2023 Bloomington city council elections: Guenther won’t pursue at-large seat

In a news release issued on Monday, Andrew Guenther announced his intent to end his exploratory committee, which he formed in mid-June to make a bid for Bloomington city council in 2023.

Photo included with Guenther’s June news release.

Guenther is quoted in the release saying, “After careful consideration of my current schedule, obligations, and personal health, I cannot in good conscience continue my campaign for Bloomington city council.”

Guenther’s statement continues, “The people of Bloomington deserve better than a part-time councilmember who cannot dedicate themselves fully to serving the public interest.”

Guenther is now a graduate student at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and in the O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs.

He is former chair of Bloomington’s environmental commission. Guenther has also served on Monroe County’s environmental commission and Bloomington’s board of housing quality appeals.

In 2019 Guenther ran for the District 2 city council seat as a Republican, but lost in the general election to Democrat Sue Sgambelluri.

Compared to 2019, two things would have been different about Guenther’s run next year. First, Guenther was considering a run as an independent candidate, unaffiliated with any political party. Guenther announced on Jan. 2, 2021 that he was no longer a member of the Republican Party.

A second difference would have been that Guenther was exploring a run as a candidate for an at-large seat on the council.  A month ago, in early October, the city council adopted new district boundaries for the six seats on the council that represent specific areas of the city.

But the three at-large seats are elected citywide, which means candidate eligibility is based just on city residency.

The incumbent at-large councilmembers are: Susan Sandberg, Jim Sims, and Matt Flaherty. Sandberg has announced a bid for mayor, which means the 2024 edition of the city council will see at least one different at-large representative.

Guenther’s party affiliation has been in the news from time to time in the last several months, because he filed a lawsuit two years ago over an appointment to the Bloomington plan commission—based on the commission’s partisan balancing requirement.

In mid-October, the Indiana Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal in the case. The lower court found in Guenther’s favor, but that ruling was overturned by the court of appeals.

The key point of law in the case was whether state law requires an appointee to a partisan-balanced commission, like a plan commission, to have an affiliation with some party or other. Guenther sought to be appointed as a Republican to Bloomington’s plan commission—he was at the time a Republican.

The vacant plan commission seat to which Guenther sought appointment was held by Nick Kappas who had no party affiliation. Guenther and then-GOP county chair William Ellis took the position that because Kappas had no party affiliation, and because a party affiliation was required, it was the party affiliation of Kappas’s predecessor, a Republican, that gave Ellis the right to appoint Guenther to the seat.

The court of appeals found that Kappas’s appointment had been consistent with state law and that he did not have to have some affiliation or other—which meant that there was no reason to look to Kappas’s predecessor’s party affiliation.

Guenther’s statement issued on Monday wraps up: “I will continue to serve our community through boards and commissions, advocacy, and participation in public input events. In other words, I will not disappear from Bloomington’s political scene—I just will not be a candidate for office in 2023.”

One thought on “2023 Bloomington city council elections: Guenther won’t pursue at-large seat

  1. that is too bad. I think Andrew would have made a good candidate. I am not saying I would have definitely listened to what he had to say. Seems like a smart young man.

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