Montgomery Elects Its First Black Mayor, Judge Steven Reed

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In a city that once served as the capitol of the Confederacy, voters in Montgomery, Alabama made history Tuesday by electing its first ever African-American mayor.

Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed came out on top in a two-to-one landslide, defeating Republican opponent David Woods in yesterday’s runoff election. AL.com reported. Reed, who surged ahead of a dozen other mayoral hopefuls in the primaries, snagged 67 percent of the nearly 50,000 votes cast in the historic race.

Steve Reed Elected as Montgomery's First Black Mayor
Judge Steven Reed made history Tuesday after being elected Montgomery’s first African-American mayor. (Photo: Steve for Montgomery / Facebook)

Woods, a local businessman and television station owner, won 15,891 votes or 33 percent, according to the outlet.

At his victory party Tuesday, the mayor-elect used his speech to promote a message of unity and said his win showed “what we can do when we come together in this city and we build around positivity.”

“This election has never been about just my ideas,” Reed told roomful of cheering supporters. “It’s been about all of the hopes and dreams that we have as individuals and collectively in the city.”

Reed’s victory marked a historic day for the majority Black city, which was home to several notable events in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, the city is just one “of three cities in six Deep South states with a population of more than 100,000 … that has not had African American representation at the highest executive position.” Reed’s win has signaled a new era in a city with a rocky racial history. 

Reed, 45, didn’t spend much of his time gushing over becoming  the city’s first African-American mayor. Rather, he focused on using the election as an opportunity to affect change.

“Today is about the vision, the vision we have for people far beyond this room,” the former judge said. “Some of the people who could not be here. “But it encompasses and it connects all of them. And that’s what we have been saying and that’s what we want to make sure we continue tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Because that is what is going to define this city. And that’s what’s going to define this election.”

“It’s going to be about the impact that we make on the lives of others,” Reed added.

In 2012, the young magistrate was elected Montgomery County’s first Black probate judge and became the youngest person to ever occupy the county’s highest elected office. Since then, Reed has built his platform on improving mental health outcomes via court reforms on the involuntary commitment process, strengthening election integrity and upholding the rule of law “by becoming the first Probate Judge the state to perform same sex marriages“ amid controversy over the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, according to his website.

His father, Joe Reed, is the longtime chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the state’s Black political caucus, and currently serves as vice chair of minority affairs for the Alabama Democratic Party.

Reed’s opponent, David Woods, is a businessman who’s never held political office but ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008. Prior to his loss Tuesday, the new station owner found himself at the center of a local controversy.

On Monday, Woods filed a restraining order against the Montgomery Election Center. His office filed an injunction against a decision that would bar the public and campaign poll watchers from accessing the local Election Center, the clearinghouse for all federal, state and municipal elections held in Montgomery County, during today’s runoff election, Alabama News Network reported.

Wells Robinson, an attorney for Woods’ campaign decried the effort, saying: “This is a deeply concerning decision for anyone who values open, free, and fair elections, particularly following numerous reported failures in the recent August 27 mayoral election.”

“The public is owed more transparency, not less,” Robinson added. “Closing the Elections Center to the public and the poll watchers leaves us with no choice but to appeal to the Circuit Court to ensure that tomorrow’s election is transparently administered.” As of early Tuesday afternoon there was no ruling on the Woods’ injunction motion.

Reed will be sworn as mayor at Montgomery City Hall on Nov. 12.

Watch more in the video below.