May 16, 2023 - Politics

Colorado Springs voters to decide next mayor in runoff Tuesday

Wayne Williams (left) and Yemi Mobolade. Photos: Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Gazette

The most interesting mayor's race in Colorado is arguably not in Denver, but 70 miles south.

Driving the news: Voters in Colorado Springs today will decide the next mayor in a runoff election between longtime Republican Wayne Williams and unaffiliated political newcomer Yemi Mobolade, since neither received more than 50% of the vote in the April election.

  • If Mobolade wins, it would be the first time in at least 45 years the city elected a chief executive who wasn't affiliated with the GOP, Colorado Newsline reports. The Nigerian immigrant would also be the city's first elected Black mayor.
  • Meanwhile, Williams — who would've been the obvious choice about a decade ago — is facing a fractured GOP and has lost far-right supporters with his more moderate views.

Why it matters: The election is yet another sign the state's second-largest city is shifting politically, and its image as a conservative stronghold known for military bases and megachurches is fading.

  • The fabric of the community is changing — from its cost of housing to the way people vote.

State of play: Mobolade and Williams are two very different candidates.

  • The former, a small business owner and nonprofit founder, touts his status as a progressive political outsider ready to forge a new path as an "agent of good disruption," the Gazette reports.
  • The latter, a seasoned politician and Colorado's former secretary of state, is leaning on his lengthy experience in local GOP politics to seal the deal.

By the numbers: Mobolade made waves in April's general election when he swept the race with 30% of the vote — more than 10 percentage points higher than the 11 other hopefuls running, city elections data shows. Williams, who came in second place, gathered 19%.

  • The latest finance reports show Mobolade has raised more in the runoff, collecting about $186,000 compared to Williams' nearly $71,000. Mobolade also drew money from eight times as many donors as Williams in that cycle, the Colorado Springs Indy reports.

Yes, but: Overall, Williams has outraised his opponent with a total of roughly $1.1 million in campaign contributions — many from dark-money groups — compared to Mobolade's nearly $783,000, per the Indy.

  • And many political pundits predict Williams will consolidate the conservative vote to come out on top.

The big picture: Colorado Springs has a strong mayor system. Whoever is elected will not only have significant sway over its future, but also signal how far the political tides have turned amidst the state's major blue wave along the Front Range over the last decade.

  • The next leader also has big shoes to fill. Outgoing Mayor John Suthers has been credited with making major strides since stepping into office in 2015, like repairing his office's rocky relations with the city council and navigating a boom in population.

What's next: The city clerk's office is expected to post initial unofficial results at 7:30pm Tuesday, with more updates throughout the evening as ballots are tallied.

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