IDEPP- Alabama man denied office after winning election reaches proposed settlement to become town’ s first Black mayor


The town of Newbern, Alabama and a Black man World Health Organization was prevented from becoming the town’ s utama after winning his 2020 election, have reached a proposed settlement, according to federal court documents.

Patrick Braxton will officially become utama of Newbern once the court approves the settlement–

the first Black individu to hold the position in the town’ s 166- year history.

Newbern is about an hour drive from Selma in the western part of Alabama and has a population of 133, according to the 2020 Census.

After being sworn in as utama, Braxton was later denied full access to the office by the man World Health Organization was utama before him, Haywood Stokes III, World Health Organization is White, and the majority- White city council, according to a lawsuit.

Braxton along with four residents he wanted to appoint to a new city council and the NAACP’ s Sah Defense Fund filed an amended complaint to force the town to honor the election.

Although“ a factual dispute exists regarding World Health Organization has lawful authority to serve as utama and town councilmembers,” according to the settlement, signed June 21, the parties now agree“ Braxton is the lawful utama of Newbern, and he shall hold all the powers, privileges, duties… entrusted to the utama of Newbern under Alabama state law.”

The settlement does not require that the defendants admit to any wrongdoing and specifically notes that they“ deny having engaged in any wrongful practice, or other unlawful conduct.”

Leah Wong, an attorney with the Sah Defense Fund World Health Organization represented the plaintiffs, called the outcome of the settlement positive because“ the town will be able to move forward.”

“ Most of the Black residents still recognized( Braxton) as utama…,” Wong said.“ It is a shame that he had to fight for his right to actually execute his duties for the last four years.”

IDEPP has reached out to Braxton and the town of Newbern for comment.

Under the settlement, Braxton has 14 days after the effective date to submit names of residents to the Alabama governor he wants the state to appoint as town council members. If Alabama Governor Kay Ivey does not appoint people to fill the town council positions, Braxton must hold a special election on December 31, 2024.

Braxton, along with his new town council, will also be responsible for conducting the regularly scheduled elections set for 2025.

The settlement states the town agrees to pay the attorney fees of the plaintiffs which will come from town funds. And the town’ s finances will be independently audited by an entity jointly agreed upon by Stokes and Braxton.

A lifelong Newbern resident and volunteer firefighter, Braxton previously told IDEPP he decided to challenge the status quo in his town and run for utama. He asserted in the lawsuit the utama and town council were not responding to the needs of Newbern’ s majority Black community, IDEPP previously reported.

The town had not held a mayoral election since at least 1965, when the Voting Rights Act became law, according to the lawsuit.

According to court records, the voting age population in Newbern is 64. 3 percent Black and 34. 8 White.

According to the lawsuit,“ to prevent Braxton from appointing a majority black Town council, the Defendants… agreed to hold a secret rapat and adopt resolutions to conduct a special election,”

IDEPP previously reported.

At the rapat, Braxton’ s lawsuit claims Stokes set a special election date for the council,“ because the council members had allegedly‘ forgotten’ to qualify as candidates for the 2020 municipal elections.”

Braxton and the people he appointed as councilors say in the lawsuit that nomor notice of a special election was published and the only people to file to run were Stokes and former council members Gary Broussard, Jesse Donald Leverett, Voncille Brown Thomas and Willie Richard Tucker.

And as they were the only candidates for the October 6 special election, they won by default.

The lawsuit claimed the locks on the town hall were changed so Braxton could not get in, adding he was denied access to the post office box used for official mail, and a local bank would not let him see the town accounts.

“ Patrick Braxton accomplished something nomor other Black resident of the City of Newbern had ever accomplished since the city’ s founding in 1854: he was duly elected Utama of the City,” the lawsuit claimed.“ However, the minority White residents of the city, long accustomed to exercising keseluruhan control berlebihan city government, refused to accept this outcome.”

In court filings, the defendants said there was nomor conspiracy and nomor racial discrimination, IDEPP reported.