Fernandez Sims Says Birmingham Needs A Servant Leader

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Brother Fernandez Sims speaks during a debate at the Woodlawn United Methodist Church.
Brother Fernandez Sims speaks during a debate at the Woodlawn United Methodist Church.

Sherrel Wheeler Stewart,WBHM 90.3 FM

Brother Fernandez Sims is a Birmingham minister. From his time in the pulpit and counseling people in the community, he says he sees the needs of Birmingham residents. He says he wants to be mayor to address those some of those needs.

Who is Brother Fernandez Sims?

Well, Brother Sims is a patriot. He has served his country and his community for over 35 years. He is one that loves Birmingham and is a Birmingham resident. He is one that wants to change Birmingham. Brother Sims is a man of the people. He has given his life to service to all all people in all places. So Brother Sims basically is a servant.

What prompted you to enter the race for mayor?

When we are elected to serve, we don’t serve ourselves. We serve the people. I saw the failing schools. I saw that we were the third most dangerous city in the country. And I saw a government that didn’t work for the people. So it was a burden to me that it is time to change the way that we do business in Birmingham for the citizens and for the city as a whole.

How do we fix the situations that you have just described?

To fix this system it is going to take people that are coming together, that care about Birmingham, to break down those barriers of division. We’re going to have to work together. We can’t address issues of crime if we don’t address the issues that they arise from, which is poverty,  lack of opportunity, lack of hope, lack of care, lack of resources. We have to address these issues in a foundational way. We’ve seen that Birmingham has been a city that’s right now going through dual grand jury investigations, federal and state. There’s corruption in this town and we must weed that out. We have communities that are blighted and plagued with hopelessness and abandoned houses in lots. We need to take care of our communities.

What is the role of the mayor in curbing the crime rate?  What would you do stepping into that role?

First of all, the mayor should lead by example. To curb violence, you have to curb it at City Hall first. In my administration, we would have free anger management classes. We would have free conflict resolution classes, and we would have free domestic violence classes. We have to reach the people at the level where they are. And this also would work hand-in-hand with me working with the school systems, because violence just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. And I would even have these character and behavior type of programs instituted in the schools in the third and fourth grade. There’s a lot of bullying and a lot of fighting there.

The school board and the city council and mayor’s office are all separate. What role should city government play in ensuring that people who live in Birmingham have a solid education foundation provided for their children?

Schools are foundational to our communities, and as a mayor he’s not just the mayor of everybody that can vote. He’s the mayor of those who can’t vote. And those are our children.

Where does the money come, because it doesn’t happen [for] free?

Absolutely. Birmingham City Schools have two or three funding school streams. You have state, federal and local funds. You can’t say I’m going to help someone without working together to help our school system. We need to be able to fund reading programs and math enrichment programs in the community. Our schools are struggling, and we want to be able to talk to the board of education and the superintendent of our school system and say how best can we come alongside you and help. We’re fueling a school to prison pipeline, and this faucet has to be turned off.

We know about the problems, but what is going well for Birmingham at this time?

What is going well for Birmingham is that people are starting to wake up to its potential. We see some people, mostly private investors, making investments in Birmingham. But on the other hand, we need to work with them. We need to work with the schools that can be improved. I see that Birmingham’s has nowhere to go but up.

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