Bloomington mayoral campaign committee formed by Kerry Thomson

Just before noon on Wednesday, Bloomington resident Kerry Thomson filed paperwork with Monroe County’s election division to establish a principal committee for a 2023 mayoral campaign.

Kerry Thomson. Photo from a May 15, 2022 event hosted at the Switchyard Park pavilion by Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement called “Community Conversations on Housing.”

That makes two Democrats in as many weeks to file some kind of paperwork for a Bloomington mayoral run. On June 1, city council president Susan Sandberg filed paperwork to create an exploratory committee.

The basic impact of the different committee types is that when Sandberg formally declares her candidacy—which is not possible until the first week of January 2023—she will need to file an amendment to convert her exploratory committee to a principle committee.

Incumbent mayor Democrat John Hamilton has not formally announced that he is running for re-election to a third four-year term.

Since late 2018, Thomson has served as executive director of Indiana University’s Center for Rural Engagement (IUCRE). The center’s website describes the IU initiative as tapping the research, expertise, teaching, and service of IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to create connections between non-land-grant, research institutions and rural communities.

From 1997 to 2017, Thomson served as CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County. Before that she worked for Habitat in different capacities in Lynchburg, Virginian and Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Her background includes service on the boards of Indiana Habitat for Humanity, Habitat for Humanity International’s US Council, and Tithe Advisory Board, and Indiana University Credit Union.

Thomson has a bachelor of arts degree in sociology, anthropology, and women’s studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. In 2010, Thomson was named Woman of the Year by Bloomington’s commission on the status of women.

In mid-May, Thomson emceed an IUCRE-hosted event held at Bloomington’s Switchyard Park pavilion, which was called “Community Conversations on Housing.” The event featured presentations on topics like zoning, multifamily housing, and Bloomington’s overall housing market, followed by breakout sessions for attendees.

Last spring, Thomson spoke up during public hearings by the plan commission and city council on controversial changes to the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO). The main source of contention was the proposal by Hamilton’s administration to allow for duplex housing in areas of the city that had previously allowed only single-family houses.

During the UDO amendment process, Thomson helped lead an initiative that called itself “Go Farther Together,” which advocated for pausing the process, to consider community feedback first, before pursuing another round of UDO changes. A year before, in late 2019, Bloomington residents had been sharply divided on basically the same issue—zoning for duplex housing.

Here’s an excerpt from one of Thomson’s public speaking turns, on March 25, 2021, at the hearing front of Bloomington’s plan commission:

The Bloomington I know and love creates solutions which are strategic and designed to solve complex issues with multifaceted solutions. I’m here tonight because I’m concerned about how duplexes are being applied to residential housing districts. I believe there are solutions we’ve left unexamined due to a process that has been responsive, but not collaborative.