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Renner Won't Seek 3rd Term As Bloomington Mayor

Tari Renner gestures
Tari Renner has announced he won't seek a third term as Bloomington mayor.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner announced Wednesday he won’t seek re-election to a third term next spring.
"I'm turning the keys over to ...  somebody in much better shape than I found it," Renner said. "I'm certainly not going anywhere, so I am very happy to help continue this as we move forward." 

Renner, a political science professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, was first elected in 2013 and won a second term in 2017. He narrowly lost to incumbent Steve Stockton in the 2009 mayoral race. Renner had previously served on the McLean County Board and had a failed bid for Congress, running as a Democrat in the 11th Congressional District in 2004.

Renner cited government transparency, economic development, downtown and older neighborhood reinvestment as his top achievements, as well as creation of an administrative court to go after problem property owners. 

"It seems to me that in spite of the fact that there are a lot of capital projects that are on brink of being completed, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have someone with a fresh perspective come in to be able to hit the ground running and take Bloomington to the next level," Renner said. 

He said a new O'Neil Park aquatic center, new fire station for northeast Bloomington and library expansion are all projects he would like to see come to reality in the near future. 

Several colleagues on the city council praised Renner for the "boundless energy" he brought to the mayor's office. 

"He never waivers from the things he believes--a rare attribute in politics," said council member Scott Black. 

Council member Jamie Mathy said Renner brought passion for working with minority communities "and his leadership in building and funding our award-winning plan to pay down the Bloomington's pension debt."

Renner said he considered for months whether to seek a third term. He previously indicated his positive working relationship with City Manager Tim Gleason was a strong consideration in deciding whether to run again. 

No candidates have declared their intentions to run for mayor next spring. Renner said he's aware of someone who plans to run, but didn't say whether he plans to endorse any candidate. 

He said his successor will need vision, empathy and a "rhino hyde with body armor" to deal with public criticism. 

Renner sometimesclashed with critics and in 2015 the city council voted unanmiously to formally rebuke him for an online rant he made on a blog. 

Early in his second term in 2017, Renner took a leave of absencefrom the mayor's office for undisclosed medical reasons. That came shortly after Illinois State Police confirmed it was investigating the mayor,apparently regarding how a Bloomington-Normal Sister Cities trip to Japan was financed.  State Police have yet to announce any findings from that investigation. 

According to the Bloomington Election Commission, former city council member Jim Fruin and Arthur Haynes have taken out petitions for a potential 2021 mayoral bid.

Fruin told WGLT he was likely considering a run for the Ward 9 city council seat that he held for 10 years before leaving the council in 2016. He said he's re-evaluating his options after Renner's announcement.

Haynes, a local business owner and a leader of the West Market Street Council effort, told WGLT he has since decided against running in this cycle but may do so in four years.

Nominating petitions have to be turned in between Nov. 16-23.

City council seats in wards 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 also will be on the ballot in the April municipal election.

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