Birmingham Mayor William Bell was forced into a runoff in Tuesday's municipal election, after trailing challenger Randall Woodfin. With 99% of precincts reporting, Woodfin, the city's former school board president, took 15,656 votes, or 41 percent, to Bell's 14,011, or 37 percent. The results were a stunning setback for Bell, who has eemayor in 2010. Bell said the turnout failed to meet expectations. He also congratulated Woodfin on his showing. Woodfin said the results portend a "change election." A largely desultory campaign was shaken up last week, when Bell ordered crews to conceal a Confederate monument in Linn Park. Opponents accused Bell of pandering, and the move triggered a lawsuit from Alabama's attorney general, who said Bell broke a new state law protecting historical monuments. Two city council members, Kim Rafferty and Jonathan Austin, were also forced into runoffs. Austin, the council president, faces challenger Darrell O'Quinn; Rafferty is opposed by Hunter Williams. The runoffs will be held Oct. 3.
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