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WGLT is committed to helping you become an informed voter ahead of the April 6 local election.

3 Newcomers Win Bloomington Council Races; Progressive Coalition Goes Winless

Bloomington city council candidates
Bloomington city council candidates (clockwise from upper left) Sheila Montney, Nick Becker, Tom Crumpler, Mollie Ward.

It appears several newcomers will soon join the Bloomington City Council, while the progressive People First Coalition was shut out in its three council races.In the closest race, based on unofficial election results posted Tuesday night, Ward 9 candidate Tom Crumpler, a retired Illinois State University professor, led Jim Fruin, a real estate agent and previous city council member, by 19 votes to represent Bloomington’s east side.

election watch party
Credit Emily Bollinger / WGLT
Bloomington City Council candidate Patrick Lawler addressed campaign supporters at an election watch party on Tuesday.

Crumpler said the issues he focused on -- fiscal responsibility and improving infrastructure -- were well received by voters.

“My message was consistent throughout the campaign, and I really think what won voters over for me was me making a promise to listen to their concerns about what’s best for Bloomington and what’s best for our ward,” Crumpler said.

Council member Kim Bray did not seek re-election in Ward 9.

The votes won’t be official until all outstanding mail-in ballots are counted on April 20. Candidates who finish within 5% of the winner can request a discovery recount.

Fruin was not available for comment.

In Ward 3 on Bloomington’s east side, Sheila Montney, a State Farm executive, secured 68% of the vote compared with 32% for Willie Holton Halbert, an NAACP leader and state Department of Corrections retiree.

Montney said talk of reducing police funding was one example where she feels the council has fallen out of touch with the public.

“As I look back over the council’s agendas over the last 12 to 18 months, it seems the time the council has spent on agenda topics don’t really necessarily align with what the folks were telling me about as I went door to door,” Montney said.

In Ward 5, which includes Bloomington’s near-east side, Nick Becker finished 200 votes ahead of Patrick Lawler, a social studies teacher at Normal Community High School. Becker works for a data storage company.

Becker, like Montney, was supported by the union that represents Bloomington police officers. He said he believes police funding likely swayed many voters in the campaign.

“I would think that probably played a part in it,” Becker said. “If you look across any area in the state or the country, the majority of people, 70-plus percent are generally against defunding the police.”

Incumbent Joni Painter did not run for re-election in Ward 5.

Incumbent Mollie Ward became the first woman elected to represent Ward 7 on the council. That area covers Bloomington’s northwest side.

Ward, the director of spiritual services at Carle BroMenn and Carle Eureka hospitals, came out 157 votes ahead of Kelby Cumpston in the lowest-turnout contest of all of the city council races.

Ward, who was appointed to the seat last fall, said she wants to see the city push for a comprehensive plan to address violence in the community.

“In the last few months alone, we have had a number of shootings and fatalities and that's something that I’m pretty passionate about, have been for years,” Ward said.

Cumpston is a project manager in affordable housing construction. He along with Halbert and Lawler were part of the People First Coalition.

“Running as a slate of progressive candidates was risky, but I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Cumpston said in a statement. “The fact that Ward 7 had two social justice-oriented candidates on the ballot reflects the values of the ward.”

Council member Jenn Carrillo, who represents parts of downtown and west Bloomington in Ward 6, campaigned on behalf of the People First Coalition candidates.

She said in a Facebook post Tuesday night she plans to make the lives of Montney and Becker “a living hell for the next two years.

“They’re dangerous authoritarians who got bought out by the police union. I have no interest in seeking unity with people who stand for everything I stand against,” she wrote.

In the other race, incumbent Jamie Mathy was elected to a second term in Ward 1 that includes neighborhoods south of downtown. Mathy, who owns a game store in downtown Bloomington, was unopposed in Tuesday's election.

New council members will be sworn in May 1.

Editor's note: WGLT corrected this story to indicate Crumpler's retirement from Illinois State University.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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