First Black woman chosen by Monroe County Dems for council: “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Jennifer Crossley was chosen at Sunday afternoon’s Democratic Party caucus to fill the vacant seat on the seven-member Monroe County council.

That means she’ll be stepping down as chair of the Monroe County Dems. Instead of Crossley, presiding over the caucus proceedings on Sunday was party vice chair David Henry.

The caucus was held in the auditorium of the Monroe County Public Library.

In her remarks delivered before the vote, Crossley said, “I’m running to fill this seat because I truly feel and believe that representation matters. And it is important to me that individuals from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and socio-economic statuses are in elected positions and get a seat at the table.”

Crossley added, “And as a Black woman, I feel that I bring this to this table. This is a historic moment in our county and our party, because if voted in this caucus today, I would be the first Black woman to serve on the county council.”

Crossley wrapped up her point by saying, “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Just before he adjourned the caucus, Henry underscored the historic nature of Crossley’s selection. “I think back to January 20 of this year, when our nation swore in our first woman of color as vice president. Yes, that’s a national and international headline.”

Henry continued, “But we make headlines locally, too. And this is a proud moment for our community. Remember where you were today.”

Crossley had mentioned vice president Kamala Harris in her own remarks, when she was ticking through some of her credentials. Crossley said, “I’m a current member of the Monroe County Black Democratic Caucus, the Monroe County NAACP, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, Monroe County NOW. And I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.—the same sorority as Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.”

The District 4 seat on the council had been vacant since Eric Spoonmore’s resignation, which was effective starting Dec. 1. That was his first day as CEO and executive director of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

The choice of Crossley was not a surprise. She had been the only candidate who made the necessary filing, vice chair Henry said on Sunday.

Two other candidates who had initially considered a caucus run for the District 4 seat dropped out when Crossley announced her own bid.

On Sunday, Crossley left no doubt about her intention to continue in the seat by standing as a candidate for county council District 4 in 2022. Crossley said, “I understand that this term would go through the end of next year. And yes, the seat is up for reelection.”

Crossley continued, “I will work hard to earn the votes of those that live in county council [District] 4 through the primary and through the general election.”

The vote on the appointment to the county council seat was taken only after a procedural motion passed—to suspend the rules and to take a voice vote instead of marking ballots. That procedural motion was approved after no one responded with a nay to Henry’s call.

The voice vote on Crossley’s appointment was approved the same way. When no one said nay, Henry declared “The ayes have it,” which prompted standing applause for more than a half minute.

Crossley’s swearing-in took place immediately after the caucus concluded. The oath of office was administered by Bloomington city clerk, Nicole Bolden.

Bolden had another connection to Sunday’s proceedings. She is precinct chair for Bloomington 23, which is one of 20 precincts making up county council District 4. That meant she was one of the 20 people eligible to cast a vote on Sunday.

Bolden was among several elected and appointed officials who attended the Sunday gathering, either because they could cast a vote, or out of other interest.

County commissioner Penny Githens attended Sunday’s caucus, but did not have a formal role.

Githens and the other two commissioners will be the subject of possibly one of the first votes Crossley will be able to take as a county councilor. At a Tuesday work session, the council will consider an amendment to the 2022 salary ordinance that would increase compensation for county commissioners. The sole Republican on the county council, Mary Hawk, has indicated she won’t be attending next Tuesday’s work session.

The other Democrats who serve on the county council that Crossley will be joining were all in attendance at Sunday’s caucus: Peter Iversen, Kate Wiltz, Trent Deckard, Cheryl Munson, and Geoff McKim.

McKim is precinct chair for Bloomington 15 in District 4, which meant he also got to vote on Sunday.

Trent Deckard is married to Kyla Cox Deckard, who is the precinct chair for Perry 29—which meant she could vote on Sunday. Kyla Cox Deckard could also be familiar to some readers in connection with her service on Bloomington’s board of public works.

Also voting on Sunday, because she’s precinct chair for Bloomington 13, was Jillian Kinzie. She is a Bloomington plan commissioner.

County prosecuting attorney Erika Oliphant participated in Sunday’s vote, because she’s precinct chair for Perry 02.

County board of health member Ashley Cranor voted in Sunday’s caucus, because she is precinct chair for Perry 01. Cranor will be a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for county recorder in 2022.

An assistant city attorney for Bloomington, Barbara McKinney, voted in Sunday’s caucus, because she is precinct chair for Bloomington 20.

Bloomington’s deputy mayor, Don Griffin, participated in Sunday’s vote because he’s precinct chair for Bloomington 24. Mayor John Hamilton attended, but could not vote, because the precinct for which he is chair is not in county council District 4.

Bloomington councilmember Sue Sgambelluri took part in Sunday’s vote, because she’s precinct chair for Bloomington 17. President of Bloomington’s city council, Jim Sims, attended Sunday’s caucus, but was not eligible to vote.

Former MCCSC school board member Sue Wanzer and former election board member Carolyn VandeWiele both voted in Sunday’s caucus, because they are precinct chairs for Perry 04 and Perry 27, respectively.

Also in attendance on Sunday was a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for county sheriff, Ruben Marté.

Monroe County Democratic Party caucus (Dec. 19, 2021)

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2 thoughts on “First Black woman chosen by Monroe County Dems for council: “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

  1. This is good news. Your work is very welcome in a town with a reduced newspaper coverage. It would be interesting to give the educational and vocational background of these personalities. I assume Ms. Crossley is married, and these are her children. We Democrats are proud of her, and we would like to know what kinds of policies or projects will she support. Wasn’t she chair of the Democratic Party before?

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