Pitch for Bloomington city council standing committees seen by executive branch as a fastball

“Is council a co-equal branch of government or isn’t it?” That’s a rhetorical question posed by Steve Volan, this year’s president of Bloomington’s city council, about the relationship between the council and the city’s administration.

Volan asked the question during a contentious work session held last Friday afternoon in city hall’s Hooker Conference Room. All nine councilmembers attended at least part of the session, along with a dozen and half staff members, among them several department heads and deputy mayor Mick Renneisen.

The friction that emerged between Volan and staff members, and with some of Volan’s city council colleagues, stemmed from a pending resolution, introduced by Volan at the city council’s first meeting of the year, on Jan. 8.

Volan proposes to use existing city code to establish seven four-member standing committees. Already established is a land use committee, to which zoning legislation has been referred for the last two years. Continue reading “Pitch for Bloomington city council standing committees seen by executive branch as a fastball”

Local Greens take next step towards establishing new incarnation of political party

In the early 2000s, Bloomington’s local newspaper, the Herald-Times, was sprinkled with mentions of the Monroe County Green Party—about 50 references from 2000 to 2006. Only a couple mentions are recorded after that—and those are historical references.

In that era, local Green Party candidates included 8th District congressional seat write-in candidate Marc Haggerty in 2000, Jeff Melton as a candidate for the same congressional seat in 2002, and county council candidate Julie Roberts, also in 2002.

That’s based on records from the Monroe County Public Library’s portal to the online NewsBank archives of the Herald-Times.

At the library’s bricks-and-mortar building on Kirkwood Avenue, local Greens followed their first organizational meeting in late October with a second one on Tuesday. Leader of the current effort to achieve recognition as a local party organization, Randy Paul, says he wants the local Green Party to have an influence longer into the future.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the roughly 10 people present elected five interim officers, including Paul as one of the two co-chairs. The other co-chair is Nile Arena.

Rounding out the officer positions are Brandon Drake (vice chair), Amanda Sheridan (communications chair) and Gregory George (treasurer). Continue reading “Local Greens take next step towards establishing new incarnation of political party”

Inside baseball: Guenther swings away with farmers market “winning issue” accusation in District 2 city council race

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From left: District 2 candidates Andrew Guenther and Sue Sgambelluri; moderators Meredith Karbowsky and Taylor Combs; District 3 candidates Marty Spechler, Ron Smith, and Nick Kappas. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

It was a rest day for the baseball World Series between the Astros and the Nationals. But about 20 people attended a city council candidate forum Monday evening, hosted by The Civil Society at Indiana University. Moderators were students Meredith Karbowsky and Taylor Combs.

Only the council hopefuls in District 2 and District 3 were in the lineup—five candidates in all—because the races in the other four Bloomington districts are uncontested.

Held in the basement of Woodburn Hall on the IU campus, the event was unmarked by any real friction through about the first hour.  Candidates did not offer radically different views on public safety, housing, or climate change, even if their talking points differed.  It resembled a mostly friendly game of political pitch and catch, not hardball electioneering.

But a question about the situation that emerged this summer at Bloomington’s farmers market, which was pitched by moderators straight down the middle for each candidate, was blasted by Republican Andrew Guenther right at Democrat Sue Sgambelluri. The two are competing for the District 2 council seat.

On Monday night, Guenther accused Sgambelluri of “political cowardice,” based in part on what some of his supporters told him her campaign treasurer has said. Sgambelluri reached for Guenther’s line drive with a “results-oriented” glove.

On Nov. 5  it’s voters who will make the call, safe or out, in an election that still has a few innings to go. Here’s how the play unfolded. Continue reading “Inside baseball: Guenther swings away with farmers market “winning issue” accusation in District 2 city council race”

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.””

Contested Bloomington elections set for fall: None citywide, two of six council districts

Voters in city council Districts 2 and 3 are the only Bloomington residents who will have a choice at the November polls this year.

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Shown are the two districts where Bloomington city elections will be held on Nov. 5 this year, with the names of candidates who will appear on the ballot. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

In Monroe County’s election headquarters, at the intersection of 7th and Madison streets, the deadline for write-in candidates expired Wednesday at noon. By then, no write-in candidates had registered for Bloomington’s fall elections.

It was the final deadline for adding official candidates to the mix. The deadline for independent candidates to submit petitions had already passed on Monday.

Barring any withdrawals, that sets up contested races in two of the six council districts and none for the five citywide positions—mayor, clerk and councilmember at large. No election is held for races that aren’t contested.

That means voters in most of Bloomington, all except for the northern third of the city, won’t have a chance to go to the polls on Nov. 5. Continue reading “Contested Bloomington elections set for fall: None citywide, two of six council districts”

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?”

May 7 Bloomington Primary Election: A Nonpartisan Resource

Twenty-three candidates for 11 city offices are on the ballot for Bloomington voters in the May 7, 2019 primary election – all but one of them Democrats. And this year, all but two of the Democratic Party primary races are competitive.

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Candidates in the May 7 Bloomington primary.

To help voters research their choices for Bloomington mayor, clerk and council, we’ve compiled a nonpartisan resource guide that profiles each candidate in the May 7 primary.

Here’s a link to the guide: Bloomington City Primary Elections 2019

In addition to biographical background, the profiles include links to each candidate’s online campaign information (website, social media, email) as well as links to campaign finance documents filed with the Monroe County clerk’s office.

Each profile also provides links to relevant news articles from a variety of sources, a listing that will be updated throughout the election cycle.

To register to vote, check your registration status or find your polling location, go to the Indiana Voter Portal. The deadline to register to vote in the May 7 primary is Monday, April 8.

Early voting starts on Tuesday, April 9.