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Mayor-Elect Mwilambwe Wants Council To Formally Condemn Carrillo's 'Living Hell' Remarks

Bloomington Mayor-elect Mboka Mwilambwe will take office May 1.

UPDATED 12:20 p.m. | Bloomington Mayor-elect Mboka Mwilambwe said Monday that Jenn Carrillo should face a formal vote of disapproval from her peers over her public pledge after the election to make “life a living hell” for two newly elected council members.

Carrillo made those comments on Facebook after her preferred slate of progressive candidates went 0-for-4 in the April 6 election. She said she “looked forward to making Sheila Montney’s and Nick Becker’s life a living hell for the next 2 years,” referring to the Ward 3 and Ward 5 victors who defeated the two candidates she backed in those races. She also called Montney and Becker, who have never held public office, “dangerous authoritarians.”

Mwilambwe said Carrillo’s remarks were “unbecoming of a council member.”

“There are countless numbers of young people who look up to us,” he said. “Constituents who expect great service from us. Many of them have demanded and deserve better.”

Mwilambwe, who takes office May 1, said he’ll ask city staff to draft an “instrument that we’d consider at a special meeting, which would allow us to formally express our disapproval of those comments and actions in the strongest terms possible.” He’s also interested in staff developing a proposed Code of Conduct that would lay out expectations for council members.

“I believe it’s important for us to act. If we do not act, it would amount to a tacit approval of the behavior and the comments,” Mwilambwe said.

Carrillo responded to Mwilambwe’s remarks, which happened at the end of Monday night’s city council meeting.

“Thank you for your concern,” Carrillo said “I’m quite fine with the example I’m setting for young people in the community. Your disapproval is clear. There’s no need to waste anybody’s time with some formal process, I don’t think. But if you want to do that, that’s your prerogative.”

Mwilambwe won the three-way race for mayor April 6. Carrillo supported one of Mwilambwe’s opponents, Jackie Gunderson, who was part of the progressive People First Coalition. Gunderson came in third, behind second-place finisher Mike Straza.

It would not be the first time the council has moved to censure one of its own in recent years. The city council in 2015 effectively censured Mayor Tari Renner for calling a conservative blogger who was criticizing him a “total piece of garbage,” a “sick, dirty, slimy, ignorant fool,” and “the craziest human being I’ve ever known.”

Renner said Tuesday he was "shocked" by Carrillo's comments.

"It's important to move beyond the election phase. The (election) is over. We need to move forward with governing. That's why, if the council decides they want to move to some sort of rebuke—obviously I'm gonna chair the meeting if it happens while I'm still mayor—I think that's not inappropriate. I think a censure is, again, trying to punish someone locally for stuff that is a fraction of what we see at the state and national level. It's not an excuse, but it's an explanation."

Renner said his 2015 comments and Carrillo's remarks were "qualitatively" different. He said his words were aimed at a blogger, hers at incoming council members and colleagues.

What did his own admonishment mean to Renner?

"You don't brush something like that off, unless you're really a narcissist," he said Tuesday on WGLT's Sound Ideas. "I would assume that you would be self-reflective about something like that. My personality would certainly do that.

"It's usually hard to beat up on somebody who's apologized. I did apologize, but that didn't stop the process."

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.