Montgomery Elects Its First Black Mayor

The city of Montgomery, Alabama has elected a Black mayor for the first time in its 200-year history.

Montgomery County Judge Steven Reed won a runoff election on October 8 against television station owner David Woods by more than 16,000 votes. Reed will replace the city’s current mayor, Todd Strange, who did not seek reelection.

"Let the record show tonight, above all... what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity, around opportunity, and all the things that tie us together versus those things that keep us apart," Reed told supporters following his win, according to the news station.

Reed will be sworn into office on November 12. In an interview with WSFA, Reed said he has a vision to unite the city of Montgomery.

“I think our vision for a better Montgomery. Our vision for a united Montgomery, and our vision to create better opportunities for everyone and I believe our concise vision that was very consistent from the day one is something a lot of people listened to.”

“I believe people really were attracted to that. They really were interested in some of our ideas and that energy and that enthusiasm that we felt so many days in the community is going to churches, going to community centers, going to neighborhood programs, we felt the energy there and we felt that energy in some unlikely corners for some. So we knew the message was resonating, and we knew that somewhere along the line, we knew that we were making a difference and that we were connecting, and I think that’s why we had the results that we had tonight.”

Woods also congratulated Reed on his win, telling his supporters that “a unified Montgomery is a lot stronger than a divided Montgomery. We want to go forward in a sense of unity,” according to the news station.

Reed announced his mayoral bid in February. Throughout the campaign, the judge ran on increasing support for schools, bringing more jobs into the city able to pay living wages, and expanding Montgomery’s police force, WSFA reported.

The judge received an endorsement in August from Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris after qualifying for the runoff election.

“It’s time for a new generation of leadership in Montgomery, one that is focused on inclusion, economic growth, and improving public education. I’m proud to endorse him for Montgomery mayor,” Harris previously tweeted.

Mayor Strange commended both candidates following the results of the election and congratulated Reed on his win.

“Well, obviously, it’s been a hard fought time from 13 down to two," Strange told WSFA. "You have to give credit to those that are in the arena. Steven, obviously, winning this evening, I’ve talked to him, congratulated him, placed our transition sport. We’ve been meeting with both of them in a transitional fashion, now we can focus directly with Steven. There’s a lot of information to impart to him.”

In 2012, Reed was elected Montgomery County’s youngest and first Black probate judge. He was re-elected without opposition in 2018, WSFA reported.

Reed is not the only elected official who is making history this year. In April, Lori Lightfoot became the first African American woman and the first openly gay person to be elected as mayor in Chicago. Lightfoot defeated City Council member Toni Preckwinkle, also a Black woman, with 73.7 percent of the votes, the Associated Press previously reported.

“In this election Toni and I were competitors, but our differences are nothing compared to what we can achieve together. Now that it’s over I know that we will work together for the city that we both love,” Lightfoot previously said following her win. “Today you did more than make history, you created a movement for change.”

Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, has never been elected to public office prior to her win. The Democrat previously told CNN she was ready to bring change to Chicago.

“This is something obviously that we’ve been talking about, the historic nature of the election, for some time, but I think the most historic thing was beating the old, entrenched Chicago machine and getting such a resounding mandate for change,” Lightfoot said at the time.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.