© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bloomington Welcomes ‘New Beginnings’ With 4 New Aldermen

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner marked the occasion as a time for "new beginnings" as the city swore in four new aldermen Wednesday.

The April election represented a significant shift for the city as it replaced nearly half of its governing body.

Donna Boelen swearing in
Credit Amy Niebur / WGLT
Bloomington City Clerk Leslie Yocum (right) administers the oath of office to Ward 2 alderman Donna Boelen.

Three aldermen chose not to seek-reelection: David Sage in Ward 2, Amelia Buragas in Ward 4 and Diana Hauman in Ward 8. Five-term incumbent Karen Schmidt lost to Jenn Carrillo in Ward 6.

"We have a new team and we have lots of challenges and a lot of hard work ahead," Renner told the gathering at the swearing-in ceremony at city hall. 

After the ceremony, the newly elected officials vowed to work together despite ideological differences on some issues.

Ward 2 Alderman Donna Boelen is a frequent critic of city council spending and critic of a so-called Welcoming ordinance. She said Carrillo, an immigrant rights activist, reminds her of her own children.

“She’s got a lot of passion, I remember having a lot of passion at her age,” Boelen said. “At my age I told her, there’s a lot of gray.

“So, I think that’s how we are going to work, the black and the white and the gray,” she quipped.

“I take it as a great compliment,” Carrillo said. “Donna and I sat down and talked and I don’t think they are as different as people want to think that we are. We are serving because we have the public’s best interest at heart.

“We are going to grapple with what that means and how we negotiate what that looks like, but I have a lot of respect for this woman setting next to me,” Carrillo said of Boelen.

Welcoming Ordinance

Jenn Carrillo swearing in
Credit Amy Niebur / WGLT
Jenn Carrillo was sworn-in as Ward 6 alderman on the Bloomington City Council on Wednesday.

Carrillo, who advocated for a Welcoming ordinance to protect undocumented immigrants, said Police Chief Clay Wheeler’s policy is a good start, but she wants the issue to come back before the council so that it can’t be changed when a new police chief is sworn in.

Wheeler announced his resignation after one yearon the job in part because of his wife's cancer diagnosis.

“We may have a new police chief in a couple of weeks, maybe months, that could decide to go in a different direction and that’s why (the city council) does policy,” Carrillo said.

Boelen made clear she would vote against any language in a Welcoming ordinance if it comes back before the council.

“Immigration is a federal issue. That’s how I stand,” Boelen said.

Julie Emig swearing in
Credit Amy Niebur / WGLT
Julie Emig was sworn in as Ward 4 alderman on the Bloomington City Council on Wednesday.

Ward 4 Alderman Julie Emig said she would like the new council to revisit a Welcoming ordinance, saying she has met with the local Immigration Project to assess its views.

“If it does come back I will be really interested in looking at the language and what it best for our city,” Emig said.

Ward 8 Alderman Jeff Crabill said he supported the Welcoming ordinance previously and hopes this council gets a chance to vote on it.

O’Neil Pool

Each of the new aldermen said they would like to see the city replace aging O’Neil Pool, but said cost should determine the scope of such a project.

“O’Neil Pool needs to be a priority going forward and that we can find a way to make that capital project work,” Emig said.

Jeff Crabill swearing in
Credit Amy Niebur / WGLT
Jeff Crabill was sworn in as Ward 8 alderman on the Bloomington City Council on Wednesday.

Crabill said the city should explore ways to pay for replacing O’Neil Pool without raising taxes, such as through a bond refinancing.

“I do think we need to do something with O’Neil Pool. I don’t know if it’s just the replacement of a pool or a new aquatics center,” Crabill said.

Carrillo said replacing O’Neil Pool is a “tremendous priority” for her.

“We will grapple with how we find that money,” she said.

Boelen said O’Neil pool should be replaced, but added the city will have to weigh the cost against its expected economic impact.

“Unfortunately, it’s been let go just like many other capital plans or improvements,” Boelen said.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.

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