The headline for this piece is unlikely to surprise anyone with just a scant knowledge of local Bloomington politics or national election trends.
Still, it’s worth adding some precision to some general ideas. Bloomington’s quadrennial municipal elections—held the year before presidential contests—attract few voters. And those who do vote are older than average.
Based on turnout in past years, I think maybe 1,500 voters will participate in Bloomington’s Nov. 5 elections. That’s about 3 percent of city voters in the registered voter file provided by the Monroe County election supervisor’s office in early July.
Based on participation in past elections, more than half of those 1,500 voters will be older than 60. That’s almost three decades older than the average registered voter in Bloomington.
It’s unfair, of course, to compare an estimated maximum of 1,500 voters this November to the number of registered voters in all of Bloomington. That’s because elections will be held in just two of six city council districts this year. The other four district seats on the city council are uncontested. Also uncontested are races for all city-wide offices—mayor, city clerk and member-at-large city council seats.
Adjusting for just the roughly 16,000 registered voters in District 2 and District 3 combined, an estimated maximum turnout of 1,500 works out to around 9 percent. That doesn’t add up to a point of civic pride.
For District 2, my working estimate for maximum turnout is about 500 voters. I think if one of the two candidates gets more than 250 votes, that will be enough to win the seat. For District 3, I don’t think the turnout will be more than about 1,000 voters. I think if any of the three candidates gets more than 375 votes, that will be enough to win.
For both districts, I think the average age of voters this November will be older than 60.
After announcing on Monday (July 29) that Bloomington’s farmers market would be suspended for the next two Saturdays, Mayor John Hamilton held a press conference on Wednesday morning to address the situation.
Monday’s press release gave the general background for the market closure: “Since the recent public discussion of ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalist causes and groups, the City has identified increasing threats to public safety.”
The press release also hinted at more concrete reasons: “…[I]nformation gathered identifying threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, present the potential for future clashes.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, when Hamilton and the city’s chief of police, Mike Diekhoff, responded to questions from the press on the topic of threats, they didn’t provide additional details on the exact nature of the threats.
Hamilton said, “The threats were enough to identify particular individuals that meant to us, we saw a threat of violence in the market. And given the realities that I talked about, we felt it was critical for public safety to hit pause.”
Hamilton led off the press conference with about 15 minutes worth of prepared remarks, then fielded questions, first mostly from the press, then from others.
South Bend mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg delivered a speech on foreign policy at Indiana University in Bloomington on Tuesday morning. I sat with the general public in the sixth row of the IU Auditorium.
In a ruling issued late Thursday afternoon, Judge Frank Nardi found that legislation enacted by the Indiana state legislature in 2017—a law that halted the city of Bloomington’s annexation efforts—is unconstitutional for two separate reasons.
The city brought suit against Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb two years ago over the issue. Nardi’s ruling agreed with Bloomington’s position on both substantive points. First, Nardi found that the legislation was impermissible special legislation under the state constitution, because there were no unique characteristics of Bloomington that justified singling out only Bloomington as the one city that needed to pause its annexation efforts for five years. Second, Nardi found that the legislation violated the single subject clause of the state constitution, because it was included in the biennial budget bill of 2017. Continue reading “Judge says legislation that halted Bloomington’s annexations in 2017 is unconstitutional for two reasons”→
At a Tuesday afternoon hearing lasting around an hour, the two sides in an ongoing annexation lawsuit between the City of Bloomington and Gov. Eric Holcomb presented oral arguments.
Judge Frank Nardi did not issue a ruling from the bench. The March 26 hearing was held at the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center in downtown Bloomington.
The City of Bloomington filed the lawsuit in 2017 over the state legislature’s decision to build into its budget bill a change to state annexation law. It was a change that effectively singled out Bloomington and paused any annexation plans by the city for five years.
Bloomington contends that because the new annexation law was incorporated into the 2017 biennial budget bill, it violates the State Constitution’s requirement that legislation be confined to a single subject.
Bloomington’s lawsuit also states that the new annexation law violates the State Constitution’s clause prohibiting “special” legislation. The constitutional claim involving special legislation hinges not merely on the fact that the new annexation law applies only to Bloomington. The claim arises from the city’s contention that the attempted justification for the law’s unique application is not adequate.
To some extent, the two sides spent their time on Tuesday rehashing arguments they’d already submitted to the court.
In mid-January, Judge Frank Nardi requested an extra courtroom at the Monroe County Circuit Court for a half-day hearing on the afternoon of March 26, for a case filed by the City of Bloomington against the governor of Indiana.
Even though Judge Nardi is not expected to issue a decision from the bench on Tuesday, the hearing is likely to lead eventually to the first ruling on the substance of the case. It was was filed almost two years ago and deals with Bloomington’s annexation efforts.
The lawsuit stems from a 2017 action by the state’s General Assembly to build into its budget bill a change to state annexation law that effectively singled out Bloomington and paused any annexation plans by the city for five years. The court documents in the case are accessible to the public through MyCase. (Search by case for 53C06-1705-PL-001138. Or download most of the court records in a single compressed file here: City of Bloomington vs. Holcomb.)
Bloomington filed a lawsuit, contending that the General Assembly violated two different parts of the state’s constitution: One limiting bills to single subjects and another prohibiting special legislation.
In 2017, the city of Bloomington filed a lawsuit against Gov. Eric Holcomb in connection with the city’s planned annexations.
The lawsuit was precipitated by the General Assembly’s action in 2017 to build into the budget bill a change to annexation law—which effectively singled out Bloomington of all Hoosier cities—that paused any annexation plans for five years. Bloomington contends the General Assembly violated two clauses of the state’s constitution: One limiting bills to single topics and another prohibiting special legislation.
After some technical skirmishing about whether Holcomb is an appropriate defendant (he is, according to the judge) and whether some video of the General Assembly can be admitted as evidence (it can’t be, according to the judge), the case has progressed to a significant hearing on Tuesday, March 26. Continue reading “Acute political angle on Bloomington annexation lawsuit”→
When maps of election results in recent Indiana statewide races are color-shaded—with reds or blues where Republicans or Democrats won more votes—the Hoosier state is a sea of red with some blue islands.
The few patches of blue for Indiana are consistent with a robust national pattern: Rural counties are stronger for Republicans; counties with higher urban populations, especially those with universities, are stronger for Democrats.