On April 4, 2022, Yemi Mobolade was on stage in front of a large, circular fountain in front of an even larger, snow-capped mountain. The crowd hushed as he began to speak. “I’m not a politician or a public speaker,” he said. “My heart is for the city of Colorado Springs.”
Born in West Africa, Mobolade is a U.S. Citizen, a resident of Colorado Springs since 2010, a community leader, a small business starter, a husband, and father of three. And, in his own words, he is “obsessed with all things city-flourishing.”
Looking at his resume, it’s easy to tell this is the case. He served as the Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion for the Colorado Spring Chamber & Economic Development Corporation. He co-founded the Wild Goose Meeting House, Good Neighbors Meeting House, Niche Coaching & Consulting, and has established a church. He was the minister of City Outreach and Engagement at First Presbyterian Church Colorado Springs. And he served as Small Business Development Administrator for the City of Colorado Springs.
There’s a theme developing here.
Yemi’s been on the Springs Rescue Mission Board of Directors, Pikes Peak Community College President’s Advisory Council, the Men’s Xchange Board of Directors, Thrive Colorado Springs Board of Directors, and is a Co-founder and Chairperson of COSILoveYou, a collaborative gospel movement that exists to unite and ignite Colorado Springs churches to show love to the city through engagement and service.
I was at that event last April 4th when Yemi announced his run for Mayor. As he stood up and shared his enthusiasm for the city I love and call home, I could sense his genuine desire to bring about change. I loved that he was not primarily a political figure but a local leader already connected within the community. He spoke of changes I had been searching for. I’m a small business owner. He said building and promoting small businesses, which are at the core of our community, was paramount. I’ve felt the pressure of finding affordable housing this year for myself and others in my family. He mentioned he wants to create more sustainable & affordable housing for families within our community.
He spoke of many other issues, and his solutions resonated with me in each case. Bringing needs within the community to the forefront. Encouraging unity by creating partnerships. Bringing together different types of people equipped to help solve current problems. I left feeling inspired.
Yemi came across my path again six months later when the Editor of Colorado Springs Magazine approached me. She mentioned that the magazine would be interviewing Yemi Mobolade and asked if I would be interested in writing an article about him. Of course, I said yes, and began to prepare for our upcoming interview.
I met with him at Rico’s, a local coffee shop. The first thing I noticed about him was his warm handshake and charismatic smile, which lit up his entire face. We talked a little about business, the community, and our love for Colorado Springs.
“So, what motivated you to run for mayor?” I asked.
“The right leadership matters to the people in our city,” he replied. “We must become the change we want to see in the world. So, kicking and screaming, I raised my hand and said yes. Here I am. Send me. I want to give back to the great country and to the city that has made me. And I believe I have the right set of experiences and relationships to move our city forward.”
I asked him how he planned to do this, and he shared a story with me. About six or seven years ago, his church gave him a job description of “urban engagement contact.” His job was to find out the city’s needs and bring them to the community. He would then create a volunteer organization, uniting skilled people with specific needs within the community. It started as a “city serve day” with only three to four churches. Since then it has grown to become the largest volunteer organization in Colorado Springs as COS I Love You.
“This is exactly what the city needs in order to become the best it can be,” he said. “Stop looking at ‘who’s going to do that’ and ask yourself, ‘how am I going to do that?’”
The outgoing Mayor, John Suthers, who improved Colorado Springs in several important ways, said in his most recent State of the City address that it was time to focus on infrastructure, economic growth, and community collaboration issues. This focus is a baton Yemi is prepared to take and run with. We discussed sustainable housing solutions and ways to call the faith-based sector, the nonprofit sector, and the business sector to unite.
“If you love something,” Yemi said, “a house, for example, you buy it because you love it. Then you begin to fix it up because you know it has potential, and you want to make it better. This is exactly what I want to do for my city, my home, the city of Colorado Springs.”
He also shared that choosing to run for the public office of Mayor has not been without its challenges.
“What is your biggest challenge so far?” I asked.
“My biggest challenge,” he answered, “is that my opponents will say I am young, inexperienced, and a rookie. In response, I will say I am younger, with a young family of my own, but I am not young. I represent the families of our community, of this city. And I am not a rookie in being a voice for all of Colorado Springs. I am nobody’s Mayor but the families of our city. I am not a rookie in city leadership. In regards to politics, however, I always want to be a rookie, not a politician.”
When it comes to city-building, Yemi is a seasoned expert. And in life, he’s a high-achiever, recognized with a number of prestigious awards, including the 2019 Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation’s Quality of Life Award, the 2018 Colorado Springs Small Business Champion of the Year, the 2016 Colorado Springs Business Journal’s Rising Stars, and 2015 Colorado Springs Mayor’s Young Leader Award for Economic Impact.
But Yemi’s proudest achievement is his family–his lovely wife, Abbey, a nurse educator, his adopted son, and two biological children.
Yemi smiles and laughs easily. But as we discuss the future, his face grows serious. Times are hard, and there are complex problems to solve. He believes the way forward will be built on the collaborative efforts of businesses, government, and everyday people.
“I know I’m not the political candidate you envision,” he says. “I don’t have decades of political experience. I have never run for or held public office. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. My affiliation is to the city of Colorado Springs.”