Nigerian Businessman Mobolade Elected First Black Mayor of US City
A Nigerian immigrant and businessman with no political background, Yemi Mobolade, has been elected the first black mayor of Colorado Springs, United States (US). He defeated his opponent, Wayne Williams, a Republican, on Tuesday night in the city’s runoff contest.
Mobolade received 57% of the vote against Williams’ 43% as of 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Williams conceded at 7:30 p.m. When the second batch of results was released before 9 p.m., the percentages hadn’t shifted.
The Nigerian will succeed Mayor John Suthers, a former federal prosecutor and Colorado attorney general who was term-limited to become the city’s 42nd mayor.
Mobolade’s decisive victory represents a political earthquake in Colorado Springs, long known as a conservative stronghold. Williams is a Republican and Mobolade is unaffiliated.
According to media reports, just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine someone other than a Republican leading the city. But cracks in Colorado Springs’ GOP fold were recorded in recent years.
In the November election, Democratic Governor Jared Polis came within 4 percentage points of his GOP challenger, University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, in El Paso County. Several Democrats won state legislative seats in and around the city.
“Wow,” a surprised Mobolade said to kick off his victory speech. “Wow. Wow. I am speechless,” he added.
Mobolade, a married father of three, moved to Colorado Springs in 2010 and quickly became a leader in the business community. He co-founded two popular restaurants — The Wild Goose Meeting House and Good Neighbor Meeting House — in Colorado’s second-largest city and served as its small business development administrator. He was also vice president of business retention and expansion for the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation.
“This is our win,” Mobolade said. “We are Colorado Springs. It’s a new day in our beloved city. Do you believe that? Colorado Springs will become an inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe, and vibrant city.”
Governor Polis, a Democrat, said: “Congratulations to mayor-elect Yemi Mobolade on his victory,” Polis said. “I look forward to working with the mayor-elect.”
Williams is currently a Colorado Springs city councilman. He served as Colorado’s secretary of state until early 2019, and before that, he was an El Paso County commissioner and the county’s clerk and recorder.
He said he wished Mobolade success as mayor, noting that Republicans were split among candidates in the April 4 contest.
“I knew after the runoff was set that he had a substantial lead,” Williams said. “We closed the gap, but not enough… You had a number of Republicans running against each other in the first round, beating up on each other. And that had an effect that went into the second round.”