April 21, 2023 | OPINION | By Saigopal Rangaraj
Colorado Springs is in the process of electing a new mayor. Our new mayor will inherit a city with many exciting prospects; droves of people move here to benefit from residing in one of the most-livable cities in the US. Despite its many perks, The Springs is also at an inflection point.
We have ballooning challenges such as the increasing crime rate, scarce water access, wildfire risks, and a growing number of people in our community experiencing homelessness. Electing a new mayor who can address these challenges is crucial to the future prosperity of our city. This piece will make the case for Blessing “Yemi” Mobolade, to take over Colorado Springs’ top job.
Mobolade is one of two candidates that qualified for the runoff election, along with Wayne Williams. These candidates were whittled down from a field of 12, none of whom achieved over 50% of the vote share necessary to avoid a runoff. Mobolade bested current city council members, the county commissioner, and numerous other political newcomers to make it to this point.
Mobolade’s background is a major reason for his broad appeal. He moved to Colorado Springs in 2010 to start a church. He has since served as a ministry leader and has co-founded nonprofits that bring together members from over 100 churches to volunteer. In his 13 years in Colorado Springs, Mobolade has also co-founded two businesses – Good Neighbors Meeting House and The Wild Goose (both commonly frequented spots by Colorado College students). He also co-founded a consulting firm to help local businesses.
His professional journey in the Springs does not end there; he also served as the city’s Small Business Development Administrator and as the Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion for the Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corporation. Mobolade led and participated in many civic, professional, and religious spaces, in addition to fathering three children with his wife Abbey.
Mobolade’s background and vision connect with many members of our community. This is reflected in two key statistics: he has received donations from the highest number of unique individuals during the campaign and he also received the highest percentage of votes in the first round of mayoral voting – 27,000 votes in total, which is 8,000 more than Williams, the runner-up. These numbers enshrine the fact that more Colorado Springs residents trust Mobolade compared to his peers.
Mobolade’s journey to the runoff stands in stark contrast to his rival, Wayne Williams. Williams is beholden to corporate interests and receives most of his funding from large firms. Norwood, Colorado Springs’ largest developer, pledged to donate $1 million to his campaign. Williams’ closeness with this company risks our city’s future as Norwood owns 85% of developable land in the city. Williams would further this corporate behemoth’s monopoly in the Colorado Springs real estate market.
Beyond Mobolade’s background and fundraising, his appeal also comes from the policies he wants to implement. Mobolade has numerous policy proposals; however, his vision rests on three key pillars: safety, infrastructure, and economic vitality.
Colorado Springs has seen a 35% increase in violent crime. This trend is threatening to derail the city from its growth trajectory. To address this, Mobolade wants to expand access to mental health services and substance use disorder treatment, in addition to providing greater economic opportunities through grants for at-risk youth. He also wants to continue trust building exercises with the Colorado Springs Police Department and increase the training available to them.
According to a recent study conducted by the CSPD, Black and Hispanic members of our community are between 30% and 70% more likely to have a firearm pulled on them by officers when compared with white arrestees. To reduce this bias, Mobolade aims to increase de-escalation and use of force trainings in line with international standards.
Mobolade’s visions for infrastructure and economic growth are intertwined, as his proposals target both the city’s affordable housing crisis and attracting new businesses to the region.
Currently, only 24% of the Springs’ housing stock is considered affordable. To remedy this issue, Mobolade wants to incentivize development of new housing through tax rebates and the creation of a “missing middle” fund, a program designed to help people who earn too much for government aid but not enough to qualify for mortgages. He also hopes to recruit new businesses to Colorado Springs and launch a citywide reskilling program to boost incomes. Read more about Mobolade’s policies in his interview with CPR and on his campaign site.
Despite Mobolade’s lengthy resume and unique policies, he is far from the perfect mayoral candidate. On the business front, his partner Russ Ware was accused of financial mismanagement, while the Wild Goose lost a ruling against the Colorado Department of Labor regarding employee compensation due to the use of a shared tip pool.
Human beings make mistakes – a lot of them. We cannot and should not idolize our political leaders, as this would be akin to ignoring the mistakes that they make. Rather, it is our job, through informed debate and research, to pick the candidate who best reflects our values and has a clear plan for their time in office.
Disclaimer: Zoraiz and I are both international students and cannot express our opinions on the ballot without committing voter fraud. Instead of guaranteeing one-way tickets home, we wrote these Opinion pieces to do our part and encourage CC students to get out and vote. Use your vote to shape COS for the better. Regardless of whose article was more persuasive, do your own research and make sure to return your ballots by May 16 at 7 p.m.