Months of campaigning to succeed Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead ended Tuesday with Councilmember Tim Busse winning the election over challenger Ryan Kulka.
The candidates commemorated their campaigns among supporters. Busse, an eight-year city council member, garnered nearly 56 percent of the more than 17,800 votes cast.
“Bloomington voters made a statement that experience and proven leadership does matter,” Busse said during his victory party at Joe Senser’s restaurant and bar. “Community involvement matters.”
His election to succeed Winstead, who has served as mayor for 20 years, validated that Bloomington is “a well-run city with outstanding professional staff” and dedicated elected officials who are looking for what’s best for the entire community, he added.
Kulka, who gathered with supporters down the road at the 5120 Restaurant & Onyx Bar inside the west Bloomington Holiday Inn, reflected upon the accomplishments of his campaign, despite the losing effort. “We should consider this a victory,” he told his supporters.
“We’ve already effected so much change in Bloomington, how this city is running, and how this city council is approaching issues,” he said. “There’s a lot of backpedaling happening right now to gain more community engagement and community support on any number of issues,” he added. “That’s a testament to you guys for getting involved and making your voices heard.”
Kulka vowed to support the campaign promises he made, perhaps as a member of community groups advocating for positions that align with his campaign platform. “I think I can be a very influential voice or person of voice within those community groups, and I plan on doing that,” he said.
“We’ll get out there and we’ll make a change.”
Among the issues that generated significant discussion is the future of the city’s community center. Many agree that the aging Creekside Community Center needs to be replaced, but determining the scope and location of the project has eluded the city council, and discussion of replacing it in conjunction with the Valley View Park outdoor pool has stirred vocal opposition.
Prior to the election, the city council voted on preliminary architectural services for the project. Busse voted against the motion, citing significant reexamination and reconsideration of the concept, at the urging or residents.
“A community center discussion should be positive, it should be uplifting,” Busse said following the election. The project should bring the community together, but the Valley View proposal hasn’t done that. “I just don’t think Valley View is the site for the community center,” he added.
Unlike cities such as Chaska or Lakeville, where undeveloped 40-acre parcels were available for building a community center, Bloomington doesn’t have the same luxury, Busse noted. “How can we do this differently, not following the model that everybody else is using?”
Busse wants the council to consider another option, “developing centers of community as opposed to a community center.” He thinks that instead of combining all elements of a new community center on one site, parsing out the elements to multiple locations could be the city’s solution, he explained.
Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.