Mayor Tari Renner reflects on eight years in office; discusses future

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — An eight-year era is coming to an end Saturday, May 1, as Mayor Tari Renner turns over the keys to the city to a new leader.

At a ceremony Saturday morning, Mayor Tari Renner will officially become former mayor as he swears in his successor, mayor-elect Mboka Mwilambwe.

It’ll be the first time in eight years that the City of Bloomington has a new mayor. Renner said he enjoyed serving the city.

“It’s been the honor of a lifetime for sure and I tried to do everything that I could to move our city forward,” Renner said.

He said his biggest accomplishments are creating a more transparent government, making boards represent all of Bloomington.

“We’re going to make better decisions if we have people from the east-side, west-side, gays, straights, young people, old people, and everybody in between,” Renner said.

He also said he is proud of the achievements the city made financially under his term as well as urban revitalization.

“One related to that is the creation of an administrative court in Bloomington and that is the city has its own court now,” Renner said. “Before in the previous decade before I was mayor there was only one case that was filed against somebody with a dilapidated property in the entire time, now we have many every few weeks.”

“The word on the street used to be you can get away with anything in Bloomington, you cant get away with anything in Normal, that’s not the case anymore. We now are helping to improve that condition so absentee landlords who let their properties rot, we’re holding them accountable,” Renner said.

Ward 8 councilman Jeff Crabill worked with Renner for almost two years and describes him as a mentor. He said he always enjoyed working with the mayor.

“I think I’ll remember him pushing for things that improve the lives of everyone in the community, not just certain people or certain parts of town,” Crabill said.

As for Renner he plans to continue teaching political science at Illinois Wesleyan and take some time to collect himself.

“I want to spend a little more time with my friends and family and I’m actually looking forward to mowing my grass, (CHUCKLES) that’s kind of sad,” Renner said.

Renner said he doesn’t rule out a comeback in the next four or eight years, and said his eight years as mayor taught him a lot about himself.

“I think I’m a more thoughtful person than I was eight years ago and I hope I’ll continue to mature,” Renner said.

Renner said he hopes his successor, mayor-elect Mwilambwe will continue to promote a transparent government and continue to be fiscally responsible. He also leaves Mwilambwe with some advice.

“Being mayor, there’s a 24-7 expectation that you’re on-call and every time you have a hangnail, people will either criticize you for it or give you credit whether or not it was your responsibility,” Renner said. “Develop really, really, really thick skin; maybe a rhino hide on steroids, that’s really important moving forward.”

Renner will swear in Mwilambwe Saturday at 10 a.m. outside Bloomington Center for Performing Arts along with three newly elected council members.

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