In his first trip to the nation's capital, recently elected Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade said he was focused on building relationships.
“We did a lot of walking, a lot of visits, and we packed a lot of meetings in two days,” said Mobolade at the end of his short visit.
He was buzzing with energy, despite having skipped lunch to keep up with his busy schedule. Mobolade had visited Washington, D.C.m before as a tourist, but the new mayor found a different sense of the familiar walking into the U.S. Capitol complex — and not because of politics.
“I thought, ‘These are my people.’ I'm not proud of it, but I am a workaholic,” he said with a laugh. “And everybody [here] is moving. Everybody is going.”
After his last meeting on the Hill before heading back home to Colorado Springs, Mobolade said the trip was about laying the groundwork to be the best advocate he can be for his city. Mobolade is following a blueprint of goals for his first 100 days in office. That includes building relationships with federal lawmakers.
“It's the reason why I'm here … to ensure that, at an early stage of my administration, Colorado Springs has a great relationship with Colorado Congressional members as well as the rest of Congress, because there's 535 members," Mobolade explained. "I need the support of not just the Colorado folks, but the wider support to get things done.”
“Some of the congresspeople I knew before this trip, like [Sen. John] Hickenlooper. Others, like [Rep. Jason] Crow, I was meeting for the first time,” he said.
While meeting with the 10 members of the Colorado delegation topped his to-do list, the political newcomer also got to meet lawmakers from other states, such as Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. He also met with the National League of Cities and the United States Conference of Mayors.
For Mobolade, like other local lawmakers who come to D.C., the trip was a chance to make sure his city has a seat at the table on issues that affect residents, from Space Command to workforce development.
He said it was even more important to learn about any and all federal opportunities that could be coming down the pipe, which peppered his conversation with Colorado lawmakers.
“‘What conversations are you having? What bills are you hearing about, that you're trying to put on the floor?” he said, outlining his discussions with legislators. “Some of it is also, ‘Hey, you should know my city's having this challenge. I think other cities are [too]. Are you hearing the same thing?’
He hopes those questions will be the first step in planting the seed for future opportunities.
Mobolade said he was pleasantly surprised to see how well the delegation works together and that issues like Space Command were being tackled by the Colorado members in a non-partisan way.
He added that talking with the Senators and the Representatives, and getting to know them, was also a reminder that despite the political differences that are usually the focus of congressional coverage, everyone is human.
"They're regular people," he said. "And many of them share the same desire I have to serve.”
Mobolade will be back in the U.S. Capitol in September with an economic development contingent. He hopes they’ll build on the groundwork from this trip and be able to make a strong push for more resources and opportunities for Colorado Springs. Upon his return home, Moboloade said he'll be celebrating his 6th anniversary as an American citizen.
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