Mayor Chris Koos struck an optimistic tone Wednesday that the Town Council won’t become too divisive following the election of two new members who beat his preferred candidates.
Stan Nord and Karyn Smith were elected Tuesday in an eight-way race for three spots on the Normal Town Council, unseating incumbent R.C. McBride. Incumbent Kathleen Lorenz was re-elected to a second term. Nord and Smith campaigned side-by-side, raising concerns about the town’s work with private developers, including the financial incentives used to jumpstart projects in Uptown Normal. They also accused town leaders of not taking seriously the concerns of critics.
Koos endorsed Lorenz, McBride, and Normal Planning Commissioner Dave Shields.
“Going forward, we’ll see if there’s collaborative solution-making, or if things will be divisive,” Koos said on GLT’s Sound Ideas. “I don’t think things will be divisive. I don’t see that happening.”
Council member Jeff Fritzen did not seek re-election. Noting that Fritzen is politically right-of-center, Koos said voters responded to (his exit) by electing Stan Nord and Karyn Smith.”
“I think that had an influence on it,” Koos said. “I think it’s healthy for a council to not have everybody in one court. It’s always good to have a test of ideas ongoing with things. This has happened before. This is not something new and earth-shaking in the Town of Normal.”
Koos said any surprise in Tuesday’s results stems from the high number of candidates. In addition to the eight on the ballot, write-in candidate Karl Sila campaigned with Nord and Smith.
“There was a lot of vote-splitting from what I can see,” Koos said.
He said McBride, a former Democratic precinct committeeman and GLT's general manager, was most impacted by the vote-splitting. Also in the race were the progressive trio of Pat Turner, Joel Studebaker, and Alex Campbell, who campaigned side-by-side and watched results together Tuesday night.
“Yesterday Normal had a real progressive choice for the first time,” Studebaker said Wednesday on Facebook. “In fact, Normal had three of them. Our job is to make sure that choice is on the ballot every April election. There is no justice for any of us until there is justice for all of us, and so we keep fighting.”
There are seven members of the Normal Town Council, including Koos.
Meanwhile, the Bloomington City Council will have four new aldermen starting next month: Donna Boelen, Julie Emig, Jenn Carrillo, and Jeff Crabill. Carrillo defeated incumbent Alderman Karen Schmidt in Ward 6; three other incumbents chose not to seek re-election.
Mayor Tari Renner said Tuesday’s results don't reflect any overarching theme. He said voters in different wards were making different statements, but it will lead to a changing of the guard at City Hall.
“It is going to make a huge difference in our decision-making process, our culture on the council, our relationships,” Renner told GLT. “If you change one or two people out of nine, that makes a difference. Changing almost half the council is really gonna make a difference.”
Renner said the new aldermen are invited to a city council retreat later this month to help chart a course for the city's future.
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