Spirits were high Tuesday night at Monroe County Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Street. Both Democrats in the only contested races for Bloomington’s municipal elections hand just won seats on the city council in 2020. Ron Smith won a three-way race in District 3.
Sue Sgambelluri won her race in District 2 against Republican Party nominee Andrew Guenther. She received 365 votes (63 percent) to Guenther’s 218 (37 percent). That included a plurality for Sgambelluri in each of the district’s six precincts, among early voters and Election Day voters alike.
The closest tally inside the district was the one-vote margin in Bloomington 14 precinct among Election Day voters—Guenther had 19 votes compared to Sgambelluri’s 20.
After thanking several people who helped with her District 2 city council campaign, Sgambelluri asked, “What did we learn? We learned that not even $40,000 can buy …” The rest of her remark was drowned out by applause and cheers from Democrats who were in a mood to celebrate. The dollar amount was an allusion to the amount of money contributed to Guenther’s campaign, mostly by the local Republican Party.
Sgambelluri summed up the point by saying, “We learned that it takes ideas and not just money.” The Beacon was not able to reach Guenther on election night.
Sgambelluri and Guenther both did turns at the polls greeting voters on Election Day. They worked with volunteers at Genesis Church for part of the morning.
Guenther did not have an opponent in the Republican primary for District 2. He was the sole Republican in any city race this year. Guenther is a 2018 IU grad, who currently chairs the city’s environmental commission. He previously served on the city’s board of housing quality appeals and on Monroe County’s environmental commission.
Guenther campaigned on a platform of community health and safety, public maintenance and accessibility, sustainable economic growth, and affordable high-quality housing.
As the farmers market controversy grew over the summer, Guenther said early on that the market should be privatized, so that vendors with ties to white-supremacist beliefs could be excluded from the market. Guenther accused Sgambelluri during a candidate forum of “political cowardice” on the issue. On that occasion, Sgambelluri responded by telling him she disagreed. “It is very, very easy to step up to microphones and make pronouncements,” Sgambelluri said, adding, “It is much harder to do the day-to-day work.”
Guenther’s campaign drew city-wide attention after he filed his pre-election campaign finance forms, and they showed he’d received $30,500 in contributions from the Republican Party and a total of $37,375 in itemized contributions overall. Conventional wisdom in Bloomington appears to be that around $5,000 is about what’s needed to run a primary and a general campaign. Sgambelluri raised around $5,500 in itemized contributions.
Guenther spent money on phone/text systems ($5,743), campaign videos ($5,054), a campaign manager ($4,000) and digital marketing ($1,950) among other items.
Sgambelluri won the Democratic party primary in a three-way race that included incumbent Dorothy Granger. Sgambelluri currently serves on the city’s redevelopment commission. She’s director of development at the Indiana University College of Arts & Sciences, a position she’s held since 2003. From 1992 to 2003 she was associate director at the IU Career Development Center.
Sgambelluri campaigned on a platform of encouraging economic growth and vitality, supporting vulnerable neighbors, strengthening neighborhoods, promoting responsive, collaborative government.
The 2020 Bloomington City Council will include the following nine members: