Black Alabama Mayor Will Finally Take Office After Settling Lawsuit Against Obstinate Town Council

Last summer, a Black man who was rightfully elected mayor in a small town in Alabama sued the town’s council members, accusing them of conspiring to hold an illegal election to reappoint the previous mayor and keep him out of office.

After a proposed agreement between the town and the soon-to-be mayor, he will become the first Black mayor to hold the position in the small town.

According to The Associated Press, Patrick Braxton should be recognized as mayor of Newbern if a judge approves the terms of an agreement between Braxton and the town of Newbern. Paperwork filed on June 21 should allow the town’s first Black mayor to take the position and permit the seating of a new city council if U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose gives the green light to the proposal.

“I’m pleased with the outcome, and the community is pleased. I think they are more pleased that they can voice their opinion and vote,” Braxton, 57, said.

Newbern, which has 133 residents, has a mayor-council government, but the town has not held elections for the past 60 years. Traditionally, the mayor would appoint his successor, while the successor appointed the council members. In a town that is overwhelmingly Black by a 2-1 margin, the mayor and council members were always white, according to the lawsuit filed by Braxton and others.

In 2020, Braxton decided to run for mayor of Newbern. Being the only person on the ballot, he was voted in and became the town’s mayor-elect. After winning the election, he appointed council members but was met with resistance from the previous mayor and council members.

In the lawsuit against Newbern, Braxton alleged that town officials “conspired to prevent the first Black mayor from exercising the duties and powers of his new job” and also prevented the town’s first majority-Black council from being seated.,The town officials changed the locks and refused to give Braxton access to town bank accounts. They also allegedly conspired to set up a special election and “fraudulently reappointed themselves as the town council.”

Under the proposed settlement, Braxton will take office as Newbern’s mayor and be granted town hall access. All “individuals holding themselves out as town officials will effectively resign and cease all responsibilities with respect to serving in any town position or maintaining any town property or accounts,” the agreement states.

Positions will be filled by appointment or through a special election. The town will hold municipal elections in 2025.

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