BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — CBS 42 hosted a runoff debate for Birmingham City School Board’s first district Tuesday night.
The digital debate featured incumbent Doug Ragland and challenger Sherman Collins, Jr. It was hosted by digital anchor Phil Pinarski and moderated by digital reporter Lee Hedgepeth.
Ragland and Collins discussed a wide variety of issues including COVID-19, virtual learning, charter schools, their first jobs, and whether they’ve had any regrets in their professional lives.
On the the issue of COVID-19, both Ragland and Collins agreed that vaccines for the virus should eventually be mandatory for students. Collins seemed less emphatic on the issue, mentioning that vaccinations should be a “family decision.” Both candidates said they would be in favor of moving to virtual learning if current trends in COVID-19 infections continue.
Both Ragland and Collins said they were against the expansion of charter schools in Birmingham, although Ragland seemed less resistant to the idea of those who choose to send their students to charter schools. He said that parents should be able to make choices to meet their children’s needs, but that he is an advocate for Birmingham’s public schools.
Both candidates were asked about their first jobs and the lessons that came along with it. Collins said his first job was cutting grass around his neighborhood in Norwood. Ragland said his first professional job was as a teacher.
Both candidates were also asked if they had any professional regrets. Both Collins and Ragland said they did not.
In the last portion of the debate, things became more tense. Candidates were given the opportunity to ask each other a question.
Ragland outlined what he characterized as misrepresentations made by Collins about the latter’s time on the school board and asked the challenger why he made such “misrepresentations.” Collins responded by refuting the claims, saying that voters should do the research for themselves.
When the time came, Collins asked Ragland how he would fight against charter school proponents that have been elected to the school board when he is in the minority. Ragland said that he is only one member of the board and that while he will work collaboratively with other members, the majority rules.
CBS 42 plans to host debates for all four municipal runoff races in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more coverage.
The runoff election will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5.
If you are not currently registered to vote, the last day to do so is Monday, Sept. 20. You can register to vote online here.
Watch the entire debate in the video player above.