Jefferson County commissioner William Bell became mayor of Birmingham Tuesday with 54% of the vote, defeating lawyer Patrick Cooper.
Bell will serve the remaining 19 months in former Mayor Larry Langford’s term. Langford was removed from office after being convicted last year of federal pay-to-play charges related to the time he was on the Jefferson County Commission. There he helped orchestrate the ill-fated refinancing of the county’s $3.2 billion of sewer debt.
Bell, a Democrat, was among three of five county commissioners who opposed the county filing for bankruptcy as a way to resolve the crisis surrounding its sewer debt, which remains in variable- and auction-rate mode that is mostly held by banks. The county has defaulted on some payments.
No details are available yesterday as to how Bell will be replaced on the County Commission. When Langford left the commission to become mayor, a controversy ensued when the governor tried to appoint his replacement. Eventually, voters chose Bell in a special election.