General George Bowman will serve the remaining five months of William Bell’s term on the Jefferson County Commission. Tuesday night, Bowman defeated Birmingham City Councilor Johnathan Austin to complete the unexpired term of William Bell.
Bowman finished the night with 2,188 votes. Austin came in second with 1,751. About 6 percent of District 1 voters turned out for the special election.
The two candidates will face each other again in July when they compete for the next commission term in the Democratic primary runoff.
For Bowman, Austin and Bell, the last few years have been a game of political musical chairs. In 2007, after then-Commissioner Larry Langford became mayor, Gov. Bob Riley appointed Bowman to the vacant seat. However, in a special election in 2008, voters chose Bell to fill the remainder of Langford’s term, instead. That move created a vacancy on the Birmingham City Council, which was in turn filled by Austin.
After a federal jury convicted Langford on public corruption charges, Bell won another special election, this time to move back to Birmingham City Hall as mayor. With that move, the commission seat has been vacant ever since.
Bowman and Austin are both running for the seat and because of a election law pileup, the two men have to run in two different elections for the same seat — one election to fill out the remainder of Bell’s term and another for the next four-year commission term.
Earlier this month, Bowman lead a field of 14 candidates in a race for the unexpired commission term, but Austin lead in the primary race for the next term. The first of those races was non-partisan, allowing Republicans to vote.