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Bloomington City Council incumbent faces challenger in next year’s election

From Patrick Lawler's Facebook page.

BLOOMINGTON (HOI) - A Normal Community High School teacher announced Monday he's a candidate for the Bloomington City Council in a ward where the incumbent is rethinking her plans not to run for reelection.

Patrick Lawler, 35, teaches U.S. History and Psychology at NCHS, where he's worked for 14 years. Lawler is making his first run for elected office saying incumbent Joni Painter's statements criticizing the local chapter of Black Lives Matter indicates a leadership change is needed in Ward 5.

"Our local BLM's approach is to turn everything into a fight," said Painter, who's been on the council for six years.

"They divide us when we desperately need to come together," said Painter who claims she favors reforms following the murder of George Floyd, the African-American who died while in Minneapolis Police custody.

Lawler said he takes a different approach, as he seeks to represent a ward covering north-central Bloomington near Veterans Parkway.

"I look forward to working with local organizations like Black Lives Matter to make their demands a reality, and I look forward to seeking ways to reinforce social service providers like the YWCA and Planned Parenthood, both of which are located in Ward 5," Lawler said in a prepared statement.

Lawler also said he's against providing tax incentives to businesses "that stripe schools of much-needed funding."

"I'm convinced that Bloomington-Normal is the best place in Illinois in which to raise a family." said Lawler.

"I've also been listening to the voices of my students and the community members who are speaking out and demanding change," he added.  

Painter said she planned on not running again, "but council dynamics have gotten so interesting, now I'm reconsidering."

"I appreciate the service she's had to our community," said Lawler.

"I know she's involved in some local groups and she's done some things, but it's time for a change. I think as a teacher I have a different insight into those situations and into those issues," Lawler also said.

The municipal election is April 6, 2021. Voters will choose council members in five city wards. They'll also vote for mayor.

Howard Packowitz

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