2020 Bloomington city council: Out with the old, in with the new

At the last city council meeting of the year, on Dec. 18, 2019, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, delivered proclamations to the four outgoing councilmembers.

On Jan. 1, 2020, four new councilmembers were sworn in to start four-year terms, along with the five returning councilmembers, the mayor, John Hamilton, and the city clerk, Nicole Bolden.

Starting around noon on New Year’s Day in the city council chambers, the oaths of office for Bloomington’s 11 elected officials were administered.

Judge Valeri Haughton administered the oath to John Hamilton, who’s starting his second term as mayor.

Haughton then swore in Nicole Bolden to start her second term as city clerk. As Haughton pointed out to those in the capacity crowd who did not know, Bolden is her daughter.

Bolden then administered the oath of office to some of the nine councilmembers. Haughton swore in the others.

The oath sworn by local officials is required under state statute to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, and that the officer or deputy will faithfully discharge the duties of such office.”

The signed paperwork for the oaths has to be filed with the circuit court clerk no later than February 1, 2020.

During the swearing in ceremony, it was the paperwork that provided some humor as the final councilmember, Steve Volan, was sworn in. Haughton pointed out a mistake, that committed Volan to faithfully discharging the duties of mayor, instead of councilmember.

The departure of Chris Sturbaum, Dorothy Granger, Allison Chopra and Andy Ruff from Bloomington’s city council at the end of last year meant the loss of 48 years of collective experience from the group of nine local legislators. Ruff had 20 years of experience, Sturbaum 16 years, Granger eight years, and Chopra four years of experience representing Bloomington citizens.

This year’s incoming city council has 56 years of collective experience. At the end of last year, the outgoing council had logged about twice as much collective time on the dais—104 years.

The council’s 56 years of experience at the start of the year is the lowest in the last decade or so. The most recent year with a less experienced city council was 2009, when the group of nine had 48 years of experience among them. In 2009, the composition of the council was: Chris Sturbaum (5 years), Brad Wisler (3 years), Mike Satterfield (1 year), Dave Rollo (6 year), Isabel Piedmont-Smith (1 year), Steve Volan (5 years), Susan Sandberg (2 years), Andy Ruff (9 years) and Timothy Mayer (16 years).

The longest serving member on the 2020 edition of the Bloomington city council is Dave Rollo, who has 17 years of council service behind him to start off this year. Rollo was appointed through a Democratic Party caucus in early 2003 to replace Jeff Willsey, who resigned as the District 4 representative.

First elected in fall of 2003 was District 6 representative Steve Volan, which gives him four complete terms, or 16 years of experience.

After Rollo and Volan comes at-large representative Susan Sandberg, with 13 years of experience. She was appointed through a Democratic Party caucus in late 2006 to replace Chris Gaal, who was elected prosecutor.

In District 5, Isabel Piedmont-Smith brings 8 years of experience, split over two separate terms. She served from 2008–2011. Her current period of service started in 2016 after election in 2015.

Jim Sims brings a couple of years of experience to his member-at-large seat. He was appointed via a Democratic Party caucus in 2017 to fill the spot left after Tim Mayer’s resignation. Sims was one of the top three vote getters in this year’s Democratic Party primary field of six candidates. The member-at-large city council seats were uncontested in the November municipal elections, as were all but the District 2 and District 3 seats.

The four councilmembers who were elected for the first time last November and who are just starting their council service are: Kate Rosenbarger (District 1), Sue Sgambelluri (District 2), Ron Smith (District 3), and Matt Flaherty (member at large).

Right hand  photos Jan. 1, 2020

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Candids from swearing-in ceremony

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Councilmember Steve Volan takes a photo of (from right) city clerk Nicole Bolden, Monroe Democratic Party chair Jennifer Crossley, and Indiana Democratic Party deputy chair Dan Black
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City clerk Nicole Bolden gives former mayor Tomi Allison a hug.
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Judge Valeri Haughton addresses the audience.
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Outgoing councilmember Andy Ruff, who served 20 years on the council, acknowledges the crowd from the balcony. To his left is his wife, Susan Bollman.
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Judge Valeri Haughton points out the mistake on councilmember Steve Volan’s paperwork that made him mayor.
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Councilmember Steve Volan reacts to the typo on his paperwork that made him the mayor.
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Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith gives a hug to Judge Valeri Haughton.
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City clerk gives a hug to Judge Valeri Haughton.
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New councilmember Ron Smith’s grandson, 17-month-old Otto Hamm signal applauds the proceedings.


Photos from Dec. 18, 2019, the last meeting of year for Bloomington’s city council

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