A closer look at Tari Renner

Isabella Parish

Renner speaking at the annual MLK Teach In hosted by IWU.
Photo: Illinois Wesleyan University

Mayor Tari Renner is a well known figure at IWU as well as  in the Bloomington community. After eight years of being the Mayor of Bloomington, Renner decided that he will not run for re-election this April. The juggling act between teaching and being the mayor has been wearing on him as it would anyone. 

His choice to not seek re-election was a very difficult one. Renner believes he could do more for Bloomington but at this time he wants to reorient himself with IWU and be more involved in that community. Even though Renner personally feels he could do more, his list of accomplishments is by no means short. 

“When I came in, I was coming in to be reformative. Bloomington was not responsive to the needs and issues. A lot of things were questionable and shady,” Renner said. The political system Bloomington had was closed off to the public in Renner’s opinion. In response, Renner started a program similar to a professor’s office hours with his position as mayor.

Over the years, Renner was able to make Bloomington a revitalized town full of economic potential using his plans to better the town and make it more cutting-edge. 

“The word on the street used to be you could get away with anything in Bloomington but not in Normal and that has certainly changed,” Renner said in regards to dilapidated properties. Dilapidated properties are run-down properties due mostly to neglect. 

In 2014, Bloomington had only one case filed against dilapidated properties in the last decade. In 2021, there are at least three a week. Landlords are no longer able to be absent or not keep up with their properties. 

Public transportation has also been a huge part of Renner’s focus during his time as mayor. The system has greatly improved which has helped Bloomington grow. Before 2016, there was no bus service on Sundays, which was a huge loss for many working people. Every year since Renner was elected, Bloomington and Normal put in almost one million dollars for Connect Transit. The award for the Best Small Metro Mass Transit System in all of North America was even given to this improved system. 

Over the years, Renner has had to develop a thick skin because of all the criticisms and complaints that he has faced. He also values the special relationship between the people and the mayor. Even though Renner is no longer running for mayor, he is still paying attention to the upcoming election. He believes that the candidates need to be more genuine and truly show who they are as people. “This is not about box checking and spewing out talking points,” Renner said. 

During his time off from mayoral duties Renner has a lot of plans, possibly even writing academic books. He plans to write about how he is one of the very few who has been elected to be a Metropolitan mayor as a political scientist. Renner is also excited to finally be able to read leisurely for the first time in eight years. “I am excited to read more political science books and things I do not have to read. And re-reading things and reflecting,” Renner said.

His involvement in Bloomington will not be going away. Politics has always been in his blood, it is what he does. He will not be going anywhere, even before he was mayor he was involved in politics and he plans to continue that. As for IWU, he will be jumping in head first and focusing his energy on the issues that face the school.

Even though Mayor Renner will not be his title for much longer he is not ruling out another run. 

“I may run again in four to eight years, you never know,” Renner said.