Early Saturday (April 15), Black Lives Matter B-town released its assessment of Democratic Party city primary candidates who responded to a survey that included 10 questions for all candidates and two questions just for mayoral or city council candidates.
Sent the questionnaire were Democratic Party primary candidates for Bloomington mayor, city clerk and city council. The questionnaire was not sent to candidates affiliated with the Republican Party, because BLM B-town does not consider the party to be in alignment with its basic principles.
According to BLM B-town, their candidate assessments are provided to voters for informational purposes—they are not endorsements.
Candidates were given seven days to fill out the questionnaire, and were sent subsequent reminders after the survey was sent, according to BLM B-town
A total of 18 candidates wrote out answers to the questionnaire. It was designed to allow assessments of candidates in the categories of: Awareness, Position, Vision, Voices at the Table, Commitment & Effectiveness, Passion & Comportment.
Candidates are assessed on a scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.
Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire. About those candidates, BLM B-town wrote: “[C]andidates’ refusals to provide answers for this Voter’s Guide should remind us that the majority of the Bloomington political landscape is built to sustain anti-Black practices.”
BLM B-town gave candidates who did not respond to the BLM B-town questionnaire an assessment of “strongly disagree.”
The assessments were released as three separate .pdf files:
- 2023 Primary Assessments: Short form summary by BLM
- 2023 Primary Assessments: Long form summary by BLM
- 2023 Primary Verbatim questions and answers from candidates
The text of the questionnaire and direct links to the responses from individual candidates are included below.
Questions for all candidates
- How do you define Anti-Racism? Please try to use your own words and do not quote from a book or online resources. Additionally, how as an elected official would you apply anti-racism? Give specific examples in either your current policies as a seated official or in your candidate platform.
- How do you define privilege? How has privilege impacted decisions you have made as an elected official, or if you are running for the first time, as an engaged community member? If you are elected, how will you use your privilege to assist BIPOC communities?
- Given the history of the BLM Movement and the surge of support in 2020 after George Floyd was brutally murdered by police, the promised police and law enforcement reform that ultimately has not happened; in fact Bloomington has increased support for police financially. There has been a backlash against the BLM Movement we are currently seeing in media and politics. Are you as a candidate or a current elected official a supporter of the BLM Movement and its position on police and if so please articulate what that means in your own words? Give specific examples in your policy work or in your candidate platform.
- Given the American legacy of slavery, tyranny and discrimination against Black people Indigenous people and other people of color; do you believe that White Supremacy exists today in the U.S. within the populace, our systems of government, schools and education, etc…? If SO please give as many examples as you think are necessary to elucidate that belief and if NOT please tell us why. Name a specific issue in our community relating to White Supremacy and how you have or would respond to it.
- To the best of your knowledge, describe why people of color are disproportionately targeted and arrested by the criminal justice system. What ideas do you have to make the justice system more equitable and impartial? What concerns do you have about the militarization of our police force? Name a specific issue in our community relating to the militarization of the police and how you have or would respond to it?
- What does restorative justice look like to you? What programs focused on restorative justice do you support or would you support as an elected official? How, give as many details as you can?
- Describe a society in which there are no prisons. How does that justice system differ from ours? What other aspects of culture would be different in a society without Prisons?
- Given that the food insecurity rate for Monroe County is 14.4% which is 32.1% higher than the national average what plans or ideas do you have for food justice in our community? Do you support community based food programs that bring locally grown nutrient dense food to those in need? If so please detail those programs here. [Statistics from Feeding America Org 2019. These stats have only gotten worse during the global pandemic, though new numbers have not been compiled in this form yet.]
- In what ways does food justice fit within wider social issues, ie economic, environmental or racial justice? Do you support allowing white supremacists in our local food movements/farmer’s market? If so, why? If not, how do you propose to remove or ban them?
- Bloomington and Monroe County finds itself in an affordable housing crisis. How will you ensure more affordable housing? Do you support density housing with priority given to people of color, people making under $30,000 a year, families with dependents, and people with disabilities? What is your definition of “affordable” housing? Specifically, please discuss non-student housing.
Questions for mayoral candidates
- Given the recent anti-LGBTQ bills across the country and in Indiana & given that BIPOC LGBT folks will be doubly impacted, how will you as Mayor make sure LGBTQ Youth and in particular Trans and Non-Binary Youth have access to life saving gender care services in our community? How will you support our LGBTQ Elders? How will you address the intersectionality of Race and LGBTQ needs in our community? How will you help to bring more BIPOC physicians that specializes in the LGBTQ+ community to Bloomington?
- Bloomington’s housing crisis means we have an unhoused population in need of places to socially gather, live, and go to for safety in bad weather. The previous administration has removed them from public places like parks and the downtown area, causing trauma and further displacement for our unhouse community members. Given that this affects BIPOC folks disproportionately, what would you have done differently and who you would have consulted? Give as many details as you can. Tell us what type of Mayor you would be in a crisis especially related to issues of marginalized communities. How do you distinguish yourself from the previous administration?
Questions for city council candidates
- In recent years many community members including BLM BTOWN has interrupted city council meetings in order to bring to light various issues that the council has overlooked, as well as, not taken enough public comment, and neglected to implement community recommendations. The council often chooses to shut down public comment or limit it to two minutes or end council sessions entirely. Do you support this form of censoring the community? Or do you purpose a different strategy to hearing public comment and discourse? Please describe that strategy in detail giving examples from recent or notable comment sessions from the past. For reference here is a article from 2018: Black Lives Matter Bloomington Protesters Shut Down City Council
- Given that anti-racism, DEI and anti-bias trainings are needed for all levels of government, city employees and consultants; and given that the city of Bloomington has mostly had trainings from organizations not based in Bloomington. Do you believe that these trainings are effective to actually prevent racism, homophobia, transphobia and bias from happening in city government? If not, what do you propose to do to help get the city the training it needs? Do you support local community based training instead of hiring out of town trainers? If not, why?
Links to Verbatim Responses
Links are set up to target the page of a single .pdf file where a candidate’s response starts. In some cases that will mean a quick scroll to the bottom of the page is required.
City Council District 2
Sue Sgambelluri [did not return questionnaire]
City Council District 4
Dave Rollo [did not return questionnaire]
City Council District 6
David Wolfe Bender