A Nigerian immigrant and businessman, Yemi Mobolade without political experience, will be the first elected Black mayor of Colorado Springs after he defeated Wayne Williams on Tuesday night in the city’s runoff contest.
Mobolade had received 57% of the vote to Williams’ 43% as of 7:15 p.m Tuesday. Williams conceded at about 7:30 p.m. When the second batch of results was released shortly before 9 p.m., the percentages hadn’t shifted.
Mobolade 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 while Mobolade is unaffiliated.
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 streak have shown in recent years. In the November election, Democratic Gov. 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,” an incredulous Mobolade said to kick off his victory speech. “Wow. Wow. I am speechless.”
Mobolade, a married father of three, moved to Colorado Springs in 2010 and quickly became a leader in the business community. He cofounded two popular restaurants — The Wild Goose Meeting House and Good Neighbors Meeting House — in Colorado’s second-largest city and served as its small business development administrator. He was also the 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 be become an inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe and vibrant city.”
Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, congratulated Mobolade.
“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 was an El Paso County commissioner and the county’s clerk and recorder.
He said he wished Mobolade the best 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.”
Williams outraised and outspent Mobolade in both the general election and Tuesday’s runoff.