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Incumbent Renner Bests Mayor Primary Field; Lower Finishes 2nd

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner took a step toward a second term as he easily outdistanced a crowded field of challengers in the primary election Tuesday. Renner totaled 3,667 votes, while Alderman Kevin Lower finished second with 1,450 votes. The two will face each other in the municipal general election April 4.

Third went to former talk radio host Ian Bayne with 1,067 votes. Rounding out the field was retired firefighter Robert Fike with 788 votes and Alderman Diana Hauman with 643 ballots cast.

Renner claimed victory early on at a party of supporters at Anju Above in downtown Bloomington. The incumbent had poll-watchers monitoring final results posted at each polling place, and tallied the results ahead of the official Bloomington Election Commission tally available online.

Speaking to a crowd of about 140 supporters, Renner said the victory was an endorsement of his tenure as mayor. He promised to work hard over the next five weeks.

Renner was asked how should the fact that he attracted four primary opponents reflect on his mayoral performance.

"Actually that is an excellent question. I would say though that what we have had is a group of people, a very small group, who were upset with city hall. And no matter how much I tried to reach out to them, no matter how much information, we were unable to win them over," said Renner.

Renner told GLT News he'll figure out a strategy to defeat Lower, who has served one term as alderman from Ward 1 on Bloomington's southwest side.

"He (Lower) has literally no record. He has never had a single ordinance passed in his entire four years. He has never tried to work with anyone to get anything passed. It's easy to make false promises. And I do have a record. People may not always agree with it. But, I have done something," Renner added.

While Renner included downtown accomplishments such as the Route 66 Visitors Center during the primary campaign, he was careful to highlight what he touted as citywide gains over the past four years. Lower, who campaigned on a platform of focusing on areas of the city outside of the central business district, said he'll be a watchful steward of taxpayers' funds.

Kevin and supporter shake hands
Credit Colleen Reynolds / WGLT
Kevin Lower greets former Bloomington Water Department head Ron Schultz, who was among supporters at Lower's primary election party. Lower advanced to the general election April 4 against top vote-getter and incumbent Tari Renner.

Bayne, who finished third, did not make himself available to GLT News as the results came in. Lower said he would "not align myself with Ian Bayne" but he said he would welcome the support of those who voted for Bayne. Both are regarded as political conservatives.

Fike said he would support Lower in next month's general election. Hauman declined to endorse either candidate, telling supporters via Facebook she'll use the experience of running for mayor "to be a better Ward 8 alderman."

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Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.
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