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Watch now: Bloomington Council to appoint mayor pro tem

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The Bloomington mayor pro tem position is vacant. To fill it, the city council on Monday will nominate one of its members, then vote on the appointment.

BLOOMINGTON — City leaders on Monday will appoint a new mayor pro tem, after the previous titleholder was elected in April to lead Bloomington. 

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe served as the official temporary mayor to former Mayor Tari Renner from May 2019 to April 2021, while he was still the Ward 3 alderman on the Bloomington City Council.

Mboka Mwilambwe

Mwilambwe

Now that Mwilambwe is mayor, the mayor pro tem position is vacant. To fill it, Council on Monday will nominate one of its members, then vote on the appointment. 

When Mwilambwe was nominated in 2019 by former Ward 5 Ald. Joni Painter and unanimously approved as mayor pro tem, he was the most experienced member on the council. 

If that calculus directs Monday's nomination, Ward 1 Ald. Jamie Mathy — he has served a combined four years and three months on the council — could be in line for the appointment.

Jamie Mathy

Mathy

"There hasn't been much discussion on it," Mathy wrote Thursday in a text message. "I'll do it if nominated."

Mathy, a longtime resident who owns Red Racoon Games, 309 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington, first joined the City Council in February 2013 when then-Mayor Steve Stockton appointed him to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of former Ward 1 Ald. Bernie Anderson. 

Mathy ran for the seat that April, losing to Kevin Lower. Mathy ran again in 2017, winning the Ward 1 seat. He was re-elected last month after running unopposed. 

Bloomington Ward 1 Ald. Jamie Mathy takes the oath of office

Bloomington Ward 1 Ald. Jamie Mathy, center, takes his oath of office on May 1, 2021 as Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, left, and former Mayor Tari Renner, right, look on.  

While Mathy described the mayor pro tem position as "no huge deal," the role does carry some responsibility. 

In the absence or disability of the mayor, city code permits the mayor pro tem to preside over City Council meetings, call special sessions of the city council and exercise the other powers granted to the mayor under the code, like signing ordinances. 

While temporarily acting as mayor, the mayor pro tem cannot simultaneously vote as a council member. 

Mwilambwe led a handful of meetings while he served as mayor pro tem under Renner. The mayor pro tem before Mwilambwe — former Ward 6 Ald. Karen Schmidt — led six regular and special meetings in fall 2017 when Renner took a month-long medical leave of absence. 

The Bloomington mayor pro tem was also granted a set of circumstantial powers and oversights through a series of emergency ordinances adopted at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.


At least a dozen vacant, historic, commercial structures still dot the downtown Bloomington skyline.


For mayor-elect Mboka Mwilambwe, leading Bloomington will be 'another journey'

Council to amend utility shutoff ordinance 

Council on Monday will also vote to amend a portion of the ordinance it adopted in March 2020 declaring a local emergency due to COVID-19, related to utility shutoffs. 

City staff is recommending the Council approve ending the accrual of penalties on city water accounts, retroactive to March 12, 2021, when the city paused its billing system to convert to a new billing software.

The council on April 13 voted 5 to 4 to extend the year-long pause on water shutoffs, despite a recommendation from city staff to not reinstate it. That renewal of the moratorium means city residents who do not make payments to cover their water bills still will not experience interruptions to the service. 

"Since the City Council has not yet lifted the moratorium on water shutoffs, stopping the accrual of penalties will help avoid confusion and maintain consistency with intent of the shutoff moratorium," reads a staff memo attached to the proposed amendment.


Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert

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