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Field Set For Bloomington-Normal Municipal Contests

Justin Grimes
After a bruising federal election in November, voters will return to the polls in just a few months to pick city and town council representatives.

There are three candidates for mayor of Bloomington plus a write-in, and two for mayor of Normal. The filing period for the municipal elections next year ended at 5 p.m. Monday.

Entrepreneur Mike Straza had previously announced he would run for Bloomington mayor after two-term incumbent Tari Renner said he would not seek re-election. Straza had initially planned to run for city council, but raised his aim after Renner's announcement.

City council member Mboka Mwilambwe was known to be passing petitions, and he also filed before the deadline. The third official mayoral hopeful is former McLean County Board candidate Jackie Gunderson, who lost a November board race against incumbent Susan Schafer. Gunderson and Mwilambwe work at Illinois State University. Educator Misty Metroz filed her intention to run as a write-in candidate, though her name will not appear on the ballot.

Mwilambwe said he was "approached by a number of residents" about running after Renner said he wouldn't be seeking another term. He said he hoped to unite the council and community around common goals, even when people disagree.

"Should the residents of Bloomington entrust me with this awesome responsibility, my plan would be to focus on basic municipal services and take care of what we have, grow our local economy by promoting Bloomington and work to bring us together as a community," Mwilambwe said in a statement late Monday. "I believe my experience being on the Bloomington City Council since 2011 uniquely positions me to understand the concerns of citizens but also how to work with staff and council members to achieve the best results for our community. While I have some ideas, I do not believe I have all the answers and I am always interested in hearing from constituents."

In the Town of Normal, Mayor Chris Koos will square off again against Marc Tiritilli, who lost to Koos in an extremely close race four years ago.

Bloomington council

The Bloomington Election Commission said the five candidates who filed to run for the Ward 7 council seat will trigger a primary election on Feb. 23. They are Daniel Freburg, Mollie Ward, Kelby Cumpston, June Peterson Middlebrooks, and Coretta Jackson. The primary will reduce that field to two for the April 6 consolidated municipal contest.

In Ward 1, incumbent Jamie Mathy filed; he is unopposed.

In Ward 3, the candidates are Derek Mead, Sheila Montney, and the Rev. Willie Halbert.

In Ward 5, Nick Becker and Patrick Lawler face off.

In Ward 9, former council member Jim Fruin and Tom Crumpler will contend.

Bloomington Township

Township Supervisor Deb Skillrud and Assessor Steve Scudder filed; both are unopposed.

Town of Normal

There are nine candidates for three positions on the Normal Town Council. The seats are at-large and represent the whole town, rather than a portion of it, as in Bloomington's ward system.

Incumbents Scott Preston, Chemberly Cummings, and newcomer Donna Toney filed just ahead of the Monday deadline. Filing earlier were incumbent Kevin McCarthy, Albert A.J. Zimmerman, Karl Sila, Brad McMillan, David Paul Blumenshine, and Steve Harsh.

There will not be a primary for Normal council races. The town clerk’s office said the threshold is 13 candidates for a primary this year, or more than four times the number of open seats.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.