BLOOMINGTON — Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower wonders whether there will be a fiscal conservative voice to replace his when he leaves the Bloomington City Council at the end of the month. 

“I don't know if that is going to happen,” said Lower the day after losing Tuesday's mayoral race to one-term incumbent Tari Renner. "That's up to the community. They voted."

Lower did not seek re-election as alderman so he could challenge Renner.

“Unfortunately, I don't think we have a strong representation as far as the conservative viewpoint," said Lower.

“I think we've got a lot of fiscally conservative voices," said Renner. "Conservative means to be prudent with your finances, and we've always had balanced budgets. We've always come in under budget. We have very low per capita debt."

Renner added, “We are going to continue to be very prudent, but what we're not going to have essentially is someone voting 'no' and never offering solutions.”

The mayor said he is "very excited about our new team,” adding that history will be made when the new council is sworn in May 1.

“For the first time in the history of Bloomington we're going to have a majority of women on the council," he said.

On Tuesday, downtown businessman Jamie Mathy recaptured the council seat he lost to Lower in April 2013. Mathy defeated self-described fiscal conservative Susan Feldkamp 737 to 418 to represent Ward 1 in south Bloomington. 

Mathy and Kimberly Bray will be the new faces on the council. Bray will be the new Ward 9 alderman, replacing Jim Fruin, who did not seek re-election.

She received 746 votes to defeat two other self-described fiscal conservatives, Greg Rodriguez, with 556 votes, and Sheheryar Muftee, 363.

Incumbents Mboka Mwilambwe of Ward 3, Joni Painter of Ward 5 and Scott Black of Ward 7 retained their seats.

“What I think we have is different perspectives on the council, but I think they are perspectives that can come to together on a wide variety of issues, including economic development," said Renner.

Renner said economic development and fixing the streets will be top priorities in his next term.

He wants to see the city move forward with getting requests for proposals to develop the site of the demolished former Mennonite Hospital/Electrolux headquarters at 807 N. Main St., which the city now owns.

Other top economic development priorities include assisting Eastland Mall's owners, who are dealing with the loss of several retailers, to reinvent the shopping center, and searching for a "strong anchor in downtown Bloomington,” he added.

“That could be any number of possibilities, but the private sector has been interested in a downtown hotel/conference center by the (U.S. Cellular) Coliseum," said Renner. "As I have said many times, any project has to pay for itself."

In the election, Renner won 33 of the city's 52 precincts, predominantly in the central, northwest, northeast and far east parts of the city.

Both Lower and Renner agreed that President Donald Trump's increasing unpopularity affected their campaigns.

“I think it may have hurt me a bit because a lot of the national issues came into the local scene where they don't really belong,” said Lower.

“I don't think there is any question that it helped me and the people who were offering a positive message for moving Bloomington forward, rather than just complaining and offering no solution," said Renner.

Lower said he tried to be businesslike in his disagreements, adding, “This business of being so visceral, I don't think it leans toward any kind of civil discourse."

He added that he is uncertain about his future in politics.

“It's really up to the people,” said Lower. “I am here at their request. If enough people want me to do something, I will try.”

Lower, who sells cars at Anderson Ford in Clinton and is a freelance professional pilot and flight instructor, said he still has a lot of other things to do, including flying airplanes.

"I plan to get back in the airplane at some point and do what I do best,” he said.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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