Political newcomer Yemi Mobolade likely headed to runoff in Colorado Springs mayor’s race

Jess Hazel/KRCC News
Voters drop off their ballots at the Centennial Hall drop box in downtown Colorado Springs on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Updated 4:05 p.m. April 6

The race for mayor in Colorado Springs is heading for a runoff. Political newcomer Yemi Mobolade garnered the most votes, but did not break the more than 50 percent of vote threshold to win outright. His lead sat at more than 11,000 votes as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when the final unofficial results were released.

Current city councilman Wayne Williams and former regional lawmaker Sallie Clark are in a tight race for the second spot and place on the runoff ballot, with around 1,546 votes separating the two.

In an email late Wednesday afternoon, Clark thanked her supporters. "I hope that the two remaining candidates for Mayor heard the voters loud and clear," she wrote. She also said she is withholding any endorsement in the runoff at this time and not yet conceding.

The results are unofficial until they're certified by the city clerk's office on April 14. Overseas and military ballots can still be counted, and ballots can be cured, through 5 p.m. on April 12.

Clark said Thursday that she's waiting to see if those military and overseas ballots will make a difference.

"I want to know the facts and how things stack up, and then we'll kind of go from there," she said. "But at this point, I'm not conceding."

Clark also said she's waiting for clarification on recount rules. If an automatic recount doesn't occur, she said she would not ask for one. According to the city, rules indicate an automatic recount would only occur if there was a difference of one half of one percent between two candidates.

"Whatever the vote comes to, it's what the voters have decided and I'll respect that. But at this point, I'm just trying to get answers to some questions as we look at the runoff and where this goes from here," Clark said.

Former Secretary of State Williams said he believes he’ll be the candidate running against Molobade in the May election, but respects Clark’s right to wait until every single vote is in.

“Every ballot will be counted and the results are not official till they are but we feel pretty confident,” he said. “I've been involved in running elections in a number of jurisdictions including the State of Colorado. And we believe that the current lead is sufficient given the small number of cures and small number of UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act) ballots likely to come in.”

He said his campaign has gotten a lot of phone calls, text messages and emails from people who were on the sidelines or were aligned otherwise and he’s, “actively working to obtain support from individuals and groups who may have supported other candidates, as well as those who may have been neutral in the race.”

As of the final update around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, slightly nearly 110,000 active registered voters had cast a ballot, bringing the turnout to just over 35 percent. That falls in line with other municipal-only elections, though it is lower than previous mayoral elections.

Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Yemi Mobolade.

Mobolade said he's already preparing for the May 16 runoff. 

"I call it the longest job interview," he said, "and I have to prove to this community that I am the leader for the job."

Colorado Springs resident Chris Binkley dropped his ballot off downtown on Election Day. He said he is hopeful for change in the mayor's office. 

"It’s time for a new, younger face," he said. "…someone who represents a younger generation and a better future for our city and our state." 

The leading candidates in the race for mayor identified similar priorities in their campaigns. Those same issues have been top of mind for many voters, too.

In a survey sent out by KRCC, Mobolade said he would prioritize safety, growth, and the economy. Williams, a former Secretary of State, listed similar issues. He also said he would emphasize collaboration. Clark added tackling homelessness to a checklist of similar concerns. 

Resident Vanessa Barton cast her ballot on Election Day.

"I think it's our responsibility as community members to take part any time there's an election," she said. "So of course, voting for that — mayor, our city council folks."

Voters also chose three new at-large city councilors. As of the latest results, David Leinweber, Lynette Crow-Iverson and Brian Risley held those spots.

In the race to fill the unexpired term for District 3, Michelle Talarico was leading by 1,444 votes.

As for the lone ballot measure, voters were overwhelmingly supportive of an extension of an existing sales tax aimed at helping fund park and open space acquisition and maintenance, known as TOPS.