Bloomington plan commission vacancy: GOP county chair says he has authority to fill it, picks Guenther

One of the nine seats on the Bloomington plan commission has been vacant since around Jan. 6, when the four-year term for Nick Kappas expired, and the city’s mayor, Democrat John Hamilton, decided not to reappoint him.

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Andrew Guenther at a 2019 city council campaign event. (Square Beacon file photo)

The spot held by Kappas is one of the five seats on the nine-member plan commission that are expected to be appointed by the mayor.

In a departure from that expectation, a press release issued Thursday afternoon, by Monroe County Republican Party chair, William Ellis, says the GOP leader has made the plan commission appointment to fill the vacancy.

The GOP chair’s pick, according to the release, is Andrew Guenther, who’s current chair of the city’s environmental commission. Last year Guenther was a Republican candidate for the District 2 city council, a race that was won decisively by Democrat Sue Sgambelluri.

Why does Ellis think he has the authority to make what is ordinarily a mayoral appointment? Continue reading “Bloomington plan commission vacancy: GOP county chair says he has authority to fill it, picks Guenther”

2020 Local Primaries: Democrats now have confirmed contested races for state senator, judge, county councilors

This past week’s candidate filings for offices of local interest brought the total of confirmed contested races in the Democratic Party’s primary elections to three.

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Declaring her candidacy on Friday for the state senate’s District 40 seat was former Monroe County councilor Shelli Yoder. She joins the Democratic Party’s state chair, John Zody, in a bid for the party’s nomination to succeed incumbent Democrat Mark Stoops. Last year, Stoops announced he would not be seeking re-election.

On Wednesday, Kara Elaine Krothe, an attorney in the county’s public defender’s office, declared her candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination to the Division 8 judge’s seat in Monroe County’s circuit court. Also running for that nomination is deputy county prosecutor Jeff Kehr, who declared his candidacy on Jan. 8, the first day candidates could file. Continue reading “2020 Local Primaries: Democrats now have confirmed contested races for state senator, judge, county councilors”

Ruff runs for 9th District Congressional seat, wraps up 20 years on Bloomington city council

In a press release sent Monday morning, Bloomington city councilmember Andy Ruff, a Democrat, announced he’s running for the 9th District U.S. Representative seat currently held by Republican Trey Hollingsworth. Continue reading “Ruff runs for 9th District Congressional seat, wraps up 20 years on Bloomington city council”

Monroe County Green Party leaders: “We’re not asking you to join the party, we’re asking you to help organize it.”

On Wednesday night at the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL), around a dozen and a half people attended the first public meeting of the county’s local Green Party caucus.

Among the reasons that organizer Randy Paul and others gave for wanting to establish the Green Party in Bloomington and the rest of  Monroe County is a desire to provide some competition to the Democratic Party. Democrats hold all 11 city offices in Bloomington. Continue reading “Monroe County Green Party leaders: “We’re not asking you to join the party, we’re asking you to help organize it.””

Democratic Party mulls how to say: Bloomington’s District 3 city council race features exactly one Democrat

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Monroe County Democrats caucused Monday, Aug. 26 to talk about Marty Spechler’s independent candidacy for Bloomington’s District 3 city council seat, at the same time he is sitting as an elected Democrat on the Bloomington Township board. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Three candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for the seat representing Bloomington’s District 3 on the nine-member city council. One is the Democratic Party nominee, Ron Smith. The other two are independent candidates—Marty Spechler and Nick Kappas.

If Spechler or Kappas is elected, it would make District 3 special, because either candidate would be the first ever independent to win election to the Bloomington city council.

But that potential historical distinction is not what Sue Sgambelluri meant, when she spoke up at the Monroe Democratic Party headquarters during a caucus held Monday night: “First, I want to congratulate District 3 on having replaced District 2 as the most interesting race this year. Well done!”

Sgambelluri is the Democratic Party’s nominee in District 2, facing Republican Andrew Guenther.

Sgambelluri’s line got its intended laugh among the three dozen or so precinct representatives. They had gathered to discuss Spechler’s candidacy for the city council as an independent, while sitting in a different elected office as a Democrat.

Spechler was elected to the Bloomington Township board in 2018 as Democrat, a position he currently holds. (Townships overlap with the city.) That situation led to the convening of the Monday night caucus.

A single question was printed on the written agenda Monday night:

Should a sitting Democrat be allowed, without denouncement by the county party, to run as an independent against another Democrat in a general election?

No vote was taken at the caucus—the occasion was intended only for discussion. A consensus emerged that the party should make clear to the public who its nominee is: Ron Smith.

Continue reading “Democratic Party mulls how to say: Bloomington’s District 3 city council race features exactly one Democrat”

Filing deadline passes with no independent candidates for Bloomington mayor on the ballot

At Monroe County’s election headquarters at the intersection of 7th and Madison streets, election supervisor Karen Wheeler spoke with The Beacon around quarter to noon on Monday. Up to then, she said, no independent candidates for Bloomington mayor had turned in the minimum 522 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

A short while later, after confirming the clock read 12:01, Wheeler declared the deadline expired. cropped election registration sign 20190701_115854

Write-in candidates have until noon Wednesday, July 3, to file their paperwork.

The Republican Party is not fielding a candidate for mayor.

That means if no candidate registers as a write-in for the mayor’s race, incumbent John Hamilton is certain to serve as mayor for another four years, starting in 2020, even though no vote for that office will be held.

If no candidate registers as a write-in for any of the other citywide posts, that will mean no elections on Nov. 5 for most of the city of Bloomington, according to Wheeler. Continue reading “Filing deadline passes with no independent candidates for Bloomington mayor on the ballot”

Could the blue bubble of Bloomington have a reddish tinge in City Council District 2?

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.

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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.

By way of example, in the 2018 Braun-versus-Donnelly U.S. Senate race, the Republican candidate (Mike Braun) carried most of the counties in the state. Monroe County, which is home to Bloomington’s Indiana University campus, went decisively Donnelly’s way, so it’s a dark shade of blue. Continue reading “Could the blue bubble of Bloomington have a reddish tinge in City Council District 2?”