An independent mayoral candidate was poised Wednesday to defeat his Republican opponent to become the first elected Black mayor in the conservative city of Colorado Springs, Colorado’s second largest city.
The apparent win in Tuesday’s run-off election by Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant, is the latest political setback for Republicans in a state that was once a battleground state.
Mobolade moved to the city of nearly 485,000 residents known for its military bases and being a hub of evangelical Christianity to start a church just over a decade ago and went on to co-found a cafe and restaurant, according to his campaign website. He also worked in city government in posts promoting economic development and helping small businesses.
At an election night party, Mobolade cast his victory as a win for those who are looking for something different in politics and those who have become disillusioned with the “great experiment” of the United States.
“To anyone who doubts that politics can be disrupted, reformed and transformed into a hopeful experience, tonight is for you,” he said.
According to unofficial results Wednesday, Mobolade held a double-digit lead over his opponent, former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, in the officially non-partisan election. Williams conceded the race Tuesday night and urged the city council members who were attending his election party to work with Mobolade “to continue the progress we’ve been making.”
Mobolade would succeed John Suthers, Colorado’s former attorney general.
He would be the first mayor who is not a member of the Republican party to become mayor since the city started electing mayors 45 years ago, according to The Gazette. A Black man, Leon Young, who had been appointed vice mayor previously served as interim mayor after the elected mayor retired early, the newspaper reported.
The city’s population has been growing both larger and more diverse, with more than one-third of residents being nonwhite. After five people were killed at a gay club that was a sanctuary for the LBGTQ community last year, officials were careful to provide the prefered pronouns of the victims and unfurled a giant rainbow flag in front of city hall.