Bloomington City Council member Mboka Mwilambwe says his experience and temperament make him the best choice to lead the city, starting next year.
Mwilambwe is running for mayor in April. He was appointed to the council in 2011 and has served two terms representing Ward 3 that covers much of Bloomington’s east side. He is the longest-serving member on the current council.
“I feel like we do need stable leadership to continue to build on what we have achieved so far,” Mwilambwe said. “I think I bring a sense of calm. I listen and I make decisions based on facts.”
Mwilambwe, the assistant director in Illinois State University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, also has served as mayor pro tem since 2019.
Mwilambwe said basic city services, including maintaining roads and sewers, are his top priority, along with economic development. He said the pandemic has placed greater focus on job creation as employers reassess their business models.
“We should be especially attentive because COVID has caused many people and businesses to realize that they can work remotely from anywhere, and I think that can work to our advantage where people and businesses would choose Bloomington as their home,” he said. “It can also work in reverse where they choose to locate elsewhere.”
But Mwilambwe said he has opposed some development projects, including a new downtown library or hotel, because the city can't afford them.
“In terms of being prudent with finances, I think that’s something we are pretty proud of,” he said. “We have been able to build a very strong reserve that has allowed us to weather the impact of COVID so far.”
Mwilambwe said he supports the Bloomington Public library's scaled-down renovation plans.
He also recently championed the city council’s recent adoption of Juneteenth as an official city holiday to recognize the official end of slavery in the United States.
Mwilambwe said he has advocated for more recreational opportunities in Bloomington, including the opening of Gaelic Park in 2012, and the addition of a cricket field at Eagle View Park.
He doesn't think the council needs to revisit a Welcoming Ordinance, saying he trusts Bloomington Police to be transparent to share information when federal immigration agents contact them about undocumented immigrants.
“Bloomington Police has said they do not have the kind of contact that people are worried about,” he said. “I think we have to have trust in what they are doing and continue to work together.”
Mwilambwe said he believes he can bring harmony to the council through leading by example. He said council members will disagree on some issues as they represent constituents of their wards, but that's OK as long as they work together.
“We are asked to make decisions on behalf of our constituents. Our constituents expect us to get along,” Mwilambwe said.
Mwilambwe is one of four candidates running for mayor next spring. The others are entrepreneur Mike Straza, former McLean County Board candidate Jackie Gunderson and educator Misty Metroz, a write-in candidate.
There's no subscription fee to listen or read our stories. Everyone can access this essential public service thanks to community support. Donate now, and help fund your public media.