward to working with the mayor and the council to move the city forward."

Congresswoman Terri Sewell issued the following statement about Austin's selection as the new city council president:

"I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulation to Birmingham City Councilor Johnathan Austin on being elected as the Council's new President. Council President Austin is a remarkable and dynamic public servant who has a strong record of working to enhance the wellbeing of Birmingham's residents. Through his work to expand Birmingham's technological infrastructure, protect the local environment, increase the city's bike lanes, and improve public health, Council President Austin has given our city much to be proud of. I know the City of Birmingham will be well-served under his leadership."

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