Yemi Mobolade elected mayor of Colorado Springs in historic result
He will become the city’s first elected Black mayor
Political newcomer Yemi Mobolade speaks to a crowd of supporters after his election as mayor of Colorado Springs on May 16, 2023. (Courtesy Yemi for Mayor/Mandy Penn Photography)
The first in a trio of municipal elections to be held in Colorado’s three largest cities in 2023 ended on Tuesday night with a result that could send shockwaves through state politics.
Unofficial results showed Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant and small business owner, winning a resounding victory in the Colorado Springs mayor’s race. With more than 117,000 ballots counted as of 9:40 p.m., Mobolade had captured 57.5% of the vote, well ahead of former Republican secretary of state Wayne Williams with 42.5%.
Mobolade, who is politically unaffiliated, will become the city’s first elected Black mayor — longtime City Council member Leon Young briefly served as interim mayor in 1997 — and its first mayor not to be affiliated with the Republican Party in at least 45 years.
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“It’s a new day in our beloved city,” Mobolade said to a cheering crowd of supporters at his campaign watch party. “We’re ready for leadership that represents all of our city, and I’m ready to serve as the 42nd mayor of Colorado Springs.”
Mobolade turned heads with his first-place finish in the first round of mayoral voting last month, capturing 30% of the vote in a city that has long been known as Colorado’s largest conservative stronghold.
Williams, a longtime fixture in Colorado Republican politics and a frequent foe of election conspiracy theorists on his party’s fringes, maintained a fundraising edge over Mobolade throughout the six-week runoff campaign, running ads blasting the first-time candidate as “too liberal for Colorado Springs.”
He called Mobolade to concede shortly after the first returns were released by the city clerk’s office at 7:15 p.m., KRDO reported.
“I believe that the future of Colorado Springs is still strong,” Williams told supporters in a brief concession speech.
Mobolade will be sworn in as mayor on June 6 — the same day that voters in Denver, the state’s biggest city, will decide a runoff mayoral election of their own, between former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce head Kelly Brough. Voters in Aurora, Colorado’s third-largest city, will also elect a mayor in November.
Mobolade pitched himself to voters as a moderate who would make Colorado Springs an “inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe and vibrant” city. He struck broad notes of agreement with Williams and other conservatives when it came to tough approaches to issues of crime, policing and homelessness, and he rejected Williams’ claims that he supported collective bargaining rights for city employees.
But his election as an independent in the heart of deep-red El Paso County could spell a seismic shift in Colorado politics, cementing a shift towards Democratic control that has turned key swing districts in metro Denver solidly blue and traditionally highly conservative areas to the south into the next battlegrounds. Some election watchers on Tuesday night predicted that U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, could face a competitive race in the 5th Congressional District in 2024.
To cheers from his supporters, Mobolade embraced the city’s potential political transformation in his victory speech Tuesday.
“To anyone who doubts that politics can be disrupted, reformed and transformed into a hopeful experience, tonight is for you,” he said. “We showed it can be done.”
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