BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A recently elected candidate to Bloomington’s mayoral office has made city history.
Mboka Mwilambwe won last Tuesday’s election to become the next mayor for the city of Bloomington.
Come May 1, Mayor-elect Mboka Mwilambwe will officially become Bloomington’s first Black mayor in the city’s nearly 200-year history. Many community members said he will be an inspiration to future generations.
Winning 39% of the vote Tuesday, April 6, the Congolese-born Mwilambwe will take over the mayor’s office in less than a month for current mayor Tari Renner. Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson, First Vice President of the Bloomington-Normal NAACP said she is excited to get to work with the mayor-elect.
“We are definitely elated that we do have someone of color representing the city,” Campbell-Jackson said.
NAACP President Linda Foster said although it is still not a “post-racial” society, Mwilambwe’s election win is a start.
“Hopefully we’re getting to the point where we don’t have to say the first one,” Foster said.
Both Foster and Campbell-Jackson said the fight for racial injustice is still ongoing, but with Mwilambwe taking office, it gives young Black kids in Bloomington-Normal a role model in their own backyard.
“We believe that in that position, Mboka will be able to make some great changes, bring our community together, [and] allow our young people to see that they can be all that they can be,” Foster said.
“If they see it, they really can be it. And I’m feeling optimistic about that,” Campbell-Jackson said.
Mike Matejka is the founder of Not in our Town, Bloomington-Normal. He helped Mwilambwe in his first campaign for city council nearly a decade ago.
Matejka said Mwilambwe will find a way to work with all people.
“He’s very thoughtful. He’s very deliberate in what he does and he listens well and I think he is a good symbol of a diverse community,” Matejka said.
He said the election not only speaks volumes of Mwilambwe’s qualities as a person and leader, but also speaks to where Bloomington is as a society.
“But (it) also speaks to us as a community and our willingness to accept people from diverse backgrounds and see those individuals with their gifts,” Matejka said.
Matejka echoed the NAACP leaders and believes Mwilambwe will be a role model for future generations.
“Mayors are out at schools, at events, out in our community in lots of diverse circumstances and for young people to see someone who may look like them, may have a different background I think is going to impress youth that there is a place for them in this community,” Matejka said.
Mboka Mwilambwe currently works at Illinois State in the diversity office, is the councilman for Ward 3 in Bloomington and is the mayor pro-tem. He will be sworn into office on Monday, May 3.