Key topics for District 3 city council race forum: convention center, transportation

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From left, Bloomington  District 3 city council candidates: Ron Smith, Nick Kappas and Marty Spechler. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

At a forum held on Wednesday night for Bloomington city council candidates in District 3, an audience of around a dozen Bell Trace residents heard from the three candidates who are on this year’s ballot: Nick Kappas (independent), Ron Smith (Democrat), and Marty Spechler (independent).

Bell Trace is a senior living community on the city’s east side. Residents had questions about two specific topics: transportation and a planned convention center expansion downtown.

The timing for those topics squares up with a couple of public meetings planned before the end of the month, on Oct. 29. One is the kickoff to a series of meetings hosted by Bloomington Transit about a proposed new route configuration, which has been studied for more than a year.

Another meeting set for Oct. 29 is a joint meeting of the city council and the county council about the plans for the expanded convention center.

All three candidates expressed support for the convention center expansion. Mayor John Hamilton, who was having dinner at Bell Trace with his mother-in-law, dropped by the forum to express his support for fellow Democratic Party primary winner Ron Smith. Hamilton was also asked about the convention center. He said he was “a little worried” about it, but was confident that it would move forward. Continue reading “Key topics for District 3 city council race forum: convention center, transportation”

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”